Lady Diana wanted to be a “people’s princess” breaking down the barriers between the Royal family and the commoners. Today she is remembered as the trailblazer and a style icon. Even though she was hunted by the media, Diana managed to keep some parts of her life private. Here are some things you never knew about the late princess.
Diana came from the eminent family
Lady Diana’s family tree stretches back to the Tudor era in the 1600s. The SPencer family made their fortune as wool traders in the 17th century. They helped King George to get on the throne and in return got their titles, and by 1765 they earned their earldom. To this day, the Spencer family remains one that is close to the ruler of the United Kingdom multiplying their wealth.
Diana grew up in a house leased from Queen Elizabeth II
Sandringham House is owned by the Queen but was leased to the Spencer family. On the royal grounds, there is Park House where Diana Spencer was born in 1961. The Norfolk estate is cherished by the Royals and is often the spot where they spend important dates.
She was a high-school dropout
Diana was homeschooled until her third grade when she was sent to boarding school. However, she failed her exams twice before her family transferred her to the school in Switzerland. Diana finished one semester in her new school before that faithful encounter with Prince Charles.
For her 18th birthday, she got a London condo
For her 18th birthday Spencer’s gifted Diana a flat in the posh London neighborhood of Kensington. She lived there for two years with three other roommates. Later, after her turbulent marriage, Diana called it “the happiest days of my life”.
Diana’s dream was to become a ballerina but was too tall
The princess dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina. However, in her adolescence, she outgrew the criteria for becoming a dancer. She was too tall to pursue a career in ballet, but she continued to dance throughout her adulthood.
Diana became a “Lady Diana” by inheritance
Diana got her title of “Lady” in 1975 when her father inherited the earldom. Later, the Queen gave her the title of Princess of Wales, but “Lady Di” stuck with her till the end.
Prince Charles was dating her older sister
Sarah Spencer, Diana’s older sister, and Prince Charles had a brief romance back in the 1970s. Once, when Charles came to pick up Sarah for a date he met Lady Di. Diana was only 16 at the time, but she later talked about having love at first sight with Charles.
Diana worked as a nanny before marrying into the Royal family
Before becoming a princess, Diana worked as a nanny, which included doing laundry for the family and some light cleaning. Her first pay was $5 per hour. She also worked part-time as a teacher in kindergarten.
Diana’s parents are divorced
Diana’s parents went through a very messy divorce in 1969 after her mother left her father for another man. The former couple fought in court for custody of Diana and her three other siblings. The Earl won at the end and Diana never saw her mother again. She was only 7 years old at the time which, by her own addition, left life-long scars.
She was 16 when she met 29-year old Charles
Supposedly, Diana was infatuated by Prince Charles even before she met him in 1977. The two officially met when she was only 16, and Charles was 29. “I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything”, Charles said at the time about his future wife.
Diana’s grandmother was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother
Ruth Roche, Lady Diana’s maternal grandmother was the Queen’s personal assistant and companion. She was very close to the royal family organizing a lot of special events. Lady-in-waiting also stayed close to her son-in-law and four grandchildren after testifying against her daughter in the custody battle.
Diana was the first Royal wife to have a job
Diana was the first one to marry a hair to the throne while holding a paying job. She loved working with children and was reluctant to give it up. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge is the first one to have a college degree.
Lady Diana and Charles were distant cousins
Diana and Charles are distant, very, very distant cousins. They are the 16th cousins once removed, meaning there is one generation gap between them. They share a common ancestor – Tudor King Henry VII.
Diana saw Charles only a dozen times before marrying him
Diana and Charles were mostly separated during their engagement. Prince went on a tour in Australia for six weeks while Diana stayed alone in Buckingham Palace. The two married in 1981 after seeing each other in person only 12 times.
Lady Di’s engagement ring was picked from the catalog
Diana chose the famous 12-carat blue sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds engagement ring from Gerrard’s catalog. Other royal rings were all custom-made, but Diana fell in love with this one. Today, the ring belongs to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Diana’s wedding dress broke records
Diana’s wedding dress was made by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the wife-husband creative duo. It was embellished with 10,000 stones and boasted a 25-foot train. The world was in awe when Lady Diana arrived in the golden carriage.
