Princess Diana was a rebel in the palace. And, the area of her life where she showed her rebellious streak the most, was as a mother. She disregarded traditional rules and did as she pleased when it came to her children. She even brought them into the world in a way that was considered taboo for royals. And, she raised them with the same disregard for royal traditions. “But, someone’s got to go out there and love people and show it.” Princess Diana might have been known as the ‘People’s Princess’, but if you look at her mothering record she really should have been known as the ‘Rebel Princess’.
“I don’t go by a rule because I lead from the heart, not the head.”
Before, Diana, there was a certain way that Princesses were expected to behave and raise their children. Diana was having none of it and often times strayed from these traditions. It’s part of the reason that she was so remarkable. Her child-rearing tactics were considered shocking by British Royal standards and perfect paparazzi food to send shock waves around the world. See how well you remember the ‘Rebel Princess’ and can guess all of the things that she did as a mom that probably made the Queen faint once… or twice.
It might not seem like such a big deal to give birth to your first child at a hospital. In fact, one might even say that it’s perfectly normal to go the hospital during contractions and pop out with a healthy baby boy. Yet, if your son is the heir to the British throne and the year is 1982, then you’re a rebel. When Princess Diana chose St. Mary’s Paddington for the birth of England’s future heir, it was considered rebellious. Yet, it didn’t seem to phase the ‘People’s Princess’ as she gave birth to not only William in 1982, but also Harry in 1984.
At the time royal babies were expected to be born at Buckingham Palace.
It was where Prince Charles was born and his siblings were born. Yet, leave it to Diana to rebel and try to be ‘normal’.
Another ‘shocking’ fact about Princess Diana’s parenting was that she chose her sons’ names. The fact is that their names would have usually been handed down from a father or a late family member. Diana revealed that Charles wanted his sons to be named Albert and Arthur. Thankfully, Diana didn’t really like either name. Yet, she allowed Charles’s name choice to be their sons’ middle names. So, in the end, Diana won and her sons were named William Arthur Philip Louis and Henry Charles Albert David. Although, upon their coronation, the boys can choose any name that they want. That means that when he becomes crowned king, William can be called King Arthur if he wishes. Although, that might confuse the rest of the world who have been referring to him as William over the last thirty-six years.
Leave it to rebellious Diana to decide to breastfeed her children for several months. She is largely credited with being the first royal to do so. Before her, the royal family wasn’t known for being warm and fuzzy. Even when it came to their children, the royal family still seemed cold. Queen Victoria who reigned in the 1800s had nine children and considered babies to be ugly and breastfeeding disgusting.
Diana broke this tradition of scoffing at raising children, by breastfeeding her sons and welcoming them into her bed for morning cuddles.
Diana loved children and used breastfeeding as a way to bond with her new babies. We doubt that she would have even turned her nose up at changing their diapers. In fact, we bet that she did it with a smile.
Diana was known for breaking royal protocol even when she left the country. After William's birth, when the young princess had to spend several months abroad touring the Commonwealth, Diana once again did it her way. Normally, a royal mother would leave her babies at the palace with their nannies. Diana opted against that. She chose to bring nine-month-old old William with her on her official trip to Australia. It was unprecedented, to say the least, but the public loved how she broke away from royal traditions. Daisy Goodwin, the author of the ‘My Last Duchess’, stated, “It was brilliant, because we all really warmed to her. Because, no woman wants to leave her baby, and that was what Diana made so lovable- that she always absolutely adored her children.”
Princess Diana was once a nanny herself for which she was paid $5 per hour. While she had hoped to do it all herself, the pressures of her day-to-day life as one of the most photographed women in the world with one of the most demanding travel schedules proved to be too much. So, the Princess hired a nanny. The woman, Jessie Webb, looked after William and Harry in the 90s.
Yet, she was let go over Diana’s jealous feelings that the nanny was stealing her children’s love.
Yet, that didn’t stop William from having Miss. Webb as a guest of honor at his 21st birthday party and his wedding. Now, at age 71, Miss. Webb has come out of retirement to be a nanny for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
It would have been so easy for Diana to sleep in and let her staff do the busy work. It would have saved her from being hounded by the press and a would have given her a chance to enjoy a quiet morning. Yet, Diana loved every moment with her boys and wanted to be there for the mornings that they might feel a little shy. The boys went to Wetherby Preparatory School in Notting Hill, London. Diana would walk the boys to and from school every day. She was a very hands-on mom which was odd considering that she was a real-life princess! Yet, she started a tradition. Prince George started his first day of school with his father by his side dropping him off just like Princess Diana did many years ago.
