How Princess Diana changed Royal Family forever by breaking most important rules

How Princess Diana changed Royal Family forever by breaking most important rules


Princess Diana's determination to do things her own way changed the Royal Family forever, and she paved the way for her sons and their wives to do the same.

During her years in the royal spotlight she broke countless rules, especially when it came to raising her children, charity work and fashion.

She famously said: "I am following my heart, not my head. However it often causes troubles. But there should be somebody who will be closer to people, love them, and show this love to them."

On what should have been her 58th birthday, we've looked back at some on the huge impact the Peoples' Princess had on the monarchy and the country.

Raising her children

Before Diana, royal children were mainly raised by Palace staff including a team of dedicated nannies.

The Queen wasn't particularly involved in raising her children, and was often away for a months at a time when they were young.

But after the birth of Princes William and Harry, Diana changed all this with her hands-on approach.

Even though she was only 21 when she became a mum, she was determined to do a lot of the day-to-day child care and refused to leave her boys at home when she went away on Royal Tours, taking them with her instead.

But her parenting reportedly didn't go down well with other members of the family.

Charles apparently "frowned upon" her attitude and the Queen simply didn't understand.

According to royal expert Andrew Morton, the monarch voiced this view during a trip to Balmoral.

William's nanny wasn't there, so Diana did all the childcare, to which to Queen reportedly say: "I don't understand why Diana has to do this. There are millions of housemaids around."

Both her sons and their wives have taken similar approaches to raising their kids.

Kate and William only have one nanny to help with George, Charlotte and Louis and they still take on many of the tasks – including the school run – themselves.

Meghan and Harry reportedly didn't have any help at all in the first few weeks of Archie's life, doing absolutely everything themselves.

She put her children first

Traditionally, royal duty has often come before family life. However Diana wasn't having any of this.

While she did still have to work and the kids were cared for by nannies when she attended official events, she always tried to arrange them around the boys' lives.

She used to write their plans in her official diary in green ink.

The Cambridges seem to follow a similar arrangement now, and Kate and William rarely have official events during half terms when George and Charlotte are off.

She did 'normal' things

Diana wanted her kids to have as much of a 'normal' upbringing as possible, so did lots of ordinary things with them.

She made them ride on public transport and took them for fun days out, including a trip to Thorpe Park during the Easter Holidays in 1993.

Sticking with her plan to keep things normal, she told staff she wanted to be treated like everyone else, including queueing for all the rides.

Dressed in a Hard Rock Cafe black leather jacket, black jeans and flat boots, Diana looked happy and relaxed spending quality time with her sons.

They went on a number of the rides, including a rollercoaster and a water slide.

They also got soaked on the theme park's huge log flume – with Prince William taking the front seat, little brother Harry behind him and Diana at the back. 

According to Diana's former butler and close friend Paul Burrell, the trio had a very un-royal "Saturday night ritual" .

The loving mum would take her boys to McDonald's, where they would order Big Macs and chips.

They would then come home and sit on a giant stuffed hippopotamus Diana had in front of the TV and watch Blind Date.

Mr Burrell said: "The three of them would nip to McDonald’s for a  Big Mac  and fries before coming back to watch Blind Date. All three of them would squat on this massive, stuffed hippopotamus Diana had in her sitting room.

"They loved Blind Date and I’d hear them all screaming things like “Oh don’t pick him!” and “Lorra, lorra fun”.

She also took them to hospitals and homeless shelters so they saw what real life was like.

In 2012, William told ABC News: "She very much wanted to get us to see the rawness of real life.

"And I can't thank her enough for that, 'cause reality bites in a big way, and it was one of the biggest lessons I learned is, just how lucky and privileged so many of us are — particularly myself."

She wasn't formal at official engagements

Princess Diana went against royal protocol when it came to meeting people at official events.

She was the first royal to crouch down when chatting to kids, something Meghan and Kate do regularly.

She also changed the worlds view on AIDs when she shook hands with a HIV positive patient during a visit to a charity in 1987.

She said: "HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it."

She sent her kids to school

Before marrying Charles and becoming a working royal, Diana worked in a nursery school.

When William was little she insisted that he went to public school.

At the time, a journalist wrote: "The decision to have William, 3, develop his finger-painting skills among commoners showed the influence of Diana, Princess of Wales."

Harry and William both attended Jane Mynor's nursery school, and looked absolutely adorable in their grey and red uniforms.

Life at the Palace

Diana said Kensington Palace was like "prison" but she had a much more relaxed approach to life inside its walls than the other royals.

She was much less formal with the staff, often kicking off her shoes in the kitchen and pouring herself a glass of wine out the fridge.

Carolyn Robb, 53, started working for the young family in 1989 and stayed there until 2000.

Speaking to the  Sunday Times  , she said Diana was "very easy to cook for and loved simple things: cold minted lamb, salads, soufflés, stuffed aubergine."

She says that the mum-of-two would often get involved in the kitchen and even helped with the washing up.

She changed her wedding vows

Diana chose to break from tradition on wedding day and refused to say she would "obey" her husband in her vows.

Three decades later, the next generation of royal brides followed in her footsteps.

Kate, Meghan and Eugenie all made the same change to the promises they made at the alter.

She talked openly and honestly

After the break-down of her marriage, Diana gave a revealing and very honest interview to the BBC's Martin Bashir.

She spoke about her marriage and her struggles with eating disorders.

She said: "That's like a secret disease.

"You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable … It's a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself."

Her sons have both spoken about their personal experiences with mental health in recent years, highlighting the issue to a whole new audience.

Meghan Markle also spoke about her relationship with Prince Harry in a front page interview with Vanity Fair – sharing details on her own terms.

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