Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales

Shannon Quinn - January 7, 2021

Diana, Princess of Wales, was known as “The People’s Princess”. She was incredibly well-loved for being down-to-earth, charitable, and kind. Her beauty and youthful spirit made her a favorite, and millions mourned her death when she died. Even decades after her death, people still remember Princess Diana as their favorite member of the royal family. But there are plenty of secrets that went on behind closed doors. Even if you watched The Crown Season 4, there are plenty of facts that you may not have known about Princess Diana.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana at 19 years old, working at a nursery school. Credit: AARP

20. As a Child, She was Called Stupid by Her Family

Members of the aristocracy can hire governesses and tutors to ensure that their children get top marks in school. However, Diana always struggled with her school work. In interviews with her voice coach, Peter Settelen, she shared that her parents called her “the thick one”. They built up her brother’s intelligence, and constantly put her down. Every time she got a bad grade, she would cry, and feel horrible about herself. This caused her to form very low self-esteem. Even into her adulthood, she often called herself “thick” or “stupid”.

This is likely why she felt inspired to become a nursery school teacher’s assistant when she was 18 years old. She loved children, and felt passionately about teaching them in a kind and loving way. In the book Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words, she is quoted saying that she felt like a dropout, and that she was hopeless. This made her feel like she had very few practical life skills. The opportunity to marry the Prince of Wales must have seemed like her best option, even though there were plenty of red flags.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
The iconic Rowing Blazers black sheep jumper. Credit: Vanity Fair

19. She Wore Iconic Sweaters (Or Jumpers, as the Brits Call Them.)

After becoming a Princess, Diana became a fashion icon. Paparazzi photographed her at every public event wearing designer gowns. But years before she was officially royalty, she always had a keen fashion sense. She also became friends with several fashion designers during her time as princess.

 

Some of the most famous pieces of clothing she made popular were her sweaters, or “jumpers” as the Brits call them. A company called Rowing Blazers recently started making the vintage patterns that Diana once wore, like the black sheep. These were so popular, they immediately sold out. If you want one, you’ll have to pre-order it at $300 and wait several months for it to be made.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana was named after her ancestor, Lady Diana Spencer (left). Credit: Five Minute History

18. She Was Named After Another Young Lady Who Also Died Young

Oddly enough, Princess Diana was named after a different woman in her family, who was also named Diana Spencer. She, too, courted the Prince of Wales and died young. Creepy, right? The first Lady Diana Spencer lived in the 18th Century. She passed away at 25 years old from tuberculosis, and never had the opportunity to become a princess. Just like the modern-day Princess, Lady Spencer was known for her kind heart and the fact that she loved to help people. With so much in common, it almost seems as though the name “Diana” was a curse upon their family.

 

If you want to know more about the first Diana Spencer, check out the book called The First Diana: Almost a Princess: The Tragic Story of the First Lady Diana Spencer by Sarah J. Freeman. Most of the book is pieced together from letters from the 1700’s that Diana wrote to her grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough. Just like the modern-day Diana, her parents seemed to be cruel, and her life was full of tragedy before dying young. This is a strange coincidence, but a larger piece of the puzzle in the Spencer family history.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana’s stepmother, Raine Spencer. Credit: The Gentlewoman

17. She Hated Her “Evil” Stepmom

Diana was only 6 years old when her father, Frances Spencer, divorced her mother and married his second wife, Raine McCorquodale. The Spenser children had to find out about the wedding from the newspapers, and their father never explained anything to them. Because of this, they saw her as a sort of evil stepmother who was responsible for tearing their family apart.

Two days after their father died, Raine packed all of her things, and moved out of the Spencer family home. It’s not clear if she did this because Diana and her siblings chose to kick her out, or if she did this because of the terrible relationship she had with her stepchildren. However, years later, Diana was spotted having lunch with Raine several times. It seems as though time and maturity helped her to understand that her stepmother wasn’t evil, after all.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Dame Barbara Cartland was known for wearing extravagant jewels, gowns, and wigs. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

16. Diana’s Step-Grandmother Was a Famous Romance Novelist

Diana’s parents divorced when she was 6 years old. Her father, Frances Spencer, married Raine McCorquodale. Her mother, and Diana’s step-grandmother, was a famous romance novelist named Barbara Cartland. She was considered to be one of the most prolific writers of her time. In 1977, she won the Guinness World Record for writing 26 novels in one year. Over the course of a 77-year long career, she published 723 novels. At the time of her death, her net worth was estimated to be $17.6 million.

