Even 21 years after her untimely and tragic death, Princess Diana remains one of the most iconic members of the British Royal family.
An enigmatic persona, charming smile and a kind heart, made Diana the queen of hearts. But she also had a mind of her own, who constantly rebelled against the status quo, never hesitated to express herself in public and that made her a Princess that one could identify with.
She was the first royal bride to have a paying job as a nursery teacher, before her engagement.
She wrote her own wedding vows, and in a break with royal precedent, eliminated the word ‘obey’.
At the time, this omission created quite a stir.
Today, writing personal vows is a tradition that even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, follow.
Against the royal tradition, she chose to give birth to both her children at the St. Mary’s hospital in Paddington, and not at the Kensington Palace.
Diana wanted her children to have a regular childhood and it is believed that she tried her hardest to ensure she was with her kids, during their formative years.
Unlike other Queens and royal members, Diana was the first to breastfeed her children.
Prince William was the first royal heir to attend a public school. Princess Diana chose the names for her children, and organised her public duties around their timetables.
From clothes to food choices, she ensured that her children were not constrained by a royal childhood. She also took her kids with her while on tours, so she could be with the both of them.
She even took them to places royals rarely frequented, like Disneyland and McDonald’s.
She was and continues to be one of the most stylish women, and her fashion choices were as bold as they were unique.
Her famous ‘revenge dress’, that she wore to the Serpentine Gallery summer party in 1994, on the night when Prince Charles publicly confirmed his affair to Camilla Parker, is still the most perfect LBD.
During a Melbourne tour in 1985, Diana decided to wear her choker as a tiara, because why not! Diana’s sartorial choices were bold, chic and cool, very different from the way we saw royalty dress up.
At a time when mental and eating disorders were not widely accepted, let alone treated, she openly talked about her struggles with bulimia. Her flaws made her all the more endearing.
After 5 years of her marriage, her husband’s alleged (at the time) infidelity, and the age difference, made her royal marriage an unhappy one.
Breaking tradition, she chose to divorce her husband than continue an unhappy marriage. She was vilified by not only the royal family, but also by the public at the time.
And yet she chose to handle the public, and the obsessive paparazzi in her own way; even when news of her alleged affairs started surfacing.
Something she had been doing since her marriage, as the press wouldn’t leave her alone even on her family trips.
After her very public divorce, Diana did not shy away from the limelight. Or the spotlight could not leave her. But that did not deter her from living her life.
Despite being caught in a web of lies and leaked tapes, Diana faced the paparazzi head on.
She knew the power that came with the position she held, but she put it to good use. While monarchs were involved in charity work, Diana left an indelible impact. Never had anyone see a Princess hug a sick patient or shake hands with HIV sufferers.
She positively advocated for AIDS awareness, was the patron of The Leprosy Mission and was vocal about shunning the stigma associated with HIV and Leprosy patients.
Diana worked tirelessly for charitable causes, and made it her personal mission to make the world a better place. One of the many reasons why she was called the ‘people’s princess’.
She was extremely compassionate in her interaction with all members of the public. While interacting with children, she always stooped to eye level, a practice that Duchess Kate also follows.
She also stopped wearing hats because she felt, “you couldn’t cuddle children in a hat.”
Eleri Lynn, curator of the exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story, told People magazine,
She abandoned the royal protocol of wearing gloves because she liked to hold hands when visiting people or shake hands and have direct contact.