The Late Princess Diana: 40 Things You Never Knew

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One of the most significant figures of the 20th century, Princess Diana was a trailblazer, reformer, and fashion icon. Even though she spent a large portion of her life in the public eye and under intense scrutiny, there are still many things about the adored late royal that you definitely don’t know. Here are 40 things to keep in mind about the People’s Princess, including her preferred clothes designer, pre-royal employment history, musical preferences, and parenting style.

Diana was the fourth of five kids.

Princess Diana had a younger brother, Charles Spencer, as well as two sisters, Sarah (now Lady Sarah McCorquodale) and Jane (now Lady Jane Fellowes) (now the Earl Spencer). A year and a half before Diana was born, her other brother John Spencer passed away just hours after his birth in January 1960.

At the age of 7, her parents separated.

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When Diana was just seven years old, her parents, Frances Shand Kydd and Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, divorced. Diana’s parents had a troubled relationship, and she listed physical abuse and infidelity as some of the factors contributing to their breakup.

Her grandmother served as the Queen Mother’s lady-in-waiting.

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Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, was the Queen Mother’s lady-in-waiting and Diana’s maternal grandmother. This meant that she served as both a personal assistant and a friend. She was tight with the Queen and planned a lot of her events.

She was raised on the Sandringham estate, which Queen Elizabeth leased.

Royal family members own Sandringham House, which is situated in Norfolk. Princess Diana’s mother Frances was born there in 1936, and Diana was born there in 1961. The Park House is located on the property. Sandringham House, which is on the estate, serves as the location for many royal family celebrations.

She was too tall to be a ballerina, despite her desire.

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Diana pursued a career in dancing after studying ballet, but she was unable to because of her height. Anne Allan, Diana’s ballet instructor, spoke candidly about her interactions with the princess in 2017 and said “she had dance in her soul. I realized the pure enjoyment that it gave her. She loved the freeness of being able to move and dance… I could see it helped to alleviate her emotional life.”

Following her father’s title inheritance, she was made Lady Diana.

After her father ascended to the earldom of Spencer in 1975, Diana became Lady Diana Spencer. Even when she married Prince Charles and received the title of Princess of Wales, she adopted the moniker “Lady Di.”

Her aptitude for academics was low.

Diana was homeschooled up until the age of nine before finishing her education at a boarding school. She left school when she was 16 after failing her O-Levels twice. Before she met Prince Charles, she spent one semester studying abroad in Switzerland.

She held jobs as a teacher and a nanny.

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Diana held a number of odd professions before she met Prince Charles and became a princess, such as nanny and teacher, among others. She played with kids, did laundry, and cleaned for under $5 an hour. She also had a part-time job teaching kindergarten in Pimlico, London.

She was the first royal bride who held a salaried position.

Diana was the only royal bride to ever have a paying profession before to her engagement to an heir when she married Prince Charles in 1981. The Duchess of Cambridge was the first royal bride to acquire a college diploma.

Prince Charles initially dated her older sister.

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Diana’s older sister, Sarah, introduced her to her future husband. Diana initially met Prince Charles during a late 1970s romance between Sarah and him. “I introduced them. I am Cupid “Sarah exclaimed.

Till Diana’s passing, Sarah and Diana frequently traveled together due to their close friendship. Sarah is “the only person I know I can trust,” Diana remarked.

She was Prince Charles’ distant relative.

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Diana and Charles have a remote family connection. They were both Henry VII’s Tudor ancestors, making them 16th cousins once removed.Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, is also connected to him. They are related through Sir Thomas Leighton and are 12th cousins once removed. Leighton is Kate’s 11th great-grandfather and Prince William’s 12th.

Prior to their wedding, she only had 13 encounters with Prince Charles.

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Charles and Diana had only ever met a handful of times before becoming engaged in 1981. Diana was only 19 years old, while Charles was 32. They had only been together 12 times when Prince Phillip told his son, “You have to do the right thing,” according to Susan Zirinsky, senior executive producer of Princess Diana: Her Life, Her Death, The Truth.

She wore a record-breaking bridal gown.

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The husband-and-wife design team of David and Elizabeth Emanuel created Diana’s ivory taffeta wedding gown. The dress had one of the biggest royal trains the world has ever seen, measuring 25 feet long and embellished with over 10,000 pearls.

Her childbirth was the first in a medical facility.

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The heirs to the monarch were customarily born at home. The Lido Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital is where Diana gave birth to both William and Harry, making Prince William the first future monarch to be born there.

She had a very unusual parenting style for a royal.

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Diana wasn’t your typical royal mother. She was adamant on raising Prince William and Prince Harry as “normal” as she could, which included introducing them to fast food restaurants, public transit, and public schools.

According to Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana’s chief of staff for six years : “She made sure that they experienced things like going to the cinema, queuing up to buy a McDonald’s, going to amusement parks, those sorts of things that were experiences that they could share with their friends.”

Her favorite fashion designer was Catherine Walker.

