These days, Harry and Meghan dominate the headlines as modern royals. The tabloids can't enough of the drama, and the public loves to peek. But who really started the fascination with this family, back in the '80s? It was Diana, Princess of Wales. The world still misses the first wife of Prince Charles, who often stole the show. As we look back on the anniversary of her passing, it's time to reflect on the real Lady Di. She was the most photographed woman on planet earth long before social media ever existed. Check out these recently uncovered gems that will undoubtedly surprise you, next!
Despite Being Called A Outsider, She Was A Bit Of A Royal Insider
Born Diana Frances Spencer in 1961, the future princess was the fourth child in a family of five. She actually had noble roots, as some may not be aware. For many generations, her family had ties to the royals. Titles in her clan included Viscount, Viscountess, Countess, and Baroness. Fancy, fancy!
From a young age, she was around the monarchy herself: Playmates included Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Truthfully, her family had been hoping for a son of their own to continue the family name. Little did they know that this baby girl would take them farther up the British social ladder than anyone before.
Diana's Childhood Was Marked By Divorce, Like Many Of Us
At age seven, her parents divorced. This meant that a young Diana would be splitting her time between different homes. A common story these days, but less so back then. Here, Diana is pictured during summer vacation at age 10, just a few years into the new adjustment.
Although she initially lived with her mother in London, her father eventually won custody. This put Diana in an uncomfortable position with a new stepmother, one she described as a bully. Although she experienced a wealthy upbringing, it wasn't joyous. Years later, during her own tumultuous marriage, this story would become relevant again.
She Officially Became Lady Diana Spencer At The Tender Age Of Thirteen
When Diana turned thirteen, she gained an aristocratic title. In 1975, her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer and moved the family to the Spencer estate in Northamptonshire. During this time, she saw her mother in London for part of the year.
During the summers, Scotland was a repeat destination for the Spencers. Here, a young Di is pictured with a Shetland pony at her mother's Scotland home. He was named Souffle, just like the popular dessert. Why the silly name? He was fluffy, obviously.
Diana Was Sent Off To Boarding School in England and Switzerland
While she was a wee youngster, a governess was tasked with her early education. Many posh families followed that model. As she got into her teen years, though, it was time for a more formal program. Where did she end up?
Diana was sent to a few boarding schools, including Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School, West Heath, and the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Switzerland. As a teen, she got a school award for helping classmates and being an all-around darling. What were her academic interests, though?
Diana Did Odd Jobs By Choice No One Would Expect
After Diana was done with school in Europe, she moved to London to be an independent young person. She moved into a flat with other young ladies her age and did something many might find funny for a rich girl. She worked as a cleaner and a nanny!
Apparently, it was a badge of honor in her circles to show that they had money through their own work. Perhaps that has gone out of fashion since then. But the future "people's princess" did get valuable experience before she started dating Charles at age 18.
The Prince Was Intrigued And Began Calling Her At Home
Prince Charles met Diana at an athletic event and began calling soon after. Whenever he would ring, her London flatmates would be giddy. And soon, he began taking her on trips. Here, Charles and Diana are pictured at his family's Scotland estate: Balmoral Castle.
Here, Diana is pictured in an iconic outfit: A colorful sweater, khakis, and classic Hunter boots with tall red socks. She looks cozy on her date with the Prince, to be sure. And British ladies agreed because sales of the boot model skyrocketed after pictures were released. Who wouldn't want to dress like the girlfriend of Charles?
Diana Meets The Aggressive British Press
It might sound odd to modern people, but Diana and Charles had just thirteen dates before they got engaged. They had a twelve-year age difference, too. But there was no way a young girl wouldn't at least consider marrying a prince. As things got serious, the press started to stalk.
Here, a shocked Diana is pictured after paparazzi swoop in on her vehicle. We may all expect this treatment now for celebrities, but this was a more innocent time. She would eventually get the nickname "Shy Di" because of her hesitance to deal with the cameras.
