Princess Diana stole the hearts of just about everyone when she came into the public eye after marrying Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. Even if you weren’t alive then or just weren’t one of the 750 million people who watched her take her vows, chances are, you’ve seen the images of her walking down the aisle in her 25-foot long silk train, which, by the way, is the longest in royal history.
Although the former Diana Spencer was in the public eye, not everything about her was public knowledge. Here, we’ve rounded up a few fascinating facts about the princess that you probably don’t know.
Princess Diana wasn’t always the seemingly perfect icon she eventually became. Her formative years revealed a child and teenager who made the same mistakes and struggled with the same problems that those who don’t have nobility in their blood do.
It is these traits that contributed to her nickname “The People’s Princess,” as she seemed more attainable and down-to-earth than your average royal.
Her grandmother was a lady-in-waiting and she is related to George Washington.
Diana’s grandmother, Ruth Fermoy, was a lady-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who is also Prince Charles’ grandmother. The two were friends, but never encouraged Charles and Diana to become married. In fact, Yahoo reports that Diana and her grandmother weren’t on speaking terms when Fermoy passed away in 1993.
Diana is also a distant relative of the first president of the United States, George Washington. She was also related to eight former U.S. presidents.
She lived with her father.
Diana and her siblings, Jane, Sarah, and Charles, lived with their father after he and her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, divorced in 1969.
Her father secretly married Raine, the Countess of Darthmouth in 1976. Diana and her brother and sisters did not like their new stepmother, says Woman’s World magazine.
She wasn’t an exceptional student.
Until the age of 9, Lady Di was taught by a tutor. She was then sent to exclusive boarding school West Heath School after turning 12, but left four years later because of two failed exams.
According to Hello Magazine, the princess often joked to others about her poor academic history.
She wanted to be a ballerina.
Although Diana may not have been a star student, she did excel at athletics. The future princess studied swimming and diving, but according to Good Housekeeping magazine, her biggest passion was ballet.
She wanted to become a professional ballerina, but her tall height made her dream just that: a dream. Diana was a fan of English National Ballet, whom she supported until her untimely death, says Vanity Fair.
She was a kindergarten teacher.
The Princess tried her hand at a few different positions after finishing her studies. She worked as a part-time cleaning woman and babysitter before becoming a kindergarten teacher at the Young England School.
Prince Charles initially dated her sister.
According to an article from Good Housekeeping, Diana’s sister Lady Sarah Spencer was a love interest of the Prince’s before he met his bride-to-be. The future husband and wife met at a family function when Diana was 16. She eventually became engaged to him at age 19 and married at 20.
The future husband and wife met at a family function when Diana was 16. She eventually became engaged to him at age 19 and married at 20.
As a Royal
She had the world at her fingertips but didn’t accept her royal position with open arms. Throughout her marriage, Princess Di made choices that had her royal in-laws, and the world, scratching their heads. However, her humility is part of what made the public embrace her.
Her engagement ring was considered ordinary.
Although it’s a proper rock by just about anyone’s standards, Princess Diana’s personally selected engagement ring wasn’t turning many royal heads. Rather, it was considered plain.
Instead of ordering a custom-made ring like most other members of the Royal Family do, the “People’s Princess” found hers in a catalog.
She didn’t follow customary wedding vows.
This princess did not want to be told what to do. Unlike other royal brides, Diana refused to say the vow that she would “obey” her husband, during her wedding to Prince Charles, says The New York Times. Instead, the vow was simply left out of the nuptials.
According to the Daily Mail, her son William and his bride, Kate Middleton, skipped the obey vow during their wedding ceremony as well.
She had an affair with the family horse trainer.
It wasn’t a big secret that the Prince and Princess weren’t a happy couple. In fact, Prince Charles had a well-known affair with Camilla Parker Bowles while he was married to Diana, claims the New York Post. The pair eventually became married in 2005.
But while Charles was with Bowles, Diana had an affair with the family horse trainer, James Hewitt. Initially hired to give Diana and her sons William and Harry horseback riding lessons, Hewitt and the princess reportedly had their own affair during the late 1980s.
Hewitt was a major source for Anna Pasternak’s 1994 book Princess in Love in which he claimed their affair lasted for five years. In Diana’s 1995 interview with Panorama (after she and Charles separated), she confirmed the claim.
She snuck her kids junk food.
Although Princess Di followed a healthy diet, she requested that her chef sneak her sons unhealthy food at times. She felt that this helped them to experience some of the characteristics of typical childhoods.
Tiaras gave her a headache.
If it seemed like Princess Diana was in pain during royal functions, it may have been because she had a headache.
The princess didn’t like wearing tiaras because she said they made her head hurt, especially when she sported one on her wedding day.
Prince Charles wanted her title stripped after the divorce.
Although the prince and princess were married for 15 years, their relationship started to turn sour early on into the marriage. The princess stated that the couple was under a lot of pressure, which could have contributed to their unhappiness.
In that revealing Panorama interview with Martin Bashir in 1995, Diana famously remarked that “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” when asked about the role Camilla Parker-Bowles played in her relationship with Charles. The prince and princess separated in 1992 and their marriage was officially over in August 1996.
After the divorce, Diana lost her title official, likely due to Charles’ persistence that she lose her name. Although Queen Elizabeth II wanted her to keep her original title, Diana was given a new name: Diana, Princess of Wales.
The world was stunned to hear of Princess Di’s passing in a tragic car crash on Aug. 31, 1997. Speculation rose as to the official cause of the crash, including rumors of a set-up and that paparazzi was to blame.
According to CNN, two years later, it was ruled that Henri Paul, the driver of the car (who also perished, along with Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Fayed), was under the influence while behind the wheel and was the cause of the crash. However, investigations continued to take place after the ruling, a decade after her death.
Her funeral was supposed to be private, but billions of people watched.
Queen Elizabeth II allowed Diana’s funeral to become a public affair after she saw the outpouring of grief from the princess’ admirers.
It is reported that 2.5 billion people around the world either watched or listened to her funeral.
She is buried on an island.
Princess Diana’s final resting place is on an island in the middle of a lake on Althorp, her family’s estate.
The path that leads to the island features 36 trees—one planted for each year of her life.