 

Barbara was married to a man named Alexander. But at one point, she claimed that her daughter Raine was the illegitimate daughter of Prince George, Duke of Kent. This would have made her daughter part of the royal bloodline, which would make sense as to why she was a marriage option for Frances Spencer. Prince George passed away in 1942 in a plane crash, so he wasn’t around to dispute this claim. However, it was widely known in the royal family that George was bisexual, and shamelessly had affairs with both sexes on a regular basis.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
The massive engagement ring could be purchased by any commoner. Credit: Brides Magazine

15. Diana Chose A Unique Engagement Ring That Caused A Bit of a Scandal

Diana was given a choice of engagement rings to choose from. Some of them were from a catalogue, while others were family heirlooms. She was asked to pick a ring at random, without knowing which rings were from the jeweler Garrard, and which were vintage. Out of all of the rings, Diana picked a massive blue sapphire ring. The jewelry modeled the ring after Queen Victoria’s sapphire ring, which was her “something blue” on her wedding day. Diana’s choice was considered to be a bit of a scandal, because the ring she chose was one of the most expensive. It was available to purchase by anyone, even if they were outside of the royal family.

 

The ring cost roughly $60,000 at the time. So, obviously, not just anyone could afford it. But there were plenty of people out there who purchased the ring, and replicas soon followed. Giving Diana the choice of rings was meant to be a “test”, and apparently she failed. However, they shouldn’t have given it to her as an option if they didn’t like it! The ring quickly became a huge hit with the public. It was eventually inherited by Diana’s son, Prince William, and he gave it to his wife Kate Middleton in 2010.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
The happy couple. Credit: AARP

14. The Meeting With Prince Charles Was Different Than What You Saw on TV

If you’ve seen Season 4 of The Crown, you’ll remember that Prince Charles was dating Sarah Spencer, Diana’s older sister while he was secretly seeing Camilla Parker Bowles. He meets Diana while she is dressed in a costume for her school performance William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In reality, that may not have actually happened. Prince Charles said that he remembered meeting the 16-year old Diana at Park House in Norfolk, and she stood out to him because of her bubbly and cheerful personality.

 

In The Crown Season 4, we see the now 18-year old Diana approach Charle’s car to give her sympathies over the death of Charle’s mentor, Lord Mountbatten. The true story is a bit less chaste. In reality, Diana gave Charles her condolences at a mutual friend’s house in Sussex. This was enough for Charles to read into it completely. Diana said that Charlies immediately started kissing her, and the began a full on “snogging” session. She thought, “This is not what people do!” But who can say “no” to a prince?

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana must have been nervous on her wedding day. Credit: The History Channel

13. Diana Accidentally Said Her Vows Wrong on Her Wedding Day

Something embarrassing that happened to Diana was that she said her vows incorrectly on her wedding day! She was supposed to state his full name; Charles Philip Arthur George. But she was so nervous, she accidentally called him Philip Charles Arthur George. Whoops. This is one of those mistakes that many brides must have made in the past, especially when there are so many middle names. However, having millions of eyes on you only compounds the pressure.

A story we don’t hear as often is that Prince Charles made a mistake, too. Instead of saying “my earthly goods”, he said “thy goods” to Diana. Obviously, their slip-ups didn’t change the fact that she did, in fact, get married and become the princess. Hopefully she realized that her husband’s name was Charles, not Philip! Prince Charles was also so eager to get the ceremony over with, he forgot to kiss Diana when the pastor told him to “kiss the bride”.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana on her wedding day. Credit: Getty Images

12. Diana’s Wedding Has Gone Down in History As One Of The Most Expensive Ceremonies Ever

Princess Diana and Prince Charle’s wedding has gone down in history as one of the most expensive ceremonies in history. At the time, the royal wedding cost $48 million. After today’s inflation, that’s more like $137 million today. Diana’s dress was designed by Elizabeth Emanuel, and the train was 25 feet long. Diana wore the Spencer family tiara on her wedding day, and it has since been replicated and worn by fans around the world. There were 27 cakes, a massive amount of flowers, and so much more.