As Everyone Knows, Prince Charles Proposed and Diana Accepted
Just after Diana's 20th birthday, the prince popped the big question. What followed was a media frenzy and many public appearances. Here, Diana and Charles visited an English country house called Broadlands. Fellow guests were delighted to see the young fiance in person.
Soon, she was on the cover of magazines at every grocery store. It must have been a real whirlwind, but Diana handled it in stride. At least publically, that is. Privately, drama was already brewing. And Di had her suspicions about another woman, even early on.
There Was Another Woman Back Then, And Diana Was Suspicious
The truth is, Charles still had feelings for an old girlfriend, who is his wife in current day: Camilla Parker Bowles. But she had married another man at the time, and Charles needed to move on. His father urged him to marry Diana or let her go. Charles decided to take the plunge. But deep down, Diana knew something was going on.
In an interview, Charles didn't even seem excited to be engaged. Diana recalled: "We had this ghastly interview the day we announced our engagement. And this ridiculous [reporter] said, 'Are you in love?' I thought, 'What a thick question.' So I said, 'Yes, of course, we are,' and Charles turned around and said, 'Whatever love means.' And that threw me completely. I thought, 'What a strange answer.' It traumatized me."
Princess Diana Was Married With A Baby By Age Twenty-One
Despite the bad vibes, the wedding went forward. In 1981, Prince Charles and Diana had a lavish, televised ceremony. Around 750 million people all over the globe watched them tie the knot. Now with the title of Princess, Diana became a worldwide celebrity that day — as she would remain the rest of her life.
A year later, Prince William was born. Diana was actually the first royal in history to give birth at a hospital. She was a modern woman, in this regard. Harry would soon follow, and she had her hands full. Her career as a mother and princess had quickly begun. Just a few years ago, she was in high school!
Diana Wasn't Afraid Of To Try New Things
As a princess, Diana went on all sorts of adventures in the UK. In her official capacity, she once visited a nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy. Here, she boarded the vessel without her husband. How did the crew feel about it?
A military spokesman joked at the time: "There is an old superstition, dating to the time of Admiral Nelson, which says the presence of a woman aboard warships brings bad luck. This presumably dates to the time when officers took their mistresses to sea with them. This at times apparently distracted them from doing their duty. But Diana ignored this, and obviously had a pleasant experience."
Diana Loved To Meet The British Public Wherever They Were
Some might think a princess would stay in a castle somewhere, most of the time. But not Princess Di! Here, she is pictured presenting a prize to the winners of a contest to a team of lifeguards at a surf carnival. As the Brits say, they were all quite fit. Did she notice?
No one can say for sure. Diana obviously loved to attend events and stay up to date with the culture. She explained: “It’s vital that the monarchy keeps in touch with the people. It’s what I try and do.”
She Really Charmed New Zealand With Her Warmth and Authenticity
As a princess, her duty was to represent the crown abroad. She went on plenty of trips with Charles, over the years. And wherever she went, he charmed the foreign press. Here, she was snapped during an event in New Zealand. What is she doing?
Why, it's a traditional Maori greeting! The Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, and Diana made sure to acknowledge them in the most personal way, by rubbing noses with people in the crowd. A new chapter for royal etiquette!
The World Called Diana A Style icon For Good Reason
Even today, fashion magazines highlight Diana's best outfits from time to time. From couture to street fashion, she just did it soo well. Look at this ensemble, for example. Somehow, she made a baseball hat with boots and a blazer look chic.
For her efforts in the closet, Diana was nominated for the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. Time magazine put her on its list of "All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons". And designers use her as inspiration for their collections, even after her passing. Quite a legacy, but that's true for Diana in many areas.
She Brought Attention To Dangerous Landmines By Walking Through Them
During her travels through the former empire, Diana discovered a lot of things about the world. Some of them disturbed her, undoubtedly. When she visited Angola, she found out how often landmines were used in conflict. From then on, she campaigned against them.
