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36 facts about Diana, Princess of Wales


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Today marks the 23rd anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’s tragic death in a car crash in Paris. Diana was an influential figure the world over and brought light to some of the most controversial subjects, from AIDS/HIV to landmines and homelessness. Unfortunately, she only lived to the age of 36, so here is a fact to mark each year of Diana’s short life.

  • As a member of the Spencer family, she spent part of her childhood at their family home of Althorp House in Northamptonshire.

  • She was born at Park House, Sandringham, close to the main royal residence.
  • Parallels have been frequently drawn between her life and that of her distant relative, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Both were daughters of an Earl Spencer and both experienced controversy and unhappiness in their married lives. In the 2008 film, The Duchess with Keira Knightley, the tagline ‘There were three in the marriage’ was used- clearly a reference to the quote from the Princess’s interview with Martin Bashir from 1995.
  • Her future husband, the Prince of Wales, was previously in a relationship with her elder sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
  • In her autobiography, actress Cleo Rocos wrote of a night when Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury, disguised Diana in drag and snuck her into a London gay bar.
  • Diana knew that her unhappy parents wanted a son, instead of another daughter, when she was born.
  • Her parents divorced when she was seven-years-old.
  • Her grandmother was a lady-in-waiting and friend to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
  • She was childhood friends with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, her future brothers-in-law, as they were close in age.
  • Diana originally wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up but was 5’10” and told she was too tall.
  •  As the Princess of Wales, she appeared in a surprise performance at the Royal Opera House with Wayne Sleep, dancing to Billy Joel’s song ‘Uptown Girl’.
  • The dress she wore to dance with John Travolta at the White House sold for £264,000 at an auction.
  • She failed her O-Levels twice and dropped out of school at the age of 16.
  • Diana worked as a kindergarten teacher in London during her courtship with Prince Charles before their engagement was announced.
  • Diana moved into Clarence House, the London home of the Queen Mother, following the announcement of her engagement.
  • Her wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel.
  • Diana made a mistake in her vows and mixed up the order of her new husband’s name. Instead of saying that she would take Charles Philip Arthur George as her wedded husband, she said that she’d take ‘Philip Charles Arthur George’.
  • She broke decades of royal tradition by taking her young son, Prince William, on a tour of Australiain 1983, rather than leaving him at home for months with nannies.  
  • Traditionally direct heirs to the throne are born at home, however, Prince William was born in the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London. His cousins, Peter and Zara, were also born in the hospital before William, but he was the first future monarch to be born in a public hospital.
  • Catherine Walker was a favourite designer of Diana, Princess of Wales.
  • Diana is perhaps most remembered for her work in reducing the stigma around HIV and AIDS. She famously went to a hospital and shook hands with an AIDS sufferer, without wearing gloves.
  • Once, when media scrutiny was at an all-time high, Diana, Princess of Wales took her two sons and stayed at a ranch owned by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in Colorado.
  • Diana was friends with lots of celebrities, including Elton John, Michael Jackson, Liza Minelli and George Michael.
  •  She and the Prince of Wales separated in 1992 and officially divorced in 1996.
  • She affectionately referred to her son William as ‘Wombat’, following their tour of Australia in 1983.  
  • She loved teasing her sons and, having seen Prince William’s posters in his bedroom, invited supermodels, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington to the palace when he returned from school on his 13th birthday.
  • Diana used to wear a long brown wig in public as a disguise from the press.
  • Diana, Princess of Wales’s favourite band was Duran Duran.
  • She is a descendant of King Charles II and was a relation of Winston Churchill as well as US Presidents George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
  • Her engagement ring is also the engagement ring of the Duchess of Cambridge.
  • Diana admitted to biographer Andrew Morton that she attempted suicide several times, including when she was four-months pregnant with Prince William. The Princess explained how she threw herself down the stairs to get her husband’s attention as he was still infatuated with Camilla Parker-Bowles. She says how she was found by The Queen, who was “absolutely horrified, shaking — she was so frightened.”
  • After her death, Prime Minister Tony Blair first used the phrase ‘The People’s Princess’ to describe her.
  • Diana supported over 100 charities, including organisations working to remove landmines in Africa. After her death, this campaign won a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • She has four grandchildren: Prince George Alexander Louis, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, Prince Louis Arthur Charles and Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
  • When Camilla Parker-Bowles married the Prince of Wales in 2005, she became the Princess of Wales but decided not to use the title out of the public association and respect for Diana.
  • She is buried on an island on the Spencer family estate of Althorp.