The Most Shocking Ways Princess Diana Changed the Royal Family for Good

Princess Diana
Princess Diana played a key role in shaping the British royal family. | Daniel Luna/AFP/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Princess Diana was one of the most beloved members of the royal family. That said, her life as a royal was filled with family drama, controversy, and major shakeups. And through these circumstances, Diana played a key role in shaping the future of the British monarchy.

Curious to know more? From breaking royal family rules to earning the queen’s respect, we share all of the ways Princess Diana shook up the foundation of the royal family and helped shape their future, ahead.

1. She was affectionate

Before Princess Diana, the royal family was hardly affectionate in the public eye. But Diana changed this in the way she played and interacted with her children.

Next: Her family members weren’t the only ones she was affectionate with.

2. She broke down barriers

Princess Diana met with and shook the hands of AIDS patients.
Princess Diana met with and shook the hands of AIDS patients. | ITV News via YouTube

It’s no secret that Diana was queen of breaking down barriers — especially in regard to the ones that surrounded the royal family. She used her public power to break down the walls that the monarchy built to protect themselves and went so far as to hug and shake hands with fans that greeted her on her official engagements.

Now, it wouldn’t be an official engagement without some love from the public. And Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle are no stranger to a handshake and hug.

Next: This TV appearance even shocked Prince William and Prince Harry.

3. She inspired them to have more fun

Diana, Princess of Wales, at a dinner
She loved to have fun. | Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Diana loved to have fun. And, perhaps her free spirit rubbed off on the queen herself. This is especially true for the queen’s cameo at the 2012 London Olympics. The monarch shocked spectators — including her own grandchildren — when she was involved in a playful opening that featured her skydiving into Olympic Stadium with James Bond (Daniel Craig).

Next: Kate Middleton and Princess Diana have this in common.

4. She included her children …

She brought her children on world tours. | Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

Believe it or not, before Diana, it was not normal for a royal figure to include their children in world tours. The princess changed this during her early years of motherhood and now, her own son follows suit. Prince William and Kate Middleton travel with their children regularly.

Next: She unknowingly changed her grandson’s life.

5. … And insisted they fly with their father

Prince Charles and Princess Diana are walking side by side.
She thought it was silly that William, as a direct heir, couldn’t travel with his father. | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In addition, direct heirs never traveled by plane together. But the thought of her young son not being allowed to travel with his father seemed silly to Diana, and she demanded a change. Now, Prince William and Prince George board flights together.

Next: This is not how princesses used to act.

6. She wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves

Princess Diana visiting the mine fields in Angola.
She put herself out there. | Antonio Cotrim/AFP/Getty Images

Although she was a princess, Diana wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. This characteristic stuck out and made her even more loved by the public.

Now, her sons (and their spouses) are deeply involved in causes and occasionally get their hands dirty, too.

Next: The one thing that saved the royal family

7. She created a sense of normalcy

Princess Diana
She seemed relatable. | Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

While it didn’t seem like it at the time, Princess Diana shaped the future of the royal family in the way she raised her sons. Through Prince William and Prince Harry’s upbringing, she created a sense of normalcy that continues to shape the way the two princes live their lives today.

Next: She and the queen have this in common.

8. She was true to herself

Princess Diana in a red dress
She stayed true to what she believed in. | John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

Just because the queen has the power to do pretty much whatever she likes, doesn’t mean Diana didn’t. In her life, Diana empowered herself and even at her most challenging times stayed true to what she believed in.

Next: This one thing modernized the royal family.

9. She modernized motherhood

Kate Middleton and Prince William
Princess Diana helped to modernize motherhood for the royals. | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Another major way the princess changed the royal family? She modernized motherhood by giving birth to her sons at a hospital.

Before Diana, members of the royal family were often born at home in one of their castles or estates. But Diana brought the family up to speed in a more modern approach to maternity and, ultimately, changed this facet of the royal family for good.

Since then, Prince William and Kate Middleton have had two (soon-to-be three) hospital births.

Next: If she didn’t do this, Prince William and Kate Middleton never would have met.

10. She insisted her children go to public school

Kate Middleton Wedding
Prince William might not have met Kate Middleton if his mother hadn’t sent him to school. | Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Princess Diana didn’t just shape the lives of her children by enrolling them in public school, she shaped the lives of her grandchildren, too. If it wasn’t for his public schooling, Prince William may have never fallen in love with Kate Middleton at university.

Next: Prince Harry learned this lesson later in his life.

11. She allowed her emotions to take over

Prince Harry is in a light grey suit.
She inspired Prince Harry to share his emotions. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Princess Diana was a very emotional person, and preached the positive impacts emotions can have to her two children. In doing so, that encouraged Prince Harry to come forward and practice vulnerability with the public in regard to his mother’s death.

Next: Prince Harry inherited this trait.

12. She was honest

Prince Harry is smiling and wearing a suit in a gymnasium.
Prince Harry is also known for being candid. | Joe Giddens-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Another trait Prince Harry may have received from his mother? Her honesty. Harry is known for being candid and honest with the public and we can’t help but think it’s because of who his mother was.

Next: The royal family benefited from this.

13. She even changed societal views of the royal family

Princess Diana helped to normalize the royal family. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In a way, Princess Diana helped change societal views of the royal family. She made them more accessible, more well-liked, and — to some degree — more normal.

Next: It took tragedy for the royal family to learn.

14. Her life and death taught them lasting lessons

Princess Diana in November 1992
She helped the family learn to be more accessible to the public. | Vincent Amalvy/AFP/Getty Images

While her life may have supplied them with the lessons, her death was responsible for teaching her in-laws about compassion, honesty, vulnerability, and so much more.

In her death, the royal family realized just how important it is for them to be more accessible to the public. And — by the looks of it — vowed to be more like Diana.

Next: The shocking way Queen Elizabeth II thanked Diana for the lessons

15. She had the queen’s respect

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II respected Diana. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Lastly, Princess Diana’s life had major impact on the queen — and not just because she is the mother of her grandchildren. At Diana’s funeral, the queen bowed her head to Diana’s coffin, symbolizing her respect and admiration for the late princess.

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