Princess Diana was known for putting her own spin on the strict palace rules during her time as the Princess of Wales. Here are 13 ways to how she broke Royal traditions and tried something new.
1. Her engagement ring
Royal engagement rings are usually always custom designed for the couple. However, Diana chose her own engagement ring from the Garrard jewelry collection catalog when she got engaged at the age of 19.
That ring is now owned and worn by Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Meghan Markle’s engagement ring was designed by Prince Harry himself with the help of Cleave and Company. It featured two diamonds from Princess Diana’s collection.
2. Her vows
Lady Diana was the first to break with tradition and write her own vows. In them, she opted out of saying she would ‘obey’ Prince Charles. The new tradition was then followed by Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and recently by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at their wedding ceremony on May 19.
3. Her parenting style
The young mother was hands-on and close to her children from the very beginning, something that was new in the Royal tradition. She breastfed both her sons and chose their names herself. Her parenting style was a complete break from what was common in royal households.
4. Her work
Before marrying Prince Charles, Diana worked as a nursery school teacher. This made her the first ever woman who had a paying job before getting married into the Royal family. She gave that up and instead maintained her official duties after her marriage to the Prince. Beyond that, she kept parenting above other commitments and chose to spend as much time with her kids as possible.
5. Prince William and Harry’s schooling
In the Royal tradition, heirs to the throne don’t attend public school. Prince William became the first one to do so at his mother’s insistence. She thought her kids should have as normal a life as possible, and a regular schooling experience was part of that.
6. Prince William and Harry’s recreation
In the attempt to have her kids live a normal life, she exposed them to many non-royal activities. She took them to McDonald’s to get hamburgers, had them wear jeans and baseball caps, and even stood in line at Disney like everyone else.
This way, she rebelled against what was common for Royal children. She also took them to hospitals and homeless shelters to make sure they understood the world outside Royal grounds.
7. Her fashion
In 1985, Princess Diana wore an emerald and diamond choker as a tiara for an appearance in Melbourne, Australia. This is just one of the many examples of how the Princess made bold fashion statements that had her stand out from the usual way of dressing in royal households.
8. Her interaction with the press
The Princess of Wales often tried to take some control of her media image, and not just let it be dictated by the paparazzi. In 1995, she gave a revealing interview to Martin Bashir about the struggles of her marriage and life in the Royal household. The interview was watched by more than 21.5 million people in the UK.
9. How she talked about the struggles of marriage
She spoke frankly about her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles during their marriage, and went into depth about how troubling that was for her. “There were three people in the marriage,” she once said publicly. The candid explanations about trouble in a royal marriage were unheard of at the time and, to some extent, still are.
10. The subjects she chose to talk about
She was the first Royal to speak up about mental health issues and eating disorders. During her 1995 interview, she spoke to Martin Bashir about her struggles with bulimia, which arose out of the stress she felt because of her crumbling marriage and media attention. Her children have since then taken care to publicly support mental health institutions and promote mental health awareness.
11. Her public single life
After her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana openly enjoyed the single life and her romances with other men, which was a clear overthrow of tradition. She did not feel the need to disappear after having been cut off from the Royal Family.
12. Her informality
Whether it was her fashion, her interactions with people or her addresses to the press and public, Princess Diana always chose a candid tone over a formal one. For example, she would always talk to children by crouching down at eye level. Her style has since then been followed by Kate Middleton.
13. Her hands-on approach
Diana was known for her compassion and her address of taboo topics. She once walked across a minefield in Angola to spread awareness about land mines. She also shook hands with and visited HIV positive patients in Brazil to highlight that they do not need to be quarantined without human touch.