The public called it a “fairytale” wedding. There was a firework display in Hyde Park the day before the ceremony, and 600,000 people gathered in crowds in London. Over 750 million people tuned in live to watch the wedding on TV. However, even with the flashing cameras and adoring fans, Diana knew she was about to enter a loveless marriage. Later, she said that it was “the worst day of her life”.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
A scene from The Crown Season 4. Credit: Vanity Fair

11. Diana Got Her Exercise Indoors Whenever Possible

If you watched Season 4 of The Crown, you probably noticed how she rolled around the palace in roller skates while listening to Duran Duran. In a Vanity Fair interview, a producer of The Crown, Oona O’Beirn, said that the princess did, in fact, roller skate throughout Buckingham Palace. In a biography called The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown, it was said that she would ride a bicycle through the halls. England is notoriously rainy, so it’s understandable why she would want to get some exercise.

When weather permitted, Diana would skate outside. Tabloid magazines showed images of Diana skating through the park on a regular basis. In The Crown, the scene of her skating was really meant to show her sense of fun, even when she was in such a serious situation. She was also just a teenager at the time. As Prince Charles says in the show, “She’s just a child”.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana were her sons William and harry. Credit: Pinterest

10. She Took Her Sons to Disney World and Ate at McDonalds Like Everyone Else

Many celebrities try to keep their children out of the public eye. This is especially true of members of the royal family, whose lives were far from normal. However, Princess Diana was determined to give her sons as normal of a life as humanly possible. Aside from bringing her sons to do charity work, she also brought her sons to McDonald’s, and wanted them to have fun just like normal kids.

 

When she visited Disney World in 1993, she made William and Harry stand in line like everyone else, and insisted that they didn’t receive any special treatment. Of course, they still had a security team watching their every move. The family also used underground tunnels to help them get to different parts of the park. Photos of their trip circulated through the press, because it was very strange for royals to take their kids to Disney World.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana shaking the hands of a man with AIDS. Credit: Tatler

9. She Didn’t Hesitate To Shake The Hands Of Someone With AIDS

For years, there was a false belief that people with AIDS were contagious simply by standing near them. This made people terrified of AIDS patients, and they didn’t want to go anywhere near them. Of course, the reality is that AIDS can only be spread through the exchange of bodily fluids. Princess Diana was the first member of the royal family to shake hands with AIDS patients without wearing gloves. There has never been a royal who went out of their way to help a community of sick people like this.

 

This act of kindness was considered to be a huge moment for people who had AIDS, and who had been falsely treated as social pariahs. Princess Diana was known for being friends with several gay men, namely Elton John and Gianni Versace. She knew first-hand how horrible the stigma was for the gay community. Because of her compassion, it quickly became public knowledge that AIDS doesn’t spread through touch alone. Today, this is taught in sex education classes in High School, and there are few people who believe the old misconception.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana feeding children in Zimbabwe together with The Red Cross. Credit: Biography

8. Diana Was a Member of More Than 100 Charities

Princess Diana spent the vast majority of her time working with over 100 charities around the world. This is why she earned the nickname “The People’s Princess”, because it was clear that she truly cared about normal people. Unfortunately, this charity work got her into some trouble with members of the royal family, especially when she began to fly overseas to help people in need. Some believed that this was taking too strong of a political stance on certain issues, but she completely ignored their advice.