Diana walked through a cleared path of the bombs in front of cameras, as seen here. She met with survivors that were missing limbs. And because of her efforts, the public knew much more about the issue. After her death, the United Nations passed a Mine Ban Treaty to stop the production, use, and sale of landmines.
No Matter What She Was Doing, Her Boys Were Priority Number One
Even though she had a full royal schedule, there was always room for Harry and William in her day. In fact, she wrote their activities in green on her calendar, even the smallest of things, so she could align her day with theirs.
The boys did have nannies some of the time, but Diana didn't want to miss out on their childhood. She loved playing with them and taking them on fun outings around the UK. Her own time as a nanny turned out to be great practice!
She Was Never Obsessed With Horses Like the Rest of the Family
Even though she had a pony of her own growing up, Diana really never got into riding in a serious way. The royal family she married into was very keen on the sport, though. Rumor has it that the queen was disappointed Diana wouldn't share her hobby!
But the princess did make sure that William and Harry got their proper training from an early age. Here, she is pictured guiding toddler Will on a tiny pony. William and Kate give their own little ones similar lessons, today. The tradition trots forward, even if it skipped over Diana.
Princess Diana Had Fancy Military Titles As Part Of Her Role
Many would think the title of princess would be enough. But becoming a royal comes with a lot of other roles, it seems, if only informal ones. When Diana married Charles, she became a military woman. How so?
Here, Diana is seen chatting with a camouflaged soldier of the Royal Hampshire Regiment. She visited bases from time to time, as the Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Wittering and the Colonel-in-Chief of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. She was always a welcome guest, to be sure.
She Formed an Instant Bond With Mother Teresa on a Trip to India
Princess Diana was known as a humanitarian throughout her royal career. But where did she get so inspired to focus on the poor? Maybe it had something to do with her unlikely friendship with Mother Teresa. Apparently, they kept in touch.
Mother Teresa was a nun who ran a hospice in India, and Diana found her to be very inspiring. She told close friends that she had a spiritual awakening after meeting the missionary. Mother Teresa spoke out when the princess passed: “Diana was extremely sympathetic to poor people — and very lively, and homely, too. All the sisters and I are praying for her and for all members of her family."
She Was Never Afraid to Let Her Hair Down With Her Kids
Being in royal halls may sound stuffy to some, and truthfully, Diana did find it suffocating at times. So many rules and so many protocols really got in the way of self-expression. At times, this caused tension behind closed doors. Diana explained “I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.”
Maybe she got to be herself a bit more with her sons. Here, she was photographed with Harry and William in a floating log boat at Thorpe Park in 1993. It might seem unusual to spot a member of the royal family doing this sort of thing. But Diana wanted her kids to enjoy childhood, at least a little!
The Family Loved To Go Away on Ski Holidays in Europe
Princess Diana and Prince Charles regularly hit the slopes with William and Harry when they were growing up. The entire family loved to ski, and they often went to one special place: Klosters. It's no ordinary ski getaway, that's for sure.
At Klosters, royals from across the UK enjoy five-star rooms with concierge service. They dine at Michelin-star restaurants on site. And they hope to do this without the glare of cameras, following them everywhere they go. During a trip in 1991, Diana personally begged the paparazzi to leave. She wanted the kids to have some privacy on vacation!
Princess Diana Took a Public Trip Shopping at the Grocery Store
Sometimes, Diana made stops in the unlikeliest of places. The people's princess lived up to her reputation when she visited this Tesco grocery store in 1990. Here, she is pictured pushing around a shopping cart. What was she doing there, in that fancy pink suit?
Staff and shoppers alike were delighted when she came in to say hi and peruse the aisles. As it turns out, she was hoping to share advice about healthy eating. A charming initiative, for the time. Beans on toast weren't at the top of the list!