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Catherine Walker, the princess’s personal designer, shared a “quasi-sisterly bond” with her. Many of Diana’s most famous outfits were created by Walker, who is also credited for creating her distinctive aesthetic. Diana penned the following letter to Walker in 1996 regarding donning a white halter dress: “I was so proud and felt very confident to stride out there and deliver my first speech since the divorce. The compliments about your design and expertise would have made your ears burn.”

She consistently sent out thank-you cards.

Diana had a reputation for sending thank-you notes to everyone who gave her gifts. Thousands of individuals apparently received thank-you letters from her after bringing gifts for Prince William. Today, depending on the letter’s substance and distinctiveness, some of her handwritten letters have been auctioned off for anywhere from $2,000 to $20, 000.

She was a trailblazing HIV awareness activist.

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In April 1987, Diana made history when she was seen shaking an HIV patient’s hand without wearing gloves. The image aided in educating the public about HIV and changing their perception of the disease. On that day, the Princess officially opened the first HIV/Aids treatment facility in the UK at London Middlesex Hospital.

She had many well-known friends.

Elton John, George Michael, Tilda Swinton, and Liza Minelli were a few of Diana’s famous pals. Diana spent ten days with William and Harry at Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s ranch in Colorado because she was friends with both actors and wanted to get away from the paparazzi.

ABBA was her favorite

Diana has a well-known obsession with the Swedish pop trio ABBA. At their 2011 wedding reception, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William subtly paid tribute to Diana by playing some of the band ABBA’s music.

She created the phrase “cleavage bags.”

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Diana had to be cautious about what was photographed because cameras were always following her. To prevent cameras from catching a glance down her top, she used her little clutch bags as a guard for her cleavage.

Diana is frequently depicted holding her clutch as a shield when she exits a vehicle to enter an event. Diana’s frequent collaborator Anya Hindmarch commented, “We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars.”

On tape, she candidly expressed her thoughts.

After Diana’s messy public divorce caused a tabloid craze, she decided to record her thoughts on tape to tell her side of the story. She starting documenting them in May 1991, and had a friend deliver them to British royal journalist Andrew Morton.

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“The Princess was talking about her unhappiness, her sense of betrayal, her suicide attempts—and two things I’d never previously heard of: an eating disorder called bulimia nervosa and a woman called Camilla,” Morton said about the tapes.

Based on the tapes he had obtained from Diana, Andrew Morton wrote Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words in 1992. The princess’s story was irrevocably altered by the best-selling book.

With her bodyguard, she engaged in an affair.

Before serving as Diana’s bodyguard in 1985, Barry Mannakee worked for the police department’s Royal Protection Squad. Mannakee was relieved of her royal responsibilities after serving for a year due to their unusually intimate friendship.

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In a tape from a therapy session, Diana said that she was “deeply in love” and was “quite happy to give all this up and to just go off and live with him.”

Even though she doesn’t mention Mannakee by name, it is widely accepted that she was. Many opinions contend that the 1987 motorbike accident in which Mannakee perished was not an accident.

She picked out her engagement ring from a catalog.

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The 12-carat oval sapphire is encircled by 14 solitaire diamonds in the ring. Diana picked the engagement ring from a Garrard’s catalog, which was unique because most royals had their jewelry specially made for them.Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is now the owner of the wedding band. In 2010, Prince William proposed to Kate using the ring, which he saw as a permanent reminder of his mother’s presence.

According to Prince William, “Obviously she’s not going to be around to share all the fun and excitement, so this is my way of sort of keeping her close to it all.”

After her divorce, her title was withdrawn.

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Following her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, Diana’s title of “her royal highness” was formally dropped from her name. But it was Charles, not Queen Elizabeth II, who insisted. The New York Times said that as part of the terms of their divorce, “She has to give up her right to be Queen of England and to be called ‘Her Royal Highness’.”

“Queen Elizabeth II was reported to have been ready to allow Diana to retain the honorific, but Prince Charles was said to be adamant that she give it up.”

Millions were donated to charity thanks to her gowns.

She used her position as a royal fashion icon to encourage donations in addition to serving as an official royal patron to numerous nonprofit groups that support medical financing.

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A Christie’s auction of 79 of Diana’s most recognizable gowns was staged just a few months before she passed away to benefit AIDS and cancer causes. The “Travolta dress,” a velvet blue gown that Princess Diana wore to a gala at the White House where she danced with John Travolta, was one of the most well-known gowns sold.

She referred to Prince William as “Wombat.”

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From the time he was just two years old, Diana began calling her oldest son William “wombat.” Diana started calling the little prince “wombat” after they visited Australia and saw the adorable local animal. Prince William stated in an interview from 2007: “When we went to Australia with our parents, and the wombat, you know, that’s the local animal. So I just basically got called that. Not because I look like a wombat. Or maybe I do.”

Cindy Crawford was invited to Kensington Palace.

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Diana wanted to impress Prince Harry and Prince William, two highly interested teenage boys at the time, so she asked Cindy Crawford over for tea. On the anniversary of Diana’s demise in 2017, Crawford posted a throwback photo to Instagram.

