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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

See the One-of-Kind Princess Diana Portraits That Were Released after Her Death

Peter Max, one of the world's most famous living artists, devoted a series of paintings to honor the memory of the "People's Princess" Diana, Princess of Wales. Here he speaks to Reader's Digest about his artistic labor of love.

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Peter Max with his workCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

Icon meets icon

Contemporary artist Peter Max is a pop culture icon. Even if you’re not familiar with his name, chances are you would recognize his bold colors and uplifting images—he’s been the official artist for, among other things, six Grammys, five Super Bowls, the World Cup, and NBC’s The Voice. A longtime chronicler of pop culture, Peter felt connected to Princess Diana. “She was very special to me,” he tells Reader’s Digest. After her death in 1997, he honored the “People’s Princess” and her “warm, loving, compassionate” nature in the way he knew best: in portraits based on some of her most iconic images by royal photographer, Tim Graham.

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Princess Diana colorful portraitCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

When the world met “Shy Di”

Lady Diana Spencer, the quiet 19-year-old who’d caught the eye of the Prince of Wales, had only recently been introduced to the soon-to-be adoring public. But “Shy Di,” as she was known back then, was just one of Diana’s “many facets,” explains Max. “One portrait was not enough. It would take several more to capture her many wonderful qualities.” Don’t miss these secrets about Princess Diana we learned after her death.

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Princess Diana colorful portraitCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

The beautiful, regal royal

In this portrait, Peter captures Diana as the “beautiful, regal royal” she became—and remained even after her divorce from Prince Charles. Over the years, the iconic Lover’s Knot tiara came to be closely associated with Princess Diana. Queen Elizabeth II, who’d inherited it from her grandmother, had presented it to Diana on her wedding day in 1981. In 2015, Kate Middleton wore it for the very first time in public at a Buckingham Palace Reception, honoring the beloved mum of her husband, Prince William.

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Princess Diana colorful portrait

The beloved mum

In this endearing portrait, Princess Diana had only recently become a new mum to Prince William (born June 21, 1982), and her sweet, enigmatic smile is a reminder that even as she conducted her royal duties (Graham snapped the photo during 1983’s Royal Tour of Canada), her heart was always with her children. Max sees Princes William and Harry as testaments to Diana’s warm, maternal side, as they are continuing her good works and keeping her legacy of love and charity alive. You won’t want to miss these rarely seen photos of Princess Diana with Prince Harry.

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Princess Diana colorful portraitCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

The enduring fashion icon

Diana will always be remembered as a fashion icon, and this portrait of Diana attending the wedding of a friend in the mid-1980s captures her knack for putting a daring, bold spin on classic style. “Princess Diana was at once regal and relatable,” Max explains. “She was the epitome of kindness, humanitarianism, and charity, but she was also the epitome of grace.” Princess Diana’s impeccable fashion sense remains inspirational today. Here are 15 of her style tips you’ll want to steal for yourself.

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Princess Diana colorful portrait with Peter maxCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

Her spiritual side

Princess Diana paid a historic visit to the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple in London in June 1997. Known for her keen interest in a wide variety of cultures, towards the end of her life she had forged significant connections with the Islamic world that might have proved world-changing had she lived. Sadly, this visit took place just weeks before her tragic death. Nevertheless, Max reminds us, “her life will be remembered as one dedicated to hope through her humanitarian works, her compassion, and her strength.”

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Princess Diana colorful portraitsCourtesy © Peter Max 2018

A new generation

All of the paintings seen here have been sold at auction. Proceeds from the sales benefited the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (one of Diana’s favorite charities). As for what’s next, Max tells Reader’s Digest he would like to paint portraits of William and Harry and their families. “I see so many of Diana’s traits and expressions in her sons. They’ve grown up before our eyes and I’m sure would have made their mother so proud as they continue her charitable works and service.” Next, don’t miss these stunning, rarely seen photos of Princess Diana.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.