Princess Diana at 50: Imagining What Might Have Been

Posted July 1st, 2011 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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The late British Princess Diana would have turned 50 on Friday, a milestone that has generated a raft of speculation on what she might have looked like today and what her life would be like.

She was killed nearly 14 years ago in a Paris car crash but her life, loves, beauty and social activism still attract admirers and a fascinated public. Some marked the day by gathering outside London's Kensington Palace, where she once lived, and left cards, a cake, a collage and other mementos at the gates.

She was known as the “People's Princess,” but her death at 36 came at a time of personal turmoil. Divorced from Prince Charles, Princess Diana had just ended a romance with a heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan, and a new relationship with wealthy playboy Dodi Fayed was less than two months old. He was killed in the accident with her as paparazzi chased their car in a Paris highway tunnel.

A U.S. news magazine, Newsweek, provoked a storm among her admirers this week by photoshopping a much older-looking Diana strolling alongside Kate Middleton, the daughter-in-law she never met who recently married her older son, William. The magazine's editor, Tina Brown, a friend of Diana's who wrote a biography of her, speculated that the late princess might have married twice more, probably on both sides of the Atlantic.

Such guessing about Diana's life has also proved popular this week in the British press as well. One columnist speculated that Diana would have married into “old American money,” perhaps someone with a power-base in New York but also a horse-racing stable in the state of Kentucky.