She Was One With The People
When it came to bringing awareness to important causes, Diana certainly wasn’t afraid to lead by example. In rare events for British royalty, the People's Princess performed small but powerful actions that sent meaningful messages through the media. Whether it was shaking hands with an HIV-positive patient, visiting a Brazilian AIDS orphanage or walking across a partially-cleared minefield, the Princess of Wales went the distance for causes close to her heart.
Today, Prince Harry is following in his mother’s footsteps with his own initiatives. He recently underwent a live HIV test, leading to a surge in HIV testing across the United Kingdom.
The Kids Attended Public School
Princess Diana insisted Prince William attend public school, making him the very first heir to the throne to learn among “commoners.”
She Handpicked Her Engagement Ring… From A Catalogue
Though Royal engagement rings are typically custom-made, a then 19-year-old Diana selected her 12-carat sapphire ring from the Garrard jewelry collection catalogue. The ring was famously passed down to Prince William, who proposed to Kate Middleton with the stunner.
The Boys Took Part In Common Activities
It was important for Diana to show her children how people lived outside of Palace walls. This modern philosophy prompted many trips on public transportation, visits to department stores such as Marks and Spencer and lunches at McDonald's.
She Did Away With Formality
As a strict departure from Palace protocol, Diana made a point to speak with people at eye-level. "If someone might be nervous of you or you're speaking to a very young child or a sick person, get yourself on their level," she said. As the first member of the Royal family to do this, she connected with far more people - from all walks of life - and the press quickly dubbed her "The People's Princess."
She Talked Openly About Her Personal Struggles
Princess Diana also spoke openly about her struggle with bulimia, which she said was the result of an unloving and stressful marriage. "That's 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," she told Martin Bashir. "It's a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself."
She Used Her Clothes To Communicate
Though she received much praise from fashion critics for her vibrant style, Princess Diana’s colourful wardrobe was a deliberate attempt by the Royal to appear more approachable.
She Aired Her Dirty Royal Laundry
Much to the dismay of the Queen, Princess Diana aired the messy details of her marriage while sitting down with the BBC's Martin Bashir in 1995. In her first solo interview, Princess Diana addressed Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, and also got candid about her own affair with James Hewitt. "Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with [Hewitt]. But I was very let down,” she told Bashir.
Her public struggle with mental illness has since inspired the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry to devote much of their time to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.
Her Hands-On Parenting Style
While most affluent British parents leave the parenting up to their nannies and caretakers, Princess Diana took an intimate approach to motherhood. Diana often brought Prince Harry and Prince William along with her on Royal Tours, an approach that differed greatly from the Queen's parenting philosophy.
She Wrote Her Own Vows
When the day came to say “I Do” to Prince Charles, Diana did away with Royal tradition and penned her own vows. Thirty years later, Prince William and Kate Middleton followed in her footsteps, writing their own vows for their 2011 wedding.