In honor of the 21 years it has been since Princess Diana passed away in a car crash in France, here are some lesser-known facts about her.
Princess Diana was the first wife of Prince Charles. They were divorced in 1996 but Diana remained an object of scrutiny and attention from the media even after leaving Prince Charles. On 31 August, 1997, she died in a car crash in Paris, France. Despite the 21 years it has been to her death, she remains a popular figure today and is loved and adored by fans worldwide.
In honor of the anniversary of her death, here are some lesser known facts about the Princess:
1. She took her kids to McDonald’s
Princess Diana gained fame for taking her sons to McDonald’s, which she did in an attempt to give them as normal a childhood as possible.
Prince William later told Good House Keeping, “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.”
2. Prince Charles did not want to marry her
Rumors floating around before the wedding said that Prince Charles was standing at the window of Buckingham Palace with Princess Diana with tears pouring down his face. He wanted to marry Camilla right from the start, but she was married to someone else, hence he went through with his marriage with Princess Diana.
3. She had an affair with James Hewitt
From 1986 until 1991, Diana had a relationship with James Hewitt, a former cavalry office. The couple were actually very serious about each other, and Hewitt even considered committing suicide after his affair with Diana ended.
When he was asked what he thought Charles would have felt about the affair, he said, “He was probably grateful someone was looking for his wife.”
4. She was distantly related to Prince Charles
Diana and Prince Charles were distantly related to each other through King Henry VII, which made them 16th cousins. She was also related to Winston Churchill and 10 US Presidents: George Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and both Bush presidents.
5. Her sister dated Prince Charles before she did
Charles dated one of Diana’s older sisters before he got engaged to her. Lady Sarah McCorquodale dated the Prince for nine months in 1977. He met Diana during this courtship, and she was only 16 at the time.
His sister said while they were dating, “Our relationship is totally platonic. I think of him as the big brother I never had. I wouldn’t marry a man I didn’t love, whether it was a dustman or the King of England.” She added, “If he asked me I would turn him down.”
6. She had a special relationship with Mother Teresa
Diana met Mother Teresa several times, and even met her during the last months of her life, in New York in June 1997. On September 6, 1997, Mother Teresa also passed away, and her death was eclipsed by news surrounding Diana’s funeral. Diana was buried with a set of rosary beads given to Mother Teresa.
7. Her grave is on an island
Diana is buried on an island on her family’s estate. The island is in an ornamental lake in Althorp Park. The site is surrounded by four black swans and 36 oak trees, one for each year of her life.
8. She taught Charles how to tap dance
She taught the Prince how to dance in 1977, and three years later in 1980 they started going out.
9. She was home-schooled during the start of her education
She was home schooled until the age of 9, and then put into school after her parents divorce. She then attended Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk. At the age of 12, she was sent to an exclusive boarding school called the West Health School.
10. Her favorite dessert was bread and butter pudding
Her favorite dessert was bread and butter pudding. Her personal chef, Darren McGrady said that she entered the kitchen while he was cooking and snacked on it. The recipe for her preferred dessert is in McGrady’s book, Eating Royally.
11. She performed at the Royal Opera House and Prince Charles did not like it
At the start of her marriage to Charles, she rehearsed a routine with dancer Wayne Sleep for months. In 1985, she attended the Royal Opera House with her husband. She pretended to go to the washroom, snuck backstage and put on a silver gown. She then took to the stage to perform Uptown Girl by Billy Joel.
Wayne said the audience was thunderstruck, saying, “We did eight curtain calls… 2000 people with one gasp of breath together, Id’ never heard that before. They were in shock and then they realised it was her. I said now you have to bow to the royal box and she said ‘I’m not bowing to him, he’s my husband! I said, well I have to!”
Andrew Morton related in his book Diana Her True Story that Prince Charles was actually not happy about Diana’s performance.
12. She had a secret older brother
Before Diana was born on July 1, 1961, an older brother of hers was born on January 12, 1960. However, John Spencer died just ten hours after birth due to severe deformities. Diana often visited his grave with her brother, and said, “I was the girl who was supposed to be a boy.”
Princess Diana would have been 57 years old today.