Here’s the truth behind ten commonly believed myths about the late Princess Diana.
10. She Was Just a Commoner Before Marrying Prince Charles
Princess Diana was actually born British nobility (the Honourable Diana Frances Spencer) in July 1961, her brother, British nobleman Charles Spencer told Closer Weekly magazine. Her title later became Lady Diana Spencer when her father inherited the Earl Spencer title in 1975. And, here’s another fact: Her wealthy family had been a part of British history for centuries. Among her ancestors were Privy Councillors, Knights of the Garter, and a First Lord of the Admiralty. She was also a relative of Kings Charles II, James II, and Sarah, Duchess of York. Even she and Prince Charles were related (distant cousins of course). When interviewed by Andrew Morton for his biography, Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words, Diana told him that prior to marrying Prince Charles, she “had a very good lifestyle. I had my own money and lived in a big house. It wasn’t as though I was going into anything different.”
9. She Had a Wicked Stepmother
What’s a good princess story without a wicked stepmother? But, the notion that Princess Diana’s stepmother, Countess Raine Spencer, was like some sort of fairtyale villain is simply not true. According to British author and journalist Harry Mount, the two actually grew to be quite close — particularly in the latter part of Diana’s life when she and Prince Charles’ marriage began to fall apart. But, it’s entirely understandable where this myth came from. After all, the Countess married Diana’s father when the princess was just 15 years old. And, you know how kids can be when it comes to stepparents. Which is likely why Diana often referred to her stepmother as “Acid Raine.” But, the truth of the matter is, “Diana was on better terms with Raine 20 years ago than she was with her own mother,” Michael Cole, a former BBC journalist and director of public affairs for Harrods, said, according to the National Post.
8. The Paparazzi Intentionally Tried to Kill Her
All of us — especially celebrities — know how annoying the paparazzi can be. And, while the paparazzi was in fact chasing the car Diana was in that fateful night, they weren’t purposely trying to make the car crash. According to The Independent, “official investigations have found that the Mercedes car that Diana was in does seem to have driven quickly in part to escape the photographers. But Operation Paget found that was the result of normal behavior by the paparazzi, and that they hadn’t been participating in any criminal conspiracy.”
7. She Was Extremely Ladylike at All Times
Judging by the images of Diana we were shown on television and in the magazines, one would think that she was extremely ladylike at all times. But, her son Prince William revealed otherwise in a documentary titled “Diana, Our Mother.” According to Prince William, the princess had “a very cheeky sense of humor.” She would send me “the rudest cards imaginable” while I was away at school, he said, according to Best Life magazine. They were “very embarrassing, very funny cards, and then sort of written very nice stuff inside. But I didn’t open it in case teachers or anyone else in the class had seen it.”
6. She Was Shy
When Lady Diana Spencer was first introduced to the public as Prince Charles’ fiancée, the press gave her the nickname “Shy Di.” But, according to Diana’s brother, Charles, and Dickie Arbiter, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s former press secretaries, that could not be any further from the truth. In fact, Charles remembers her being an “incredibly brave” young girl when they were growing up in Althorp. She was always a bit annoyed by that nickname. And, unfortunately, the name stuck.
5. Prince Philip Didn’t Like Her
We know that in-laws sometimes bump heads, and that parents often feel like no one is good enough to marry their child. But, the notion that Prince Philip didn’t like Diana was not at all accurate. In fact, he was quite fond of her. So, just how exactly did this rumor get started? Well, according to Reader’s Digest, Diana wrote a letter to Morton in 1991, stating that she felt “extremely isolated” and “continuously misunderstood” by the Royal family. And, because she never disclosed how close she was to her father-in-law, Morton most likely assumed that she was having issues with him as well.
4. She Was Shorter Than Prince Charles
If you look at most photographs of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, you’d think he was at least two feet taller than her. But, the truth of the matter is these photos are quite misleading. In fact, she was actually the same height as her husband.
FUN FACT: Her height might have led to her earning the nickname “Shy Di.” According to Reader’s Digest, Arbiter told Vogue that if Diana kept her head down while talking, it was only because she was so much taller than most.
3. She Was the First People’s Princess
Contrary to popular belief, Diana was not the first “People’s Princess.” There was actually one before her — former Princess of Wales Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), who was the Queen consort of Prince George IV. According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, “she was greatly loved by the people… You might say she was beloved by the people both in spite of and because of the fact that she was despised and disrespected by her own husband, the Prince of Wales, essentially from day one of the marriage.”
2. She Thought Prince William Would Make the Better King
Since birth order determines who the actual heir to a throne will be, it makes sense that people would assume Princess Diana thought that William would make a better king than Harry. That notion, however, is entirely false. According to Best Life magazine, royal biographer Angela Levin said that Diana actually thought that Harry would be better suited to the role. In Levin’s 2018 biography, Harry: Conversations With the Prince, Levin noted that Diana believed that Harry had stronger leadership qualities. She also said that she was worried that William didn’t even want to be king, and, as a result, he may not be able to cope with the role.
1. Her Children Chose to Walk Behind Her Coffin
According to Reader’s Digest, Princess Diana’s brother told the BBC that her children did not choose to walk behind her coffin in the funeral processional. Prince Harry confirmed what his uncle said. He told Newsweek in an interview, “my mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television. I don’t think any child should be asked to do that under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
Your turn! What myths did you believe about Princess Diana? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!