When Princess Diana and Prince Charles dropped Prince William off at nursery school, it sent shock waves around the world. It was the first time that a British Royal went to a nursery outside of the Palace.
Apparently, before Diana, British Royals were born and bred behind the Palace walls with few chances to leave.
Diana didn’t want that for her boys and was adamant that they attend a nursery just like everyone else. Yet, she didn’t just choose any school to start her sons’ educational experience. She chose a Montessori school. After all, she was once a nursery assistant at a Montessori school. These types of schools focus on creativity, independence, social development, and having children develop at their own pace.
Princess Diana definitely get’s a few extra ‘mom’ points for this one. When she found out that Prince William had a secret celebrity crush, she kindly invited her for tea. It just turns out that his crush was a model. Yet, she wasn’t just any model. She was the most popular model of the day; Cindy Crawford. “Princess Diana had somehow got the number to my office and called herself to ask for me. We finally connected and she asked if the next time I was in London if I would come by for tea. I think Prince Williams was just starting to notice models and she thought it would be a cute surprise for him and Prince Harry,” Crawford later wrote of the experience. She also stated that she was nervous, but that the Princess was kind and talking to her was like talking to your best friend.
Fans who wished Princess Charlotte happy birthday were greeted with thank you cards. It’s a tradition that was instilled in her sons by their mother. She taught the boys to send thank you cards. Naturally, the thousands of fans who write William at the Royal Palace today, receive carefully typed cards that are printed, filed, and shipped by their staff.
Yet, when Diana was recovering from her pregnancy, she wrote 24,000 thank you notes.
And, she taught her boys how to write personalized thank you notes as well. Diana was adamant that her sons would have good manners. So, teaching them to take the time to properly thank people was a part of their upbringing.
Diana grew up in a country estate. She loved animals and even had a pony all to herself during her childhood. Although, she was not an avid rider. Even so, it was Diana who ensured that her sons knew how to ride horses and signed them up for lessons at an early age. To build her own confidence, Diana signed herself up for lessons as well. Their teacher was Capt. James Hewitt. Many have thought that it was Prince Charles who taught the boys how to ride considering that he was an avid polo player. Yet, in fact, it was their mother who oversaw their education and extracurricular activities. It paid off as the boys still play polo even in their later years.
The world loved Diana because there wasn’t anything pretentious about her. She was a Princess, but first and foremost she was a mom. She did all of the typical mom stuff like taking her boys to the playground and dropping them off at school. She also did the fun mom stuff too like getting messy with her kids. During an outing at the beach, she let her two boys, niece, and nephew bury her in the sand.
The Princess smiled on as her sons used their shovels to pile sand onto their mom.
It wasn’t exactly the most ‘royal’ looking photoshoot, and it's photos like this that made us love Diana so much. She proved that she was just like the rest of us and had to take extra long showers to get all of the sand out of her hair.
The Royal family is known for their love of jigsaw puzzles. The Queen is known for playing her favorite puzzles with her family during Christmas evening. No word on whether or not any of these puzzles have their faces on them. Although, when the family has spare time their staff has revealed that’s a time when they whip out the puzzle for the entire family to play. It was a tradition that Diana was equally enthusiastic about. She taught her sons how to do puzzles. It was an activity used to bring the royal family together and a way for Diana to have fun spending time with her boys. It’s another way that the ‘People’s Princess’ proved that she was just like the rest of us. She might have had a very public life, but at the end of the day, she unwound like every other family. Diana didn’t spare any expense when it came to her time to give her boys the best childhood that she could.
You can almost hear Diana saying, “Make sure that you spelled that correctly.” Okay, so she’d probably have a ‘sweetheart’ at the end of that sentence. Diana was probably just like most moms, thinking that she’d left all those algorithms and dates outlining Napoleon’s timeline behind her. Yet, just like most moms, she brushed up on her skills to help her sons out with homework. Not only did Diana take her children to and from school, but the Princess also double-checked their homework to ensure that it was done correctly.
She was a hands-on mom who took her children’s education very seriously.
She was probably the type of mom who helped them with science projects and took them out for ice cream when they got straight As on their report card.