 

Her two sons William and Harry were often brought with her on these trips. This taught them a sense of humility and the joy of charity work. Even as an adult, Prince William still found joy in helping people, which is why he worked as an EMT helicopter pilot. Prince Harry also still passionately helps to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. After she passed away, her two sons continued to help with contributing to the many charities that Princess Diana once did.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Princess Diana loved stuffed peppers. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Princess Diana’s Favorite Meal Was Stuffed Bell Peppers

The royal chef Darren McGrady worked with Princess Diana for 4 years. In the beginning, he was shocked to see that she would casually walk around the kitchens, and rarely stuck to the royal menu. Early in the morning, she enjoyed watching the chefs cook her meals, because it helped her relax. One morning, she walked into the kitchen asking Darren for a cup of coffee, but then realized that he was already cooking. ‘‘Nevermind, I can see you’re busy. I’ll make it. Would you like one?” He was shocked, because a princess was making him- a servant- a cup of coffee. It was far more relaxed than his experience working at Kensington Palace.

After she conquered bulimia, Diana was determined to manage her weight in a healthy way. She switched over to a predominantly vegetarian diet. Occasionally, she enjoyed salmon, and only ate lamb if she was entertaining guests. Stuffed bell peppers were her dinner 4 days a week. Instead of beef and rice, the stuffing was made from chopped vegetables, spices, and rice. On the nights where she ate the same meal as her sons, she would request that the chef make her a healthier version of what the boys ate, but they never noticed the difference.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Michael Jackson and Diana were good friends. Credit: Biography

6. She Specifically Made Michael Jackson Play ‘Dirty Diana’ For Her

In 1988, Michael Jackson went on a world tour. He was going to remove “Dirty Diana” from his set list in London, out of respect for her. As a huge fan of his music, Diana wanted to meet Michael Jackson personally in a meet-and-greet before the concert. She had listened to his albums Thriller and Bad several times. When she heard that he wasn’t going to play the song, she asked him to put it back, because she actually loved it. At the very last minute, Michael Jackson had to add “Dirty Diana” back to the set list.

According to Biography, Diana and Michael Jackson formed a close friendship. They would often call one another on the phone at night to vent about the stresses of living in the public eye. At the time, they were both married with children. Michael Jackson would often wake up around 3AM to receive these late-night phone calls from Diana. They mutually felt close to one another, because they were some of the only people who could understand how terrible it was to be stalked by paparazzi and protect young children from the press.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Dr. Brian Weiss speaking with Oprah Winfrey. Credit: The Oprah Winfrey Show

5. Just Before Her Death, Princess Diana Was Reading A Book About Reincarnation

According to Dr. Brian Weiss in his book Messages From The Masters, he said that he received a phone call from Kensington Palace in 1997. Princess Diana had just finished reading one of his books, Only Love is Real: A Story of Soulmates Reunited. As the title suggests, this was all about reincarnation, and finding your soulmate in another lifetime. Dr. Weiss was excited that he received a phone call from the former princess, and quickly created a care package of his other books as well a CD of his guided past life regression hypnosis therapy called Regression in Times and Places.

 

After the phone call, Dr. Weiss agreed to give Diana a therapy session the next time he visited London. Tragically, Diana died just a few weeks later, and he never got the opportunity to meet her face-to-face. However, he speculated that Diana believed that Dodi Fayed was her soulmate, since they appeared to be so much in love. In his book, Dr. Weiss says that he hopes his message helped Diana in some way before her passing. Weiss has helped many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana’s funeral took place at Westminster Abbey. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Princess Diana’s Funeral at Westminster Abbey Broke Royal Protocol

Princess Diana’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. Technically, the protocol was that she should not have been able to have her funeral there, even though she was the princess for several years, and gave birth to future kings. Normally, Westminster Abbey is reserved for members of the royal family. At the time of her death, Diana had divorced Prince Charles, so she was no longer a member of the family. But Charles chose to break the rules in order to honor her with a funeral fit for a princess. For the first time in history, the Union Jack flag was flown at half-mast at Buckingham Palace. Her body was flown on a royal flight, and her coffin was draped in a Royal Standard flag.