“She asked if the next time I was in London I would come by for tea—I think Prince William was just starting to notice models and she thought it would be a cute surprise for him and Prince Harry,” Crawford wrote. “I was nervous and didn’t know what to wear, but remember as soon as she came into the room and we started talking, it was like talking to a girlfriend. She was a class act and showed us all what a modern day princess should be.”

She was laid to rest on the family’s island.

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Diana was buried on the Althorp Estate in Northampton following her terrible death in a vehicle accident on August 31, 1997, in Paris. The Spencer family has owned the estate for more than 500 years. On Oval Lake, a small island has been set aside as a memorial to her, complete with a temple where admirers can pay their respects.

For Prince Harry, she left a sizable inheritance.

William and Harry received a 21 million euro inheritance from Diana’s estate. The assets were divided equally between the two princes after her passing, but after being cut off financially from the royal family, Harry later used a sizable amount of his share to establish a new life in the United States with his bride Meghan Markle.

In their shocking interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry revealed his decision to resign from the royal family along with duchess Meghan. “I have what my mum left me and without that we wouldn’t have been able to do this, It’s like she saw it coming and she’s been with us through this whole process.”

In her honor, a statue was erected.

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In remembrance of their late mother, Princess Diana, Princes William and Harry commissioned a statue, which was unveiled in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on July 1, 2021, Diana’s 60th birthday. The event represented the reunification of the two princes, who had not spoken to one another since Harry left the royal family in 2020.

She might have known that she would die.

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The late princess seems to have had foresight into her own demise, igniting rumors that the royal family had planned her tragic Paris vehicle accident. In an unsettling handwritten message in October 1993, Diana said to her butler Paul Burrell, “My husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry [Camilla].”

She battled an eating disorder.

The late princess admitted to having bulimia for a number of years in her infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC. She articulately addressed the causes of the eating disorder as follows: “[Bulimia is] like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day—some do it more—and it gives you a feeling of comfort. It’s like having a pair of arms around you. But it’s temporary.”

She had no interest in becoming Queen.

Diana had never been interested in or thought it would actually happen, despite being in line to one day become the Queen. In a 1995 BBC interview, she said, “I’d like to be queen of people’s hearts—in people’s hearts—but I don’t see myself being Queen of this country,” she told Bashir during her 1995 BBC interview. “I don’t think many people would want me to be queen, actually. When I say many people I mean the establishment that I’m married into, because they’ve decided that I’m a non-starter … because I do things differently.”

She disregarded a royal wedding vow.

When Diana chose not to take the vow to “obey” her husband as required by the Book of Common Prayer dating back to 1662, she broke barriers and established a precedent for royal brides.

Rather, she committed to ”love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health.” During their wedding ceremonies, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle both kept the word “obey” out of their vows.

She challenged Camilla directly.

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Diana reportedly approached Camilla face-to-face at a reception at the height of Prince Charles’ not-so-secret affair with her to let her know that she was aware of her and Charles sneaking off behind her back. Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, allegedly witnessed this conversation and quotes Diana as saying to Camilla: “Please don’t treat me like an idiot. I know what’s going on.”

“Camilla sort of said something, to which still to this day I have never really understood what she meant by that, is ‘Well, you know, you have two wonderful boys,’” Wharfe also said. “That was a defining moment in their life because I think at that point … this was an indicator the end was nigh.”

She was once unpopular with Queen Elizabeth II.

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When the late Queen met a young Lady Diana, at 20 years old, before she married Prince Charles, she was not fully pleased. Her Majesty reportedly told the Fleet Street editors about Diana, “She’s not like the rest of us.” She is rather young.

She also didn’t like Diana’s efforts to raise money for AIDS and HIV patients since she thought the topics were gloomy. Her Majesty reportedly stated that she preferred Diana engage in charitable endeavors with “something more pleasant.”

She was a royal outlaw.

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The princess of the people was notorious for flouting royal custom. Many of these transgressions involved her more contemporary clothing choices, such as not donning gloves (Diana reportedly liked to hold hands while visiting people), as well as dressing in black, such as the time she wore her well-known figure-hugging “revenge dress” in 1994 in London, the same day that Charles also made his affair public. Diana chose to send her two sons to a public school, where, during a “sports day,” she raced barefoot among other parents, breaking yet another royal rule against receiving an education outside of the palace.

She visited Meghan Markle’s alma mater.

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There were numerous connections between the two royals. Princess Diana visited Northwestern University during a five-day visit to the Chicago area in June 1996 to support the university’s Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center. Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, would enroll there a few years later. Diana was seen on campus while visiting in what has come to be known as an iconic paparazzi photo of the recently divorced princess wearing a lounge outfit that included a Northwestern sweatshirt and white biking shorts.

She was well-known as a cover model.

Being a fashion star who frequently flouted royal convention with her attire, she was predictably frequently featured on the covers of various magazines, including People over 50 times, Time eight times, as well as Good Housekeeping, Life, Hello! Tutler, and Harper’s BAZAAR.

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