Princess Diana Showed Her Respect for Queen Elizabeth With a Surprising Sacrifice

Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ marriage might have failed, but Diana’s respect for Queen Elizabeth was evident and never wavered, despite the family tensions. One example of that was shared in the 1992 Andrew Morton book Diana: Her True Story, in which Diana explained how important it was to conduct herself at a level that honored the queen.

Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, 7th March 1981
Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth II | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Princess Diana showed her respect in a surprising way

Morton shared one particular sacrifice Diana made as a nod that she would never want to let down the queen. The author explained how Diana was to attend an event on a hot day and declined using a fan to cool herself because the queen wouldn’t be using one.

“While Diana finds the monarchy as presently organized as a crumbling institution she has a deep respect for the manner in which the queen has conducted herself for the last forty years,” Morton wrote.

He continued, “Indeed, much as she would like to leave her husband, Diana has emphasized to her: ‘I will never let you down.’”

That loyalty came shining through when Diana pointed out how she couldn’t possibly fan herself that hot day. “Before she attended a garden party on a stifling July afternoon, a friend offered Diana a fan to take with her,” Morton shared in his book.

“She refused, saying: ‘I can’t do that,” he continued. “‘My mother-in-law is going to be standing there with her handbag, gloves, stockings and shoes.’ It was a sentiment expressed in admiring tones for the Sovereign’s complete self-control in every circumstance, however trying.”

They didn’t always see eye to eye

Despite that example of a sacrifice to show her respect, Diana and Queen Elizabeth weren’t always on the same page.

In the documentary Diana: In Her Own Words, she claimed that she went “sobbing” to the queen for assistance in 1986 because she thought her marriage to Prince Charles was “loveless.” The queen didn’t respond in quite the way she had hoped, however.

“I went to the top lady and said: ‘I don’t know what I should do.’ She said: ‘I don’t know what you should do.’ And that was it. That was ‘help,’” she explained.

The queen called Diana ‘exceptional and gifted’

Despite any family friction, Queen Elizabeth did share some heartfelt sentiments about Diana after her tragic death in 1997.

“I want to pay tribute to Diana myself,” the queen shared during her address to the nation. “She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and in bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”

She added, “I admired and respected her — for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys.”

In a letter the queen wrote six days after Diana’s death, she noted, “It was indeed dreadfully sad, and she is a huge loss to the country. But the public reaction to her death, and the service in the Abbey, seem to have united people round the world in a rather inspiring way.”