Though the royal family has been historically known to be a group of pretty stuffy, traditional folks, once Princess Diana was welcomed into the fold, all of that changed.
Queen Elizabeth was set in her ways (as were the rest of her family members), but Diana seemed to believe that royal rules were meant to be broken — and that meant that she did things her own way.
Of course, behind the scenes, it might have ruffled a few feathers, but it certainly made people all over the world adore her even more.From the way she parented her children, Princes William and Harry, to the way she gave of herself to those in need and beyond, it was so easy to love Diana while she was alive — and even more so after, now that we have an even better view of all the good she did during her lifetime (and how the effects of that good have rippled since then).
Certain members of the royal family are very loved today (who doesn’t adore Kate Middleton?) but we have to admit that nobody’s doing it like Diana did. And there’s a good chance no one will again.
The Engagement Interview
One of the big ways Diana, who was Lady Diana Spencer at the time, was introduced to the public before her wedding to Prince Charles was in an engagement interview that the couple did together. Though it certainly had its awkward moments, Diana, who was just 19 at the time, was sweet, reserved, and unassuming — it was easy to like her right off the bat.
Another one of the earliest opportunities for the public to fall in love with Diana was when she and Charles got married on July 29, 1981. It was then that they started the tradition of royal newlyweds sharing a kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace — and of course, her ruffly wedding dress instantly became iconic.
In 1983, Diana and Charles traveled to Australia, but it was different from the way royal tours usually go. Though in many cases, a royal mother would leave their baby behind or under the care of a nanny, Diana insisted on bringing baby William with her, which only endeared the public to her more.
Her Work With Land Mines.
One of the causes closest to Diana’s heart was bringing an end to the use of land mines. She famously visited Angola to meet with those who had been victims of the explosives and to speak with the British Red Cross about the work it had been doing there. And who could forget the moment she walked across a minefield to make a statement?
Back in Diana’s day, the AIDS and HIV crisis was quite scary, especially since we didn’t know as much as we do about it. Then, there was still a stigma around even touching someone who had been diagnosed with AIDS, even though scientists had already concluded years earlier that the disease couldn’t be transmitted that way. Diana shocked the world when she shook hands with patients without gloves, showing compassion for those who were struggling and doing what she could to break that stigma.
This wasn’t just one of the most iconic moments in Diana’s life that made people fall in love with her — it was also one of her most iconic fashion moments. On the day that Charles admitted to having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles during a TV interview, Diana showed up for an event wearing this dress. Who wouldn’t love her after that?
During a visit to the White House in 1985, Diana famously danced with John Travolta (and looked good doing it, too). She and the Grease star got paired up to hit the dance floor with a little help from first lady Nancy Reagan, and the dress Diana was wearing that night has since become known as the “Travolta dress.”
Her Tell-All Interview With Martin Bashir.
Diana’s interview on Panorama with Martin Bashir has come to be known as a controversial one — but it was also one where she ended up becoming much more human to people who tuned in. In the tell-all, she was honest about her feelings about her marriage, the royal family, and even her eating disorder. She didn’t hold back.
As a royal mom, Diana started a tradition that the Duchess of Cambridge has chosen to continue: Not only did she give birth in a hospital, which wasn’t what many royals did at the time, but she also showed off her babies outside the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Harry and William were both introduced to the public that way, as were all three of Kate and William’s children.
She Taught Her Children To Care for Others.
Serving others was extremely important to Diana during her life, and it’s a value she instilled in her sons. She used to take them with her to homeless shelters, including this visit to Centrepoint in London. It certainly seems like this is something both Harry and William have carried with them as adults.
Diana did things her way, and that included how she parented her sons. She made as much time for them as she could, despite her royal duties, and also made sure she was the one who took them to school. After having a mom like that, it’s no surprise that William and Harry are raising their kids the same way.
Diana took her kids on a lot of vacations, and every time, it looked like she was definitely enjoying herself with Harry and William. From ski trips and beach trips to even a vacation at Disney World in Florida, there was no shortage of adventure that the boys had with their mom.
Her Laid-Back Style.
There are plenty of fashion moments of Diana’s that those of us non-royals could probably never afford, but then, there were the moments where her style was much more approachable, and that made people love her even more. Bike shorts with crewneck sweatshirts? A total look that anyone can re-create.
The Dress Auction.
In 1997, just a couple of months before Diana’s untimely death, she auctioned off 79 of her famous dresses to benefit cancer and AIDS charities. In total, her dresses brought in more than $3 million, including $225,500 for the Travolta dress alone. Pretty impressive!
In April 1991, Diana once again stole hearts of people around the world when she visited a hostel in São Paolo, Brazil, that housed children who were sick with AIDS and HIV. She didn’t hold back in giving them hugs and lots of cuddles, proving just how caring and compassionate she was.