William was three-years-old when he began playing the piano. There is even a video floating around the internet of him playing with his one-year-old baby brother, Harry. Sure, his skills weren’t ‘fine tuned’, but it’s sweet that Diana wanted to share her love of music with her boys. She taught them to play at Kensington Palace. The video of the family of four huddled around the piano mostly includes the boys being mischievous and playing around. Diana seems to love it, laughing on the floor while Harry redoes her makeup. The boys bang on the keys and seem to enjoy playing the piano more as a family bonding activity. Obviously, neither Prince sought out a career as a concert pianist. Although, we doubt that most people mind the video of them playing as it's super adorable.
Diana tried to deter the boys from having negative emotions towards the paparazzi. She taught her boys that they would always have people who would want to photograph them and she wanted them to get along with them. In the end, that didn’t prove to be the case. “I sadly remember most of the time she ever cried about anything was to do with press intrusion. Harry and I, we had to live through that.” William has said of his mother. In a candid TV interview, he candidly spoke about how furious he was at the press.
Apparently, photographers hounded the princess and often times, harassed her to get a reaction from her.
On a skiing holiday, the eleven-year-old watched as photographers were restrained while hasseling the royal family.
Forget foie gras and ice cream with gold flakes. Princess Diana was even down-to-earth about her food choices and loved McDonald's. It was one of her favorite comfort food places. She even taught her boys how to line up at the fast-food restaurant and to politely ask for burgers. It was another one of her ways to help live a ‘normal’ life. It also showed off her fun personality. William and Harry expressed, that she “was a total kid, through and through.” She even put Starbursts in their football socks. So, just what did the boys get at McDonald's? Why a Big Mac of course with an order of fries. The Princess would take the boys to McDonald's for a late night dinner before they went back home to watch ‘Blind Date’.
Princess Diana wanted her sons to know just how lucky they actually were. And, she definitely considered it luck that they were born into a wealthy and noble family. So, when William was twelve and Harry was ten, Diana took the boys to a homeless shelter. Considering the fact that homeless shelters were Diana’s first charitable priority after she became a princess, it makes perfect sense that she would take her boys on an outing with her.
She was known for her warmth towards everyone she met and never discriminated.
To continue his mother’s work and legacy, Wiliams has even revisited the same shelter that his mother took him to as a child. The young prince also made headlines when he slept on the streets to literally put himself in other people's shoes.
Before Diana, childrearing wasn’t really something that royals would do. It certainly wasn’t the Princess’s job. There were nannies, governesses, and tutors for that. In fact, many royal children had lonely childhoods. Diana was adamant that that would not be her sons' lifestyle. She chose to be involved in her children’s lives. While she did have royal duties that flew her around the world and away from her sons, Diana still found time to ensure that she was a full-time mom when she was home. She even tried to make her schedule match her boys’ schedules. As often as she could, she took her sons to school, helped them with homework, and took them to outings at McDonald's for dinner. During the summer holidays, she even took them to Disney and taught them to ride bicycles.
“She would just engulf you and squeeze you tight as possible,” Harry said about his mom’s hug. It was during the HBO documentary ‘Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy’ that Harry and William allowed the cameras to hear their story about Princess Diana. The two brothers shared all of the joy and love that their mother gave them and also all of the anger and pain over learning about her death.
While both brothers were polite and reserved, they allowed their emotions to show.
It was something that they learned from their mother. “I give thanks that I was lucky enough to be her son and know her for the 15 years that I did. She set us up really well. She gave us the right tools, and has prepared us well for life,” William said of his mother.
As the story goes, Diana once took her boys to a local pub. William noticed that they were being treated differently (better) than everyone else. “Mom, are we special?” The young prince asked. “Certainly, not! And, don’t you ever think that you’re more special than anyone else,” Diana responded. For a woman who became a mother when she was just twenty, Diana proved to have a lot of wisdom. She understood that her sons could easily grow up with inflated egos as the heir to the English throne. So, she worked hard to keep them grounded and humble. Obviously, she loved her boys and made them feel special, but she didn’t allow them to think that they were more special than any other Williams or Harrys in the world. She wanted them to know that they were just like everyone else.
Diana desperately wanted her boys to have a normal life outside of the Buckingham Palace. So, for her, that included having fun like normal boys their age. The young mom would sneak her sons into movie theatres to experience blockbuster films just like the rest of us. They probably had to walk into the movie late and sit in the back to avoid camera lenses, but for a woman who caused crowds and hoards of photographers everywhere she went, it was a pretty awesome feat.
In their HBO Documentary, ‘Diana Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy’, Harry recalls these experiences of going to the movie theatre.
His mom could have easily rented out the theatre or watched movies from the palace. Instead, she thought it was more fun to be normal.
References: TheGuardian.com, DailyMail.co.uk, Eonline.com, PopSugar.com