Three Decades of Di

UPDATED 07/01/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/01/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

ITS A PITY ABC'S RECENTLY CANCELED thirtysomething couldn't have hung on a bit longer to make room for a new character: a working mom with a palatial home, a rocky marriage to a prince of a guy and maybe just a hint of sadness behind her smile. Call her Diana and, to boost ratings, make her a princess.

Yes, the onetime kindergarten teacher who became the world's favorite royal a decade ago turns 30 on July 1. So raise a champagne flute and cue the minstrels—because if you don't, who will? It appears that the milestone is being celebrated very quietly. Dickie Arbiter, press secretary to the Waleses, said he knew of no party planned for Diana and that, for her, the noteworthy Monday would be "a normal working day," including a lunch in London for a proposed children's hospice.

Speculation is that Prince Charles, 42, and Diana, who mark their 10th wedding anniversary on July 29, don't want a blowout that would call attention to their fractured fairy tale. "She may actually be slightly dreading the whole business," wrote a palace watcher in London's Sunday Express. "They have privately let it be known that neither the birthday nor the anniversary are to be considered 'anything special.' "

What a contrast to Charles's own 30th-birthday bash (pre-Di) in 1978, a ball for 350 guests at Buckingham Palace, replete with movie stars and ex-girlfriends. A friend of the couple's thinks Diana might, in fact, want such a fete. But, the friend says, no matter how spare the festivities, "you won't see her smile drop once."

Not to have a gala hardly seems fair. "Ten years on, it is hard to remember how the royal family ever managed without her," writes biographer Anthony Holden in his newly published A Princely Marriage. Indeed, this Saturday's child has worked hard for a living, meeting countless official appointments as if each were the first and raising Princes Wills, 9, and Harry, 6, often like a single parent. Before our eyes, she has grown from Shy Di to the jewel in the crown. Observes Holden: "The coy, slightly gawky teenager who sometimes had to be persuaded by Charles to face the cameras has grown into an elegant, self-assured woman."

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