Icons / October 2017

Princess Diana: The Royal Rebel

The most maverick of rebellious royals, Princess Diana changed what it meant to be a member of Britain’s most famous family, tearing up the rulebook and becoming a cultural icon in the process.

The Princess of Wales wearing a Catherine Walker dress in Devon, September 1990. Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images.

Monaco’s Grimaldi family has dominated newspaper headlines and gossip columns for decades, Morocco’s ‘Banished Prince’ Moulay Hicham published an exposé on his own family and France’s Marie Antoinette refused a necklace worth $15million because she didn’t want to wear jewellery designed for another woman. Evidently, rebellious royals aren’t an exclusively British export, but Britain’s royal family tree does have a branch or two that has uprooted tradition, broken new ground and made them some of the world’s best-loved hellraisers.

But none has had quite the impact as that of the People’s Princess, Dynasty Di or, as her friends and family knew her, Diana Spencer. The most maverick of almost-monarchs, the late Princess Diana changed what it meant to be a royal, setting new precedents for her sons and grandchildren and tearing up a rule book that was penned generations before, page by archaic page.

When Diana was first introduced to the public, she was mistaken as shy and introverted, and people projected fantasies of the blushing bride onto this young woman from Sandringham. But this ideology began to unravel around the time she made the decision to remove the word ‘obey’ from her wedding vows. Her demure demeanour disguised a woman in possession of extraordinary strength and sense of purpose, seen again when she had children. Breaking from royal protocol, she gave birth to both William and Harry in a hospital, sent them to public school and provided hands-on parenting with lioness-like protection. “I don’t play by a rule book, I do things different”, she admitted in an interview with Martin Bashir, in one of the most-watched and most-quoted BBC programmes of all time.

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Anna Prendergast

Anna is a freelance writer and former staffer at The Rake. She is passionate about travel, well made clothes and homemade chocolate chip cookies.