The Princess forgot parts of her wedding vows
Diana turned heads at the ceremony not only for her stunning dress. The Princess purposely omitted to promise to “obey” her husband. Instead, she would “love, comfort, honor and keep” him. William and Kate followed the suit skipping the same part about obeying.
Diana was the first one to give birth in the hospital, instead of at home
Traditionally, the Royals give birth at home. However, Diana was nervous about the delivery, and she chose to go to the hospital instead. Both William and Harry were born in St. Mary’s hospital, making them the first royal babies to be born outside the palace.
She was an unconventional parent to her sons
Unlike other Royal moms, Diana was very hands-on with her two boys. She tried to keep their lives as normal as possible, taking them to McDonald’s and going to the amusement parks with them. It raise some brows in Buckingham Palace, but there was never any official comment about her unconventional parenting.
Catherine Walker’s designs were Diana’s favorites
Catherine Walker is the person behind Lady Diana’s unforgettable style. She designed many gowns that found their place in history not only by the person that wore them but by how elegant they looked. Catherine and Diana formed a sister-like relationship over time which gave her the freedom to create some unorthodox pieces.
Diana always responded with a “Thank you” note
After Prince William was born, Lady Diana received thousands of cards congratulating her and Charles. However, the princess sat down and sent back a handwritten “Thank You” card to every single person. Since her death, the cards were auctioned off for up to $20,000.
She was an HIV activist
In 1987, HIV was a death sentence for many. Also, there were few facts known about the disease, so naturally, people were scared of catching it. The vast majority believed that it was contagious, so when Princess Diana shook hands with an HIV patient, the photo went around the world. She made history and raised awareness about the virus that changed the patients’ positions in society forever.
Many celebrities were Diana’s friends
George Michael, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Kurt Russel, and Goldie Hawn, Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Nicol Kidman, John Travolta, and Kelly Preston, just to name a few. Diana was a regular at the celebrity parties where she rubbed elbows with many famous people.
ABBA was her favorite group
Princess of Wales was known to be a huge fan of ABBA. To honor her, Kate and William played some of the band’s popular songs at their wedding reception.
Diana came up with a “cleavage bag”
Paparazzi were relentless in hunting down Lady Di. Everywhere she went, she was surrounded by cameras. Since she was a part of the Royal family with very strict protocols, Diana came up with the phenomenon of the “cleavage bag” to hide her bust.
She kept her diary on a tape
Following her messy divorce, Diana started noting her thoughts on the tape. She started documenting her inner feelings in 1991delivering them to the journalist Andrew Morton. “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. He published the book based on tapes titled “Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words” which was an instant bestseller.
Diana had an affair with her bodyguard
Barry Mannakee was Diana’s bodyguard in 1985. The two grew close very quickly which raised suspicion among the royal family members. He was fired a year later and died in a car accident in 1987. His death was highly debated, but nothing was ever proved. Diana talked about being in love and was “quite happy to give all this up and to just go off and live with him.
Lady Di auctioned off all her dresses for AIDS and cancer charities
A couple of months before she died in a car crash in Paris, Diana auctioned off all of her gowns to raise money for AIDS. The blue velvet dress in which she danced with John Travolta at the White House, alone raised $290,000.
Prince Charles insisted that Diana is stripped of her royal highness title
Queen Elizabeth II was not the one insisting that Diana gives up on her title – Prince Charles was. According to their divorce, she is to be stripped of the right to become a queen and is not to be called “her royal highness”.
Diana gave William a nickname – Wombat
“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”, Prince William talked about the nickname in 2007.
Diana called Cindy Crawford to the Palace, to please her sons
To please her sons, Lady Siana called Cindy Crawford to the palace. The teenagers were thrilled, especially William who was starting to take interest in girls. “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”, Crawford said in 2017.
Lady Diana is buried at her family’s estate
Diana was buried in 1997 on Althorp Estate in Northampton owned by her family for over five centuries. There is a small island on the lake with a temple where people around the world come to pay their respects to the princess.