Eighteen years after her tragic death, Britain's Princess Diana -- first wife of Prince Charles and mother of Prince William and Prince Harry -- remains a fondly remembered figure to millions across the world. Diana died Aug. 31, 1997, in a traffic accident in Paris while traveling with a companion. The princess was mourned by friends and fans alike, and her memory has been kept alive for nearly two decades.

Born Diana Spencer on July 1, 1961, Diana became royalty at age 14 after her father became Earl of Spencer in 1975. Diana grew up among Britain's aristocratic families and married Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, in an elaborate ceremony in 1981. 

Throughout her reign as princess, Diana became known for her philanthropy and dedication to charities, especially HIV and AIDS research.

Princess Diana Will Harry Princess Diana, with Prince Charles behind her, is seen with sons Prince William and Prince Harry (front) during a photo session in Spain, Aug. 9, 1987. Photo: Reuters Princess Diana in Wedding Dress Princess Diana is seen on her wedding day in 1981. She and Prince Charles divorced in 1996. Photo: Reuters

"I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts, in people's hearts, but I don't see myself being queen of this country," Diana once said, adding "I don't think many people will want me to be queen.” 

Despite her self-effacing declaration, Diana was known as "the people's princess," beloved by her subjects and by people worldwide. Even after Diana and Charles divorced in 1996, amid rumors of infidelities on both sides, Diana remained popular among her former subjects.

Princess Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, has often been compared to the late Diana for her down-to-earth quality and dedication to good works.

Princess Diana, Kate Moss and TIME’s 100 Fashion Icons Princess Diana was featured on a Time magazine list of 100 fashion icons. Photo: Reuters/Crispin Rodwell

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you," Diana famously said.

After she died, along with her companion, Egyptian film producer Dodi al Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, millions of mourners all over the world held vigils to remember the beloved princess.