The Princess Drove a Regular Ford Escort, Believe It or Not
When the public imagines royal cars, they probably of Aston Martin or Rolls Royce. At least a Mercedes, right? Well, people of Diana's time remember that she drove something different entirely. Check out this snappy Ford Escort!
Charles gave this modern American vehicle to Di as an engagement gift, and she actually drove it around. Here, very young British citizens wave to the princess as she leaves St. Mary's Primary School with her bodyguard in the passenger seat. Decades after her death, it was privately auctioned off for more than £52,000.
Her First Overseas Tour Was the Land Down Under in 1983
The first official couples tour that Diana and Charles took was to Australia, one of many. They brought baby Will on a 40-day trip that included New Zealand and met with designations and regular Aussies alike. Here, Diana is pictured meeting schoolchildren in Alice Springs.
The tour was considered a big success by the royals, the locals, and the media. But one person wasn't so happy. Charles was reportedly jealous that his 22-year-old wife upstaged him, the prince. This was just the beginning of the public's preference for the princess, as Charles would soon see.
All You Need Is Love Was a Big Philosophy for Diana
In the end, Charles and Diana's marriage didn't work out. Like all divorces, the troubles were complicated and private. But Diana continued using the title "Princess of Wales" and carried out royal duties. Her commitment to improving the world didn't change, just because her marriage ended. She loved to visit people who were often ignored, in her country and abroad.
Diana shared: "I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give. I am very happy to do that, I want to do that."
She Never Saw Herself Actually Becoming Queen of England
Truthfully, Diana never thought she would really become Queen. Maybe it was designated for the future, but it just seemed so far away, and that wasn't her focus. After the divorce, it definitely wasn't going to happen. How did she see herself, then?
Diana explained: “I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts, but I don’t see myself being queen of this country.” That seems to be exactly the role she ended up in, and the public still loved her for it. They do, in fact, to this day!
According to Di, the Royal Rules Were Made to Be Broken
Behind the scenes, Diana wasn't so cozy with all the royals. Perhaps they didn't understand why she didn't wear gloves when shaking hands with crowds, or the hand of an AIDS patient. She was very open in her approach to the public, which was nontraditional, to say the least.
Diana shared: "I do things differently because I don't go by a rule book, [and] because I lead from the heart, not the head...Albeit that's got me into trouble in my work, I understand that. But someone's got to go out there and love people and show it."
The Press Obsession Made Her Uncomfortable and Anxious All The Time
Diana was disturbed by the media's focus on her, 24/7. She explained: "It took a long time to understand why people were so interested in me...during the years you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you.”
She secretly developed an eating disorder during her time in the palace, unbeknownst to the public. The royal family didn't understand bulimia, perhaps, as much as we do today. It was a tough time for Di: Sometimes, it's hard to know what's really behind a smile.
Even Charles Had to Admit She Was a Charming Girl From the Beginning
Although they had their problems, Charles was always insistent that Diana had great qualities from the beginning,. He shared: "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."
Maybe he saw her as a good potential mother. Fun-loving and warm is a great asset for kids, isn't it? Here Diana allows herself to be buried alive in the sand during an island vacation. Not every princess would consent!
Polo Was a Constant Theme in the Royal Circle
Looking back, there were good times between Diana and Charles. Many of them happened to take place at polo matches around the UK. It was a big part of their early dating and remained a pastime throughout their marriage. Even their sons got involved, with due time.
Diana was always there to support her man, dressed impeccably in the stands. Here, she congratulates her husband with a trophy, during the good times. Observers may notice something interesting: Diana and Charles were uncommonly the exact same height. 5ft 8.
The Big Taj Mahal Visit Turned Out to Be Lonely For Diana
Diana always had a secret fascination with India. In London, she was a customer of Indian designer Ritu Kumar. Diana would ask him to close off part of the store while she browsed and perhaps imagined herself back in the east. But it turns out she had a secret connection there, all along.
