The People's Princess: Ways Princess Diana Was Just Like the Rest of Us
Diana wasn't called the "People's Princess" for no reason. From the moment she was crowned, Lady Diana Spencer was the most down-to-earth royal in history. Through her acts of kindness, her fierce advocacy and her ideas for modernizing the monarchy, she left a lasting mark on the royal family — whether they want to admit it or not.
Although she was known as a royal rebel to those in power, Diana brought an appealing sense of humanity and humility to her royal role, and the people adored her. Here are some fun and interesting ways that Princess Diana was just as pedestrian as the rest of us.
She Had a Complicated Relationship with Her M.I.L.
When Princess Diana joined the royal family, she was young, high-spirited and humble — and she wanted little to do with royal protocol. Her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, struggled to respect Diana due to her unwillingness to stick to royal customs.
She Used a Few Choice Words
Curse words from royals are few and far between. Although Princess Diana didn't curse frequently — at least, not during public outings or interviews — one particularly vulgar curse hit tabloids in 1992 as rumors of her divorce from Charles swirled. "My life is just torture...Bloody hell, after all I’ve done for this f**king family...I’ll go out and conquer the world."
Her Sister Was Her Matchmaker
Surprisingly, Charles and Diana didn't meet through the normal royal channels. By the time they met, Charles was in his early 30s, and his family members were pressuring him to marry. In November of 1977, Charles was dating Diana's sister Sarah when he met her.
She Messed Up Charles' Name at Their Wedding
Weddings are definitely a nerve-wracking experience for any bride and groom. Imagine hundreds of millions of people tuning in from around the world to watch. That's a lot of pressure, right? Anyone experiencing that kind of stress could, understandably, lose their marbles. However, Diana somehow kept her cool — for the most part.
She Went to Bed Whenever She Wanted
One royal protocol that is difficult for some to follow is that you absolutely don’t go to bed before the Queen. Diana hated this rule. The Queen's private secretary, Sir William Heseltine, shared in a book interview, "For Diana, the long royal evenings were agony."
She Wrote "Thank You" Notes for Gifts
Have you ever written — or maybe been forced to write — a "thank you" card for a Christmas or birthday gift? Diana did just that for the presents she received. Despite the fact that she was a royal and received thousands of gifts following her wedding and pregnancies, she hand-wrote a majority of the thank you cards herself.
She Liked to Eat in the Kitchen (But Couldn't Cook)
Darren McGrady, Princess Diana's chef, shared that the princess often ate lunch or dinner alone, leaning over the countertop and chatting with the kitchen staff. "If she was on her own for lunch, she'd actually come and eat in the kitchen," McGrady shared with HuffPost.
She Struggled with Her Mental Health
Diana suffered from severe depression and bulimia nervosa. On personal audio tapes, she shared that her bulimia began after "my husband...said, ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ and that triggered something in me...I got terribly, terribly thin. People started commenting, ‘Your bones are showing.’"
She Had a Job Before Her Engagement
Before Diana became engaged to Charles, she worked at a series of low-paying jobs in London. Eventually, she scored a lovely position as a kindergarten teacher in London's Pimlico district. She didn't quit working simply because she was dating a prince.
She Shared a Flat with Three Roommates
When she worked as a kindergarten teacher, Diana lived in a gorgeous flat with three of her closest gal pals. The luxurious three-bedroom apartment at 60 Coleherne Court was a gift from her parents and Diana's favorite place to live.
She Wore Whatever She Wanted and Defined an Era of Style
A royal designer may have created Diana’s clothes, but that didn’t mean she gave up her own style. Princess Diana's outfits epitomized some of the greatest British fashion trends of the ‘80s. She often ignored royal protocol when picking what she wanted to wear, from bright-colored nail polish to bizarre pieces of jewelry.
She Advocated for Her Beliefs
In the past, members of the royal family often kept their personal opinions about controversial, political and social matters hidden. In contrast, Diana often expressed her thoughts on topics like mental illness, marriage, infidelity and politics. She voiced her boldest opinions in a fashion that no previous royal ever had before.
She Had a Hard Time in School
As a princess, she frequently used her powers for good, traveling all over the globe to expand her worldview and invest in charity work, and that included supporting organizations related to education. Although Diana was extremely bright, she had struggled when she was young to make good marks in school.
