Royals

What Were Princess Diana's Military Connections?

Diana Frances Spencer, later Diana, Princess of Wales, had several honorary military titles during her life.

Following Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles on 29 July 1981, the Princess of Wales became a member of the royal family.

Her duties included several military connections and visits to personnel.

Here are some of her honorary Armed Forces titles.

The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

The regiment was named after Diana, who was also its first colonel-in-chief until her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark became the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment's (PWRR) sole colonel in 1997.

PWRR is also known as 'the Tigers'.

The regiment was formed in 1992 by merging The Queen's Regiment and The Royal Hampshire Regiment.

Diana had visited the 1st Battalion regularly, including during their residential tour of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in 1991.

Watch: Princess Diana and Prince Harry visited British personnel in Germany in July 1993.

The Light Dragoons

Diana was their Colonel-In-Chief.

In July 1993, Princess Diana famously visited the Light Dragoons in Germany, accompanied by Prince Harry.

During this trip, the young prince took a ride in a Scimitar armoured fighting vehicle.

Princess Diana also presented new colours to the Light Dragoons in Bergen Hohne, Germany, in 1995.

First Gulf War

The First Gulf War was fought 30 years ago, and saw the largest deployment of the British Armed Forces since the Second World War.

On 19 December 1990, Princess Diana visited the families of British personnel at Bergen-Hohne Garrison, near Hanover in northern Germany, as part of a morale-boosting tour.

When speaking to a group of Army spouses at the base, the Princess of Wales said: "You are not forgotten."

Diana made several such trips to British Army bases in Germany during the First Gulf War and many visits to other military bases around the world.

Princess Diana famously visited The Light Dragoons in Germany, alongside a young Prince Harry (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

RAF Wittering

Princess Diana was Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Wittering, which is located in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

RAF Wittering is a major base for flying training and the main operating base and headquarters for the RAF A4 Force – the vital engineering and logistic support for RAF operations around the world.

The Princess of Wales visited the base in 1991 with Prince Harry and again in 1995 when she watched a flying display by Harrier jets.

Royal Hussars

Diana was the Colonel-in-Chief of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.

Formed in 1922, the British Army unit was made up of two merged Hussar regiments.

The unit served with the Royal Armoured Corps until 1992, after which it became part of the Light Dragoons.

The unit fought throughout the Second World War and saw troops sent to Libya, Egypt, Malaya and Aden after the war.

Troops from the Royal Hussars also had personnel deployed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and served alongside the United Nations on their peacekeeping mission in Cyprus.

HMS Cornwall

The Princess was the sponsor for HMS Cornwall, a Type 22 frigate, and attended the launching of the ship on the on River Clyde in 1985.

Diana also paid visits to the ship in October 1989 and 1992.

HMS Cornwall was decommissioned in 2011 and made headlines in 2007 when, as part of a dispute over territorial waters, 15 of the ship's crew were captured by Iranian forces.

The personnel were held for a total of 13 days before they were released.

Princess Diana was also the Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Wittering and visited the base in 1991 with Prince Harry (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

Military links post-divorce

Following her divorce, the Princess resigned most of her charity and other patronages, and relinquished all her service appointments with military units. 

She continued to appear with the royal family on major national occasions, such as the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) and VJ (Victory over Japan) Days in 1995. 

Landmine clearance

Princess Diana campaigned against the use of landmines.

Her cause was highlighted on the international stage when in 1997, during a trip to Angola, Diana walked through a cleared path in an active minefield with mine-clearance experts.

She also met survivors of landmines while in the country, with her visit coming in the middle of a civil war.

In June that year, the Princess spoke at the landmines conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London, and this was followed by a visit to Washington DC in the United States to promote the American Red Cross landmines campaign.

Her death came just a few months before the United Nations Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits the use, production and trade of landmines.

In November 2020, the last anti-personnel mines were cleared from the Falkland Islands, meaning British soil around the world was completely free from landmines.

The Princess's last public engagements were during her visit to Bosnia in August when she visited landmine projects in Travnik, Sarajevo and Zenezica. 

During her trip to Angola, Princess Diana walked across a cleared path in an active minefield (Picture: PA).

Death

Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, aged 36.

Her funeral was held on 6 September 1997 at Westminster Abbey.

Her sons Prince William and Harry were aged 15 and 12 years old, respectively.

On what would be her 60th birthday, Prince William and Prince Harry attended an event to mark the unveiling of a statue they commissioned of their mother, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, on Thursday.