Sadly, today is the anniversary of the day Princess Diana died 13 years ago. To commemorate yet offset the somber occasion, here are a few lighthearted facts about the girl who was just shy Diana Frances Spencer before she was ever Her Royal Highness, Princess of Wales.
1. Before she became Princess of Wales, Diana was just an assistant at a nursery school.
2. She had her heart set on being a ballerina with the Royal Ballet. When her height topped out at 5’10”, however, she was declared too tall to make it to the professional heights she wanted to reach.
3. Her older sister, Sarah (pictured there with Diana), was involved with Prince Charles before she was. The relationship is said to have ended when she blabbed some details to the press and then proudly showed Charles the resulting newspaper clipping. Charles chastised her and turned his attentions to Diana shortly thereafter.
4. Now that was a wedding dress. You’ve probably seen pictures of the unbelievable train – 25 feet of ivory silk taffeta and antique lace, to be exact. The dress also had 10,000 pearls hand-sewn onto it.
5. Diana was famously protective of her sons and tried very hard to give them a somewhat “normal” upbringing, including taking them to school herself when she could. But what you may not know is that she also liked to occasionally indulge their more, um, boyish whims, even if it meant using her royal status: she once invited Cindy Crawford to Buckingham Palace for dinner because William had a crush on her.
6. She was perhaps one of the most punctual thank you note writers ever. She was known for sending thank you notes for the smallest of deeds and doing it nearly immediately. Diana instilled this in her children too – when a bundle of her correspondence was put up for auction earlier this year, it included a thank you note written by Prince William: “Thank you for the James Bond video it is brilliant. Thank you. See you soon. With love from William.”
7. Prince Charles and the Royal Family aside, Diana had some pretty interesting relatives. Her stepmother, Raine, was the daughter of famous bodice-ripper writer Barbara Cartland. She was a second cousin once-removed to American actor Oliver Platt (they never met). She was also seventh cousins with Humphrey Bogart.
8. She loved ABBA.
9. And, somewhat surprisingly, she loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tim Curry once said in an interview that when he met her she thanked him for making the movie, saying it had “completed” her education.
10. She is buried at her family estate, Althorp Park, on an island. There are 36 oak trees leading to the lake, one for each of her 36 years, and there are four black swans that swim in the lake to “guard” the island.
To me, Princess Diana’s death is probably like the Challenger explosion or 9/11 – you’ll always remember where you were when you heard about it. Where were you ?