30+ things you may not know about Princess Diana
Who was Princess Diana? And why was she such an influential and beloved member of the British royal family? Here are 30+ things you may not know about Princess Diana, the former Princess of Wales (1961-1997).
- Diana Spencer Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 at Park House, Sandringham, England.
- She was the daughter of Edward John Spencer and Frances Ruth Burke Roche. She had three siblings (two older sisters and a younger brother) – Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and Charles Spencer (9th Earl Spencer).
- In 1975, her father inherited the earldom from his father, becoming the 8th Earl of Spencer. Her maternal grandmother was once the lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother.
- Her parents parted ways in 1967, with the divorce finalized in 1969. Both parents went on to remarry subsequently. Diana’s mother got married to an Australian businessman called Peter Shand Kydd; while her father married Raine McCorquodale in 1976.
- Owing to her parents’ troubled marriage, Diana developed a strong passion to be of service to children living in broken homes – hence her numerous charity initiatives.
- She grew up in the custody of her father. At age 9, Diana enrolled at Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk. She later joined her two older sisters – Jane and Sarah – at West Heath Girls’ School in Kent. Historians state that Diana did not excel very well in her academics. She failed her Ordinary-level exams (O-level) twice, leaving school without a high school diploma. She did however have a passion for sports, dancing and music.
- In 1975, she became the Lady of Spencer following her father’s inheritance of the Earldom of Spencer. After a few courses at Institut Alpin Videmanette in Switzerland, Diana committed her life to working with children in a kindergarten.
Lady Diana’s Marriage to Prince Charles
- Diana met her future husband Prince Charles at the age of 16. Charles, who was 29 at the time, was dating Sarah Spencer – Diana’s older sister. Prior to her marriage to Prince Charles, she was fat shamed by some unscrupulous newspapers.
Princess Diana’s Wedding Ceremony
- Just a few weeks shy of turning 20, Diana got married to Prince Charles at an amazing ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The wedding was watched all across the world by several millions (in fact, close to a billion) of people. Diana’s wedding ranks up there as one of the greatest wedding of the 20th century.
- In her wedding vows, she purposely omitted the word “obey” – perhaps a sign of the tumultuous relationship that fate had in store for the royal couple. The absence of “obey” in royal wedding vows became the norm. Diana’s union with Prince Charles allowed her to be bestowed upon with the title of Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales.
Did you know: Charles and Diana met for just over 13 times before they tied the knot in 1981?
- Princess Diana’s wedding ring made headlines across the UK. The ring had a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire enveloped by diamonds and an 18-karat white gold. It was estimated that Diana’s wedding ring cost about £28,000.
- On the day of her wedding (July 29, 1981), she dressed in a spectacular silk taffeta dress (designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel) that had a train of about 25 feet. With that length of dress train, it took the bride an amazing three minutes to make it down the aisle.
- The black taffeta dress that Diana wore on her first official royal event (post her marriage to Charles) was sold in 2010 for a whopping £192,000 by the auction house Kerry Taylor. The dress was purchased by a fashion museum in Chile.
Honeymoon and Children
- The first official royal trip that Diana made with Charles and William was to New Zealand and Australia.
- She and her husband Prince Charles had two children together – Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. Diana and Charles spent their honeymoon in Balmoral, Scotland.
- She once told biographer Andrew Morton that Prince Charles was not so enthused after seeing their second son Prince Harry. She stated that Charles desired to have a girl. Charles was also taken aback by Harry’s red hair.
- Diana told journalist Andrew Morton that she sometimes deployed cunning means to get Charles’ attention. In the interview with Morton she claimed that she intentionally fell during her pregnancy with Prince William in order to get some attention from Charles.
- Princes Diana was fully aware of Charles’ infidelity (with Lady Camilla Parker Bowles).
- At a White House dinner on November 9, 1985 U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan paired Hollywood star John Travolta and Princess Diana as dance partners. The dress that she wore to the dinner later sold for £240,000.
- Owing to the immense pressure and scrutiny from media outlets, Diana announced to the world in 1993 that she was removing herself from public life.
Trouble in paradise and divorce
- Prime Minister John Major was the one who broke the news that Princess Diana and Prince Charles were officially splitting after 11 years of marriage. This announcement was made in December 1992. Her divorce with Charles was widely covered. In the end, the court gave her a $22.5 million cash settlement and annual upkeep stipend of $600,000. The royal family persuaded the court to force her to drop the title of Her Royal Highness from her name.
- By divorcing Charles, Princess Diana agreed to relinquish any future claim to the British crown. Although her HRH (Her Royal Highness) title was stripped away, she was still allowed to be called Princess Diana.
- After her split from Prince Charles, Princes Diana allegedly entered into a number of romantic relationships. It was alleged that in 1992 she dated James Gilby. She also dated Pakistani-born cardiologist Hasnat Khan and then British former cavalry officer James Hewitt.
- In June 1997, she made a big splash over the front cover of the famous magazine Vanity Fair.
- In 1987, she showed her humanity by going against royal protocols and shaking (without gloves) the hands of a man infected with AIDS. Acts of such nature made the public fall madly in love with Princess Diana.
- She was involved in so many charitable and distinguished causes around the globe. From the minefield-ridden African country of Angola to a host of charity organizations in Tokyo, Diana invested her time and status to serve others. It was estimated that she had dealings with over 100 charity organizations across the world.
A car crash that shocked the nation and the world at large
- On the day (August 30, 1997) that the car Diana was riding in crashed in Paris, France, her companion’s driver Henri Paul was driving under the influence of alcohol. Investigators found out that the driver’s blood alcohol level was about three times over the legal limit. The car crash killed her companion Dodi Fayed and his driver. Diana and her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones were rushed to the hospital. In spite of the frantic efforts by doctors at the Paris’ PItié-St. Salpêtrière Hospital, Diana simply could not be saved. The former Princes of Wales, 36, died at 4 in the morning.
Diana’s Funeral Ceremony and Procession
- Diana’s death took the royal family by surprise; the public was absolutely gutted by her passing; and people all over the world mourned her death. Her funeral procession and ceremony (on September 6, 1997) at Westminster Abbey was watched by about 2.5 billion people across the globe. Legendary British singer Sir Elton John gave a heartfelt performance at the ceremony.
- It was estimated that over 1 million people lined the streets of London to offer their last respect to Diana during her funeral procession on September 6, 1997.
- Diana’s body was laid to rest at her family’s home in Althorp, England. Her remains are buried on a beautiful man-made island on the estate.
- After her death, a section of the public called for the prosecution of the photographers (paparazzi) that stalked Diana on the day she died. However, those charges were later dropped as part of the healing process.
Princess Diana’s Legacy
- Prince William (Second in line to the British throne as at 2021) used Diana’s ring in proposing to Kate Middleton, presently the Duchess of Cambridge. In 2015, the couple also honored her by naming their second daughter (Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana) after her.