 

However, many believe this was more of a publicity stunt to gain favor with the public, rather than something Charles did out of respect for his ex-wife and the mother of his children. The public loved Princess Diana, and they sided with her over the Queen. Also, with all of the conspiracy theories and rumors floating around that the royal family was to blame for her death, it would have made the royals look even worse if they banished her to a commoner’s funeral. At the end of the day, everyone seemed to agree that she deserved the beautiful funeral that was given to her.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
The hit single “Candle in the Wind”. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Elton John Sang “Candle in the Wind” in Memory of Princess Diana, But it was Originally About Marilyn Monroe

Some of you out there may have heard that Elton John wrote “Candle in the Wind” in honor of Princess Diana, since he sang it at her funeral in 1997. Well, that’s not quite right. Originally, the song was written for Marilyn Monroe, but he rewrote the same song to fit Princess Diana. The lyrics begin “Goodbye, England’s Rose,” instead of “Goodbye, Norma Jean.” This song became the largest selling single in 1997, and it played on the radio throughout the world, making the Marilyn Monroe version practically forgotten, unless you were a music nerd.

 

Princess Diana was actually friends with Elton John.The single sold 9 million copies. Instead of keeping the money, Elton John honored her memory by donating it all to the Dianna Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. During an interview with Oprah, Elton said that during the funeral, he had to stay professional and composed to get through the song. But when he got home and watched back the tape, he broke down in tears. He swore to never sing the Princess Diana version live again, because it’s far too painful.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
The Queen standing in the pile of flowers in front of the palace. Credit: Alamy

2. The Entire Country Mourned, and Created Public Tributes to Diana

When Princess Diana died in 1997, the whole world mourned. Even as a child in the United States, I still remember when she died. But of course, nowhere on Earth was in deeper mourning than the United Kingdom. There were huge public tributes to Princess Diana all throughout London. Thousands of bouquets of flowers lined up along the front lawn of Kensington Palace. The pile of flowers outside of Buckingham Palace was so huge, it was 5 feet deep. Throughout London, there were other small shrines set up in her memory.

Prince Harry, who was 12 at the time, talked about what that was like in a documentary called Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, which is available on HBO. “It was very, very strange after her death, the sort of outpouring of love and emotion from so many people that had never even met her.”Today, people still leave flowers at the gates of Buckingham and Kensington Palace on the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, even though over 23 years have passed.

Little Known Facts About Diana, Princess of Wales
Kensington Palace. Credit: Shutterstock

1. There Will Be a Princess Diana Statue at Kensington Palace

After Princess Diana’s death, her sons Prince William and Harry took over the Princess Diana Memorial Foundation in Hyde Park. If you have ever visited England, you already know that there are statues of kings and queens in public parks and in front of palaces throughout the country. Since Diana was no longer a princess when she died, one was never made of her. William and Harry began planning the commission for the statue back in 2017, on the 20-year anniversary of her death.

The statue is currently scheduled to be erected on On July 1, 2021, where it will be placed in front of Kensington Palace. There is already a grand statue of Queen Victoria standing in front of the palace, since it was her former home. Now, finally, Diana can also be memorialized in the same way. During a press release, the princes said, “Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy.” Just like her funeral in Westminster Abbey, this surely goes against royal protocol. But the Queen has reportedly said that she fully supports this endeavor.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Facts About Princess Diana We Just Learned That Made Us Say “Really?”. Ranker. Mallory Weiler. 2020.

Princess Diana: Her Life and Mysterious Death. Biographics. Simon Whistler & Shannon Quinn. 2018

Many Lives, Many Masters. Dr. Brain Weiss. 1988

The Crown Season 4 Facts and Fiction: What it Gets Right and Wrong About Princess Diana. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.

Candle In The Wind: Elton John’s Tribute To Marilyn Monroe And Princess Di. Groovy History. 2020

Elton John Opens Up About Coping with Princess Diana’s Death. The Oprah Winfrey Show. 1997

Former Royal Chef Reveals Princess Diana’s Fave Meal And What It Was Really Like Cooking For Her. Delish. 2020

Why the Princess Diana Engagement Ring Was Controversial. Brides Magazine. Christina Oehler. 2020

Princess Diana statue to be installed to mark her 60th birthday. BBC. 2020

Inside Michael Jackson’s Close Friendship With Princess Diana. Biography. 2019.

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