What makes Diana No. 1 in the photo archives? It goes beyond her 15-year run in a highly visible job at a time when pictures are beamed around the globe for instant consumption. "It's not just her beauty, the royal aura or her endless travails, though none of that hurts," says Eric Levin, editor of this special issue, PEOPLE'S third on Diana. "It's also her genius for connecting with people—from perfect strangers to her own children—and projecting a wide range of emotions while occupying the brightest spotlight. And she needs the spotlight. She's like an actress who's incomparable at playing this multifaceted character called herself."
Quantity is one thing, quality another. Ensuring that this issue would be visually definitive, picture editor Maddy Miller and her deputy, Mindy Viola, sifted out the most compelling and famous Di images and many little-seen gems. Art director Hilli Pitzer gave the jewels their elegant setting. Writers Barbara Kantrowitz, Cynthia Sanz and Louise Lague found gold in a mountain of clips and reporting from our London bureau. Finally, chief of reporters Denise Lynch and reporter Averie LaRussa checked every fact to a fare-thee-well.
But we are pretty sure there will be no fare-thee-wells for Di anytime soon. The stunning knack for growth and personal reinvention she has shown seems unlikely to desert her.