At the time of her death, Princess Diana was not only a princess but also the most photographed woman in history. She was a trailblazer, style icon, an activist and one of the most influential people of the 20th Century. Even though most of her life was lived in the spotlight, under oppressive scrutiny from the media and tabloids, there is still so much that people don’t know about her.
From her early education to her humanitarian work, these are some of the things that you didn’t know about the people's princess, Diana Spencer.
1. She was the fourth of five children
Princess Diana was the fourth in a family of five children. She has two sisters, Sarah, who is now known as Lady Sarah McCourqoudale, and Jane, now Lady Jane Fellowes. She also has a younger brother, Charles Spencer now Earl Spencer. Her other brother John Spencer died just hours after his birth in January 1960, a year and a half before Diana was born.
2. Her grandmother served as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother
Diana's maternal grandmother Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I, who later became the Queen Mother. As such, she acted as a personal assistant and companion to the Queen Mother.
3. Her height prevented her from becoming a ballerina
In an interview in 2017, Diana's ballet teacher Anne Allan, opened up about her ties to the Princess saying that she had dance in her soul. Anne said that she had noticed the pure enjoyment that dance brought the Princess. Diana's brother, Earl Spencer has also spoken about his sister's love for ballet and how she would spend hours dancing her heart out in the hallway of their home.
4. School was not her strong suit
Princess Diana was home-schooled up until she was nine years old. She then attended boarding school for the rest of her education. Diana failed her O-Level examinations twice and dropped out of school when she was 16 years old. She then attended school in Switzerland for only one semester before she met Prince Charles.
5. She worked as a nanny and a teacher
Before Diana met Prince Charles and became a princess, she had worked many jobs just like any other young girl her age. She was a school teacher and a nanny. Diana was paid Sh500 an hour to play with children, do laundry and clean. She also worked as a part-time kindergarten teacher in Pimlico, London.
6. Prince Charles dated her older sister first
Before Diana dated and married Prince Charles, he had dated her older sister Sarah in the late 70s. This is how Diana and the Prince first met. Sarah introduced them.
7. Her wedding dress was record-breaking
Her ivory taffeta dress was made by married couple David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The gown had over 10,000 pearls and a 25-foot train which is one of the longest royal wedding dress trains the world has ever seen.
8. She omitted part of her vows
Diana broke barriers when she omitted the part of her vows that said she would obey her husband. This was contrary to the traditional wedding vows taken by the Royals. Instead, she promised to love, comfort, honour and keep her husband in sickness and in health. Diana started a tradition and both Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton kept "obey" out of their wedding vows.
9. She was the first royal to give birth in a hospital
Before Diana, the Royals had an old tradition of delivering their children at home. Prince William was the first future monarch to be born in a hospital. Diana gave birth to both William and Harry at the Lindo wing at St. Mary's Hospital.
10. She was a breakthrough activist for HIV awareness
In April 1987, Diana made history when she was photographed shaking hands with an HIV patient without wearing gloves. The photo helped in changing the public’s perception on HIV patients. On that day the Princess also opened the UK's first HIV/AIDS unit at London Middlesex Hospital, a special unit for treating patients infected with the virus.
11. She had an affair with her bodyguard
It is thought that Diana had an affair with her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee, while she was still married to Prince Charles. Mannakee was in the Royal Protection Squad before becoming Diana's bodyguard in 1985. After only a year, Mannakee was relieved of his royal duties because of having an unusually close relationship with the Princess. In a tape from Diana's therapy session, she admitted that he was deeply in love and was happy to give everything up just to go off and live with Mannakee. Even though she did not directly name him, it is widely believed that she was talking about him. Mannakee later died in a motorcycle accident in 1987.
12. Her dresses raised millions for charity
A couple of months before she passed away, Diana held an auction at Christie's to sell 79 of her most iconic dresses to raise money for AIDS and Cancer charities. One of the most popular dresses that was auctioned was the '’Travolta dress," a blue velvet gown that Princess Diana wore to a gala at the White House where she danced with John Travolta.