20 Little Known Facts About Princess Diana

20 Little Known Facts About Princess Diana
Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images


Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana was by far the most famous woman in the world during her time. Roughly 750 milion people watched her get married to Prince Charles, and 2.5 billion were glued to their televisions during her funeral. Countless books and articles have been written about her, and there have been plenty of movies, documentaries, and specials -- so we know a lot about her. 

But there's so much information and so many experiences that she shared with so many people around the world, that new details are always popping up as people bring them to light. As it turns out, there's plenty yet to learn about the fascinating woman, fashion icon, once-future queen, mom to Prince Harry and Prince William, and humanitarian known as "the People's Princess."

We know many things about Princess Diana. We know that her engagement ring was an enormous sapphire and diamond piece that she picked out of a catalog, and it was (eventually) passed down to Kate Middleton. We know that her wedding dress had a 25-foot train. We know that her and Prince Charles' divorce was messy, and we know that she died in a car crash in Paris.

But other nuggets that illuminate her character, motivations, and background have continually come out, thanks to interviews and books put out by her butlers, her friends, her friends' friends, and her sons. The hunger for all details Diana is still so big, even 23 years after her death, that eventually, everybody talks. (We even know one of the most heartbreaking things about her because of a police inquest.)  

Desire to know more about Diana will only continue. Her star shone brightly when she was alive, but after her death, she became legendary. 

Here are 20 little known facts about Diana's life.

  • Freddie Mercury Snuck Her Into a Gay Bar

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    princess diana
    Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

    Though a lot of people know about her friendship with Elton John, Diana was pals with another rock star: Freddie Mercury. A mutual friend wrote a book in which she described how the princess once hung out at a gay bar with Freddie and his friends by dressing up as a man and passing herself off as a male model. (Classic.) The gag -- one of many times that Diana disguised herself to go out into the town -- worked and she was able to party undiscovered. 

    Sounds like fun!

  • She Was Madly in Love With Hasnat Khan When She Died

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    haznat khan
    Stan Karczmarz/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

    She may have been seeing Dodi Fayed when the two were killed in Paris, but for two years before her death, Diana was in a relationship with Hasnat Khan, a surgeon who worked in London. After her disastrous marriage and failed relationships, he represented a shot at normalcy for her. Diana would often wait for him to be done with work at his apartment, while cleaning up and folding his laundry, and tried to win over his Pakistani family in hopes they could marry. But he hated the idea of living and raising a family under the media glare, and ultimately, they broke up. Sadly, Diana died a short time later, still hoping to win him back. 

    "Everybody sells me out. Hasnat is the one person who will never sell me out," Diana once told a friend. And she was right. The only time he talked about her was when he was forced to -- in the police inquest after her death.

  • Another Man Also Won Her Heart

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    barry mannekee and princess diana
    Kent Gavin/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

    Almost as little known as Hasnat Khan was Barry Mannakee, one of Diana's early bodyguards who may well have been her first love. In private video tapes she made for her voice coach, recounting her life story, Princess Diana talked about how she was in love with him and became close -- though she said it was never sexual. When the palace got wind of it, he was transferred to a different security detail. He was killed in a motorcycle accident three weeks later.

  • Flower Bouquets Left by Mourners Were Used to Make a Memorial Garden

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    white garden at kensington palace
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    When Harry and Meghan held their engagement photo call in the White Garden at Kensington Palace, they were quietly including Diana in the big moment. The beautiful area, called the Sunken Garden in her day, was Diana's favorite part of the palace -- and she would often stop there to talk to the gardeners on her way back from a morning jog. After her death, the sea of flower bouquets left by mourners at the Kensington Palace gate were gathered up and used to fertilize a garden. In 2017, the mulch from that garden was used to make an all-white garden that opened on the 20th anniversary of her death.

  • Diana Buried a Friend's Child at Kensington Palace

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    princess diana and rosa monckton
    Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

    In one of her most compassionate but least known acts, Princess Diana helped a friend heal from an unimaginable loss. When her close friend, Rosa Monckton, had a stillborn child, she was devastated. Diana offered to bury the baby girl in her own small garden, so Rosa (seen above, with Diana) could visit any time she wished. The touching move only came to light during the trial of Diana's butlers -- who were accused of stealing belongings from the apartment -- as they'd been the ones to prepare the site.

  • Charles' Comment on Harry Broke Her Heart & Ended Their Marriage

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    princess diana and prince charles
    Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

    When Diana gave birth to Harry, Prince Charles was disappointed, she revealed in Diana: Her Untold Story by Andrew Morton. "Charles always wanted a girl," she said. "Harry was a boy. His first comment was, 'Oh God, it's a boy.' And he's even got red hair." Diana said something inside her "just closed off" and "it just went bang, [their] marriage. The whole thing went down the drain."

  • Princess Diana's Grave Is on an Island ... and It's Been Attacked Four Times

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    princess diana grave site
    David Goddard/Getty Images

    Because Diana got divorced and was stripped of her HRH title, she did not get buried in a royal site. Instead, her brother, Charles Spencer, buried her on an island in the middle of an oval lake in her ancestral home of Althorp. Though the island itself is not open to visitors, two months out of the year, people can pay their respects at a small temple built for Diana on the shore. Charles recently said that there have been four attempts to rob the grave without success.

  • A Photographer Once Made a Chilling Promise to Her

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    Ian Tyas/Getty Images

    Diana began being hounded by the press as soon as she got engaged to Prince Charles, and though she tried to use the media to her advantage as well, they were obviously so aggressive that they even caused her death. One photographer even made it clear that he'd never stop stalking her, according to her brother, Charles. "I remember she told me about one man who promised to hound her until the day she died and he would urinate on her grave," he said. "So she was dealing with a very dark side of the media."