After her death, the public would learn that Diana's family had ties to India. How? Her great-great-grandfather had worked for the East India Company and had a child there who came back to England. It was all ancient history, and she likely never knew about it. But today, Indians remember Diana in a whole new way!
Diana and Charles Met Pope John Paul II in 1985
One of many trips abroad included The Vatican, in 1985. Here, Diana is pictured with Charles meeting the pope himself. It might seem like an ordinary visit for heads of stateת but actually, England has an interesting history with the church.
The Church of England was established as a rebellion by a British monarch, long ago. He wanted to divorce his wife, and have more personal freedom. These days, Catholics do get divorced, and modern Brits arent that devoted to their national church. But when the couple wanted to attend Mass on the trip they were still banned by Buckingham Palace!
Diana Never Ran Out of Laughs and Hugs for Her Boys
It's not a subject the royals speak about often anymore: We're all sad that Diana has left this world. The public misses her charm and grace, but surely her sons miss her the most. Prince Harry recently revealed just what made her so special as a mom.
He recalls: "She would just engulf you and squeeze you as tight as possible and being as short as I was then, there was no escape, you were there for as long as she wanted to hold you...Behind closed doors, she was a very loving, caring mother and an incredibly funny person. I think she lived a lot of her life, especially in private, through us and I think that childish fun element really came out when she was spending time with us."
Helping the Needy Was a Calling for Diana All Over the World
Diana once exclaimed: "Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life - a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are."
Here, the princess is pictured in India in 1992. She visited Lallapet High School and Mianpur Old Age Welfare Centre in Hyderabad, and she was greeted by traditional dancers. Here, she sits for a moment with a schoolgirl during her colorful visit.
She Was Snapped Curtseying to King Juan Carlos of Spain
Spain and England actually have a famous history together, competing for treasure in the new world. England ended up colonizing America when they found lots of lumber to build ships. Spain took over the Caribbean for sugar, and began searching for gold on the continent. Has the rivalry ended, yet?
If this photo of Diana doing a curtsey in front of the king of Spain during her day says anything, then yes. In 1987, she visited his country with Charles. Fun fact: They're all family! Many, many, generations ago, there were a few aristocratic marriages that tied them together.
Princess Diana Was a Little Too Focused on Diet and Exercise
Princess Diana was known to be a big fitness fan during her day. Here, she is spotted leaving the Chelsea Harbour Club in London. The posh city compound offered tennis, swimming, spa treatments, class, and more. And there was a restaurant, just for members.
In interviews, Diana revealed her exercise regimen. She had at least three 30-minute workouts a week, and started her morning with a swim when she had the time. As a busy mom, it wasn't always possible. She literally runs to her car after the gym to meet her obligations here. What parent can't relate?
Diana Wore Menswear Sometimes, Which Had to Be a Royal First
Diana had an official wardrobe for royal duties as a princess. But she also had a private collection, to be sure. Sometimes, she was spotted in polka dots and florals. On ski trips, she made vibrant winter fashion front-page news. But sometimes, she was entirely experimental.
The princess was sometimes spotted in men's suits, for some reason. Yes, the '80s involved the female power suit with heavy shoulder pads. But Diana went a step further: Take a look at this number she wore as she made visits around town. Queen Victoria and Mary, Queen of Scots would have been aghast, surely.
Diana Was Never Too Shy to Try Out a New Sport at the Club
No matter what she was wearing, she wasn't afraid to get involved with a little fun. Here, Diana made a visit to the Glasgow Centre For Deaf in 1991. The crowd was enjoying a little lawn bowling, and she decided to join in. Why not?
Princess Di was actually a student of British Sign Language. She occasionally presented it to the public, and people thought her signing seemed natural. She joined the British Deaf Association as its patron during her lifetime, still lovingly remembered by members. As we can see, it was one of many causes close to her heart!