She Picked Her Engagement Ring from a Catalog
Diana's means of attaining her gorgeous engagement ring wasn't much different than that of any typical shopper at the time. Often, royals had their rings personally designed to create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry just for them. What royal would purchase something that anyone else could buy?
She Snuck Out of the House
When you have royal status, outings are a big deal. You won't catch any princes or princesses walking around in sweatpants, hoodies or sneakers with all the "regular" people. To hit the town, royals must choose a proper outfit, and they have to be prepared to be photographed at every turn.
She Rocked Out to ABBA
A look at the record collection of Princess Diana would reveal her love for artists like Bob Dylan, John Denver, Paul Simon and the Eagles. However, her favorite musical group of all time was the uber-popular Swedish band ABBA, who sang Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All.
Her Favorite Film Was The Rocky Horror Picture Show
What's not to love about The Rocky Horror Picture Show? This cult-classic boasts loving audiences across the globe, and one of its more coveted fans was Princess Diana. She couldn't get enough of the bizarre musical comedy, and she made sure Tim Curry knew it.
Her Childhood Wasn't All That Grand
Princess Diana and her four siblings had a traumatic upbringing. Her parents were frequently in miserable conflict, and her father physically abused her mother. Diana believed a great portion of their sadness and misery was due to the death of the sibling born shortly before her, John.
She Showed Affection to Her Children
Before Diana's era, royals were encouraged to not show affection toward their children. Kids were often left behind with nannies while their parents attended to their royal responsibilities. However, Diana didn't want to sit on the sidelines of her children's' lives.
She Gave Her Kids a Normal Childhood
Diana wanted to give her boys a normal childhood. That meant showing them love but also exposing them to the world beyond the palace. The boys rode the bus, went to Disney (and stood in line for the rides), ate Happy Meals from McDonald's and attended public school.
She Had a Precious Nickname for William
Parents come up with cute names to call their children all the time, and Diana was no exception to this parental practice. When her eldest, William, was 2, she began to lovingly call him "wombat." Where did this come from? On a trip to Australia, Diana and William saw one of the precious creatures in person.
She Gave Hugs to Non-Royals
In the royal family, touching was once extremely taboo. Even stricter were the rules against touching non-royals. Royal protocol says that strangers, pedestrians and other people beyond the royal bubble are not allowed to touch members of the royal family.
She Crouched to Speak to Kids
If Diana was having a conversation with a child, she always crouched down to speak to them. Why was this so significant? She was the first royal to ever talk to young people at their eye level. She did this to ensure that they felt heard.
She Was Sincere About Her Emotions
Up until Diana joined the royal family, royals didn't publicly discuss their feelings. The press could report what they perceived to be true of the lives of the royals, but interviews and other media events were often choreographed, scripted and apathetic (or just pathetic).
She Was a Killer Dancer
Along with being one of the kindest royals in history, Princess Diana had hidden talents. She loved to dance as much as she loved music. As a child, she even intended to become a ballerina, but she was too tall.
She Loved to Play Piano
Diana could play a killer set on the piano. She knew how to perform a number of songs, including complex pieces. She had a gorgeous grand piano in her post-palace apartment, and she would sit and play for herself and her guests.
She Took Off Her Heels When Her Feet Hurt
As a princess, Diana wore a variety of formal dresses, jewelry and shoes during outings. One section of her wardrobe that she absolutely rocked? Her heels. She wore a variety of incredible pumps during her time as a princess, in all different colors and styles.
She Went to the Gym
With the pressure of royalty on her shoulders, Diana had enough anxiety to last her a few hundred lifetimes. Wisely, she developed an exercise routine to help her shake some stress. She spent mornings each week swimming, stretching or hitting the gym.
She Let Her Children Eat Junk Food
Pizza, fish sticks and McDonald's hamburgers aren't what most people imagine seeing on a royal menu. However, Diana ensured that her sons were able to eat what they wanted. This included some of the processed, sugary staples of childhood, such as fast food and potato chips, but not in excessive amounts.
She Thrived as a Single Woman
When Diana and Charles divorced, she was stripped of the title Her Royal Highness (at Charles' insistence), although she remained Princess of Wales. However, this did not devastate her. Her life before her marriage to Charles was a happy time, and she was happy once again without him.