  • Living on the Queen's Estate as a Child

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    PA Images via Getty Images

    Though the grand estate of Althorp is the ancestral home where she spent her later teen years, Diana was born into a home on the Sandringham estate, private home of the Queen, and lived there until age 14. That may be because of her family's close ties with royalty. Not only are the Spencers one of Britain's oldest aristocratic families, but Diana's grandmother was one of the monarch's ladies-in-waiting, and Queen Elizabeth attended Diana's parents' wedding.

  • Princess Diana Gave Birth to William Standing Up

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    Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

    Diana was the first royal to give birth in a hospital -- which makes William the first future British king to be born in one and Prince Charles the first royal dad to attend a birth -- but that's not the only way she broke with tradition. She also had a natural birth with no pills or anesthesia, and when the time came to push out baby William, she stood up and pushed the baby out while Charles held her.

  • There Is a Picture That Could Have Prevented Her Wedding

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    Paul Marotta/Getty Images

    This picture went on auction in 2013, and even then -- 16 years after her death -- it caused quite a stir. That's because it shows Diana on vacation, lying on a bed in Switzerland, while a friend named Adam Russell (son of a politician) reads next to her. The picture was bought by the Mirror two days after Diana and Charles' engagement was announced, but never published. Can't help but wonder what would have happened had it come to light.

  • She Hated Balmoral & We Don't Blame Her

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    prince charles and princess diana
    Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Who takes their new wife to their parents' house for a honeymoon? (Ugh.) After a 14-day cruise around the Mediterranean, Charles and Diana headed to the Queen's privately owned home in Scotland, Balmoral. He spent a lot of time reading -- which she hated -- because she felt like he should be paying attention to her instead. (She was just 20, remember?) Diana also hated the drafty house, the rainy, gray weather, the hunting and fishing -- pretty much everything about the place. She avoided going there whenever she could for the rest of her marriage.

  • Charles Dated Her Sister First

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    sarah spencer and prince charles
    Serge Lemoine/Getty Images)

    As members of the aristocracy, who were friendly with the royal family, the Spencers had plenty of opportunities to mix and even date. That's what happened when Charles took a liking to Diana's older sister, Sarah. They were an item for a few months in 1977, but it ended when Sarah actually did an interview with the Mirror and made it clear that she would not marry Charles "If he were the dustman or the King of England." 

    Dayum, that's worse than ghosting.

  • She Had Cute Nicknames for William and Harry

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    princess diana and prince harry and prince william
    Antony Jones/Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

    Diana adored children, and it showed in the way she doted on Princes William and Harry, raising them to be grounded and aware of life outside palace gates. She even had special nicknames for them. Princess Diana called William 'Wombat," after the animal she'd been charmed by in Australia. Harry reportedly two nicknames: Ginger, because of his red hair, of course, and Good King Harry because she thought he'd actually make a great leader.

  • She Did a Surprise Onstage Performance

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    Diana was a huge fan of ballet (she wanted to be a professional dancer as a kid) but was told she was too tall. As a royal, she patronized the ballet and other dance companies. One Christmas, at a gala for ballet patrons, she teamed up with a male dancer to suprise the guests and Prince Charles with a number. The duo danced to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," and the audience went wild. One person who was not impressed was Charles, who thought she was showing off. 

    Sad.

  • Diana Had a Special Connection to Princess Grace

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    princess diana prince charles princess grace
    Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Diana stepped out with Prince Charles to a gala after her engagement. She was wearing a gorgeous strapless gown that he told her was totally inappropriate, making her self conscious. But Princess Grace, noticing her discomfort, reassured her by making a joke: "Don't worry it gets worse!" (The two had a laugh.) Diana and Grace remained close, and Diana was the only British royal to attend her funeral in 1982.

  • Her Home Was Full of Stuffed Animals

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    Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

    People loved Diana -- so much that everywhere she went, she was handed gifts and mementos by crowds of people gathered to meet her. Among her favorites were stuffed animals. Among the many revelations that her former butler, Paul Burrell, made in his memoir, The Way We Were: Remembering Diana, revealing Diana had a collection of teddy bears lining her bedroom.   

  • She Was the First English Royal Bride in Centuries

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    princess diana and prince charles
    Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Diana, whose aristocratic family has been rooted in England since time immemorial and whose lineage included royalty, was English through and through. The royal family? Not so much. For centuries, they made strategic marriages with other royal houses in Europe. Charles' background, for example, is mostly German on both his parents' sides. That may be one reason for her massive popularity. When she married Charles, Diana was the first English bride in 300 years.

  • She Pranked Everyone

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    Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

    Princess Diana had a huge sense of humor and an even bigger talent for mischief. (She loved pulling pranks.) Some of her biggest ones include Diana and Fergie dressing up as police officers to try to crash Prince Andrew's bachelor party -- only to get rounded up in a van by real officers. Another time, Diana targeted her Kensington Palace neighbor, Princess Michael of Kent, who disliked her -- so Diana pulled on a workout thong (don't ask, it was the '80s) and paraded herself outside her enemy's window, where her stuffy friends looked on in horror.

  • ... And She Got Pranked Back Big Time

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    David Levenson/Getty Images

    Diana pranked her sons a lot -- especially William -- but one day he got her back, says her former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe. Diana had offered to wash a work shirt that he'd changed out of and threw it in the wash before he could object. The next day, she was ironing that shirt and others while wearing only a towel. William pulled off the towel, and she was naked underneath. The embarrassed bodyguard reprimanded William, but Diana could do nothing but laugh.

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