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Princess Diana Facts

The Most Fascinating Facts About Princess Diana's Life

Image Source: Getty / Anwar Hussein

Princess Diana led a remarkable life even before becoming royalty, and her legacy continues to live on in the over 20 years after her untimely death. While her charity work and her bravery to stand up to the royal family have made her an icon over the years, there are still a few things you may not know about the mother of Prince Harry and Prince William. Like how she originally wanted to be a ballerina. Or that her iconic 12-carat sapphire engagement ring doesn't follow royal custom. Keep scrolling for more interesting facts about the late Princess Diana here.

  1. Her grandmother was a lady in waiting. Her maternal grandmother, Ruth Roche, was a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The two were close friends and many assumed that they encouraged the marriage of their grandchildren. Diana was reportedly not on speaking terms with Ruth when she died in 1993.
  2. She wanted to be a ballerina. Even though she did not excel in academics (she failed her O-levels twice), she was a talented athlete. Aside from swimming and diving, she studied ballet, but her height made her too tall to become a professional.
  3. She went to school with Tilda Swinton. The two attended the boarding school West Heath together.
  4. She was a kindergarten teacher. After leaving school, Diana began working with children and eventually became a kindergarten teacher at the Young England School. She was the first royal bride to have a paying job before her engagement.
  5. Her sister dated Prince Charles first. I guess you could say the two met through a mutual friend. Diana first met Charles in 1977 while he was dating her older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. It wasn't until the Summer of 1980 that Charles, who had already called it quits with Sarah, really became interested in Diana.
  6. Her engagement ring doesn't follow royal custom. Diana's sapphire ring (which now belongs to Kate Middleton) is an iconic piece of jewellery, but at the time, it was somewhat ordinary. While royal engagement rings are usually custom made, Diana selected hers from the Garrard Jewellers catalogue.

Image Source: Getty / Bettmann

  1. Her wedding dress had the longest train in royal history. Her Emanuel dress, which reportedly cost $115,000, included a 7.6-metre-long train.
  2. She left out a royal tradition in her wedding vows. Diana was the first royal bride to omit that she would "obey" her husband in her vows. Kate and William followed suit when they got married in 2011.
  3. She had an affair with her son's horseback riding teacher. While Charles had an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, there was a fourth person involved in his and Diana's love square: James Hewitt. He was initially hired to teach Diana, William, and Harry horseback riding before the two engaged in an affair back in the late '80s.
  4. She lost her royal title after the divorce. After divorcing Prince Charles, Diana lost the title of her royal highness. While Queen Elizabeth II reportedly wanted her to keep it, Charles was "adamant" that she give it up. She was given the new title of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Image Source: Getty / Tom Wargacki

  1. She was only 36 when she died. After a tragic car crash in Paris, Diana underwent surgery before doctors discovered massive internal injuries, including a large tear in her superior pulmonary vein where it enters the heart. She was pronounced dead less than two hours after arriving at the hospital.
  2. 2.5 billion people tuned in to watch her funeral. Diana's funeral was originally intended to be a private affair attended only by members of the royal family and her closest relatives and friends, but after an outpouring of love and grief from the public, Queen Elizabeth II agreed to have a public funeral. An estimated 2.5 billion people viewed or listened worldwide.
  3. She is buried on an island.
    She was laid to rest on a small island in the middle of a lake at Althorp, her family's estate. The island is accessed by a path of 36 trees — one for every year of her life.
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