When she was alive, Princess Diana dropped quite a few bombshells about her marriage to Prince Charles and her time as a member of the royal family. After her death, even more secrets and confessions were revealed through books written about her and audio recordings she kept.
In 2017, when Britain finalized plans to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana’s untimely death, several documentaries were released allowing the public to learn more about the “People’s Princess,” from her and Prince Charles’ extramarital affairs to the surprising thing she did on their wedding day. Here, we have compiled a list of some of the most surprising things you probably didn’t know about Princess Diana until now.
1. Diana’s sister dated Charles first
That’s right — before Diana and Charles got together, the prince dated her sister, Sarah. While it sounds like an extremely awkward situation, Diana’s older sibling has spoken about this fact in the past and explained that she actually introduced the pair.
“I introduced them,” she said. “I’m Cupid.”
2. Diana and Charles were cousins
Yes, you read that correctly. They were distant cousins — very, very distant. Diana and Charles were 16th cousins once removed as they are both descendants of Tudor King, Henry VII.
The Duke of Marlborough was another one of Diana’s royal ancestors.
3. Diana overheard Charles tell Camilla Parker Bowles that he loved her
Charles had a relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwell, before he met Diana. The princess said that Charles kept in contact with his old flame while they were married and that she overheard him telling Bowles that he loved her.
“I once heard him on the telephone in his bath on his hand-held set, saying, ‘Whatever happens, I will always love you,’” she recounted.
4. The princess kept audio recordings of her innermost thoughts
Diana documented her thoughts on tape to serve as a record for her side of the story once it was apparent that her marriage to Prince Charles was not going to work.
She gave the tapes to Dr. James Colthurst, who then hand-delivered them to Andrew Morton. The audio recordings were Diana’s way of getting her story out to the British public.
5. Diana called her wedding day the ‘worst day’ of her life
In the documentary titled Diana: In Her Own Words, the Princess of Wales discussed the doubts she had about marrying Charles and called her wedding day “the worst day” of her life.
“I went upstairs, had lunch with my sisters who were there, and I said, ‘I can’t marry him. I can’t do this. This is absolutely unbelievable,’” Diana can be heard saying on a tape. “And they were wonderful and said, ‘Well, bad luck, Duch. Your face is on the tea towel, so you’re too late to chicken out.’”
6. Diana refused to use the word ‘obey’ in her vows
Diana broke tradition when she refused to say the word “obey” during her wedding vows to Charles.
Thirty years later, Kate Middleton opted not to say the word as well when she married Charles and Diana’s son, Prince William. While Diana’s decision at the time was met with controversy, the decision by Middleton to omit the word was viewed as appropriate.
7. Diana called Charles by the wrong name during their wedding ceremony
Another incident that occurred during the couple’s wedding is that Diana accidentally called Charles by the wrong name.
The bride called the prince by his middle name, Philip, but perhaps it was just nerves, as their ceremony was dubbed the “wedding of the century” and was watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world. No pressure or anything.
8. Diana’s grandmother served the Royal Family
Not many people can say that they’ve had a job serving the royal family, but Diana’s grandmother, Ruth Fermoy, was a lady in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Since the two women were so close, many assumed that they encouraged their grandchildren to get married. However, they denied those reports.
9. The princess admitted to having an affair with her riding instructor
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The Princess of Wales confirmed during a televised interview that she had an affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt. She also admitted that she and Charles had been living separate lives and that he had been seeing Bowles the entire time they were married.
“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she said.
Diana also spoke about her sex life with the prince and confessed that they were only intimate once every few weeks, something she attributed to his affair with Bowles.
10. Diana’s stunning engagement ring was not custom-made for her
Engagement rings for the royals are usually custom-made, but Diana selected hers from a catalog. The stunning Garrad ring has 14 solitaire diamonds around a 12-carat sapphire and is set in 18-carat white gold.
In 2010, Prince William proposed to Middleton with the ring.
11. Diana stayed at Kurt Russell’s Colorado estate to escape the paparazzi
Diana was constantly under a microscope and followed by the paparazzi, but she did have one place where she and her children went to escape prying eyes.
After meeting Kurt Russell at a movie premiere and discussing how she was hounded by the British press, the actor invited Diana to stay at his 70-acre Colorado estate. The princess accepted his offer and stayed there with William and Harry for several days.
12. Diana ate in the kitchen with staffers
Something Diana did from time to time that the other royals did not was eat with the kitchen staff. When the People’s Princess did not have anyone to keep her company during lunch, she had no problem with sitting in the kitchen and eating with the staff.
Her personal chef, Darren McGrady, said that she would just walk into the kitchen and eat at a countertop. He stressed that this was something “the rest of the royals would never do.”
13. Diana had a title before she even married Prince Charles
Before she even married the prince, Diana had a title of her own. When her father was made an Earl in 1975, she was given the title Lady Diana Spencer.
In 1981, she married Charles and her title became Diana, Princess of Wales. She retained that title after she and Charles divorced.
14. Diana struggled with depression and an eating disorder for years
The princess struggled with bulimia and depression for years. Diana revealed that her eating disorder began when Charles made a remark about her figure. She recalled him touching her waist and saying, “Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?”
She said that comment, and what she knew about his affair with Bowles, led to stress and sadness for a long time.
15. The princess admitted that she tried to take her own life
At one point, while dealing with her depression and eating disorder, Diana attempted suicide before seeking treatment for mental health issues in London. “I was in a very bad way. I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades,” she confessed in her audio recordings.
On August 31, 1997, Diana, her companion Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul were all killed, following a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris. There are many conspiracy theories surrounding her death, but to this day, people around the world are still fascinated by the life of the late princess.