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5 Rules of the Royal Family That Princess Diana Changed for Good

As a representative of an aristocratic family, Diana Spencer was perfect at being a princess. She managed to quickly overshadow other members of the royal family with her actions and behavior. Thanks to her, the image of a princess stopped being perceived as something haughty and unearthly. She has shown people that she is not a star from another galaxy, but an ordinary person just like us.

Bright Side is going to tell you how Lady Di broke the royal protocol and how it affected the British royal family.

1. She chose her engagement ring by herself.

UPPA/Photoshot/REPORTER/East News, © dukeandduchessofcambridge / Instagram

As a rule, engagement rings for royal couples are ordered from famous jewelers and family relics are often used as the main stones. For example, the engagement ring of Elizabeth II was made of the purest diamond that was taken from one of Princess Alice’s tiaras. Alice was the mother of Elizabeth’s future husband — Prince Philip.

Princess Diana strayed from this tradition and chose a ring that she liked from a catalog. Of course, it didn’t make her ring any less gorgeous that other royal pieces of jewelry but, as Diana herself noted, it was far from being the most expensive ring. Her jewelry was passed on and is now worn as an engagement ring by Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William.

2. She became the first woman in the royal family who delivered babies outside the palace.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/East News, RADCLIFFE / bauergriffinonline.com / East News

The female members of the British royal family used to deliver their babies at home where all the necessary facilities for childbirth had been arranged. Elizabeth II did the same, but Princess Diana preferred to give birth to both of her children in a hospital, breaking the tradition. The Duchess of Cambridge decided to follow the example of her mother-in-law and gave birth to all 3 of her children in the same hospital where Princess Diana delivered her sons. By the way, Catherine has left the hospital twice wearing dresses that closely resembled Diana’s ’hospital-check-out’ dresses.

3. Diana had her own opinion on how to raise her children.

AFP / EAST NEWS, AP/East News

Earlier, spending too much time with children wasn’t acceptable in royal families, not to mention taking them abroad. For example, when Prince Charles was 2 years old, he was left with his grandparents, while his parents Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip left for Malta. The Queen traveled around the world a lot and rarely took her children with her. Additionally, expressing parental feelings in public was also unacceptable.

Princess Diana deviated from these formalities and raised her children in a different way. She was against long separations, and that’s why little William and Harry traveled together with their parents when they were performing their duties in other countries. When talking to her children, Lady Di usually squatted so that she could see their eyes. She wasn’t afraid to express her warm, motherly feelings in public and was constantly hugging and squeezing her children despite the fact that this was considered inappropriate in the royal family.

Another unique thing — previously, heirs to the throne used to receive a home education before formal schooling. For example, Prince Charles was taught by a nursery-governess from the age of 5 to 8, but Princess Diana decided to arrange things differently. William and Harry became the first heirs to the throne to attend kindergarten.

Princess Diana tried to make her kids’ childhood normal — she would ride carousels with them, allow them to wear jeans and T-shirts, and even use public transportation together with the boys. When her sons grew up, she would take them to different shelters and hospitals so that they could see what life outside the palace was like. And her children responded to her with the same warm feelings. They say the relationship she had with her boys was much stronger than the relationship they had with their father, Prince Charles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/East News, AFP / EAST NEWS

All these habits she imposed while raising her children were adopted by Prince William and despite being busy and taking many trips, he spends a lot of time with his children. William and Catherine travel often with their children, they attend kindergarten, and William often takes them there by himself. By the way, earlier the communication of royal grandchildren and their non-royal grandparents wasn’t that acceptable but William changed this tradition and approves of the communication between his children and Catherine’s parents.

4. Diana was very open with “regular” people.

Princess Diana’s name is directly associated with charity. She was not the only one who visited hospitals and did humanitarian work, but she was the only one who did it with extreme sincerity and openness. That’s why the public called her the “People’s Princess.”

She would hug HIV-infected people when there were still many fears regarding the safety of this action, she visited sick people in a leper colony. She fought for the prohibition of anti-personnel mines, and helped homeless people and the elderly. Diana quickly overshadowed Prince Charles, people adored her, and she became a symbol and an icon of her generation. She had a real gift for compassion: no other royal person has ever been so close and relatable to simple people.

Getting back to the topic of contact — according to protocol, it’s forbidden to touch members of the royal family but Princess Diana often broke this rule and hugged children and sick people. Prince William follows the example of his mother — he and the Duchess of Cambridge dedicate a lot of their time to charity and often hug and hold the hands of children, patients in hospitals, and elderly people, and even sometimes agree to take a selfie.

5. She wasn’t afraid to reveal her feelings.

The press pursued Princess Diana everywhere. The paparazzi watched her every step and every gesture. Despite this fact, Lady Di was always very sincere with journalists — sometimes even too much. In 1995, she secretly gave an interview where she confessed to having some difficulties in her relationship with her husband. Soon after this, they got divorced.

Unfortunately, their marriage could never have been called happy. Princess Diana wasn’t shy when talking about her problems and sharing her joy and emotions, which was quite unusual for royal family members at that time. Her openness and sincerity were probably the reasons why simple people loved her so much.

Princess Diana’s legacy of openness lives on today: William and Kate publish photos of their children on their official Instagram account and gladly give interviews. It probably wouldn’t have been the other way around in this epoch of digital technology, but we never know whether this openness would have been accepted if Princess Diana hadn’t paved the way.

How did these actions eventually affect the monarchy?

ASSOCIATED PRESS/East News

Princess Diana influenced the monarchy greatly without even realizing it. She said, “I am following my heart, not my head. However, it often causes trouble. But there should be somebody who will be closer to people, love them, and show this love to them.” The Queen and her associates learned an important lesson: the existence of the monarchy in the UK totally depends on public opinion.

The royal family has become more open. In the past, it was inconceivable to imagine that the Queen would jump from a helicopter together with James Bond at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. Celebrations are no longer held in closed ceremonial halls where someone could only get in by invitation. Instead, they are held in front of the palace where all Londoners are welcomed.

Diana’s breaking of the protocol became the starting point of a new era for the monarch family which had to change, and become more simple and relatable. The princess showed the whole world that the royal family members are not unreachable symbols of perfection — they’re people as well, with their own joys and sorrows. Diana became the bridge, making her legacy to acquaint and forever transform both worlds.

Which rules that Princess Diana broke do you find the most daring? Why? Please tell us about it in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in July 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit AFP / EAST NEWS, AP/East News
Bright Side/People/5 Rules of the Royal Family That Princess Diana Changed for Good
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