The Reason Princess Diana’s Relationship With Her Staff Was ‘Taboo’

As the old saying for people who work in the royal household goes: “The best servant is one that is neither seen nor heard.” But that’s not something Princess Diana agreed with. In fact, the Princess of Wales formed a relationship with many of her staffers but this was seen as “taboo” in the eyes of not only other royals but also other employees.

Read on to find out why.

Princess Diana, who had a 'taboo' relationship with her staff, laughing while holding a bouquet of flowers during an official visit
Princess Diana laughing while holding a bouquet of flowers during an official visit | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana ate with the kitchen staff and had a ‘little party’ with others

The documentary Royal Servants goes behind palace walls detailing what it’s like to work for Britian’s most family. But some of Princess Diana’s staffers had a different experience than those who worked for Queen Elizabeth and other royals.

Former chef Darren McGrady spoke about just how different Diana was recalling: “The princess would just come down into the kitchen, just walk down the stairs and say ‘Hi Darren!’ And that was just wonderful, you just looked shocked, whatever you were doing, and stopped what you were doing and looked up and Princess Diana was there.” He also remembered that if she didn’t have company during lunch, she had no problem sitting in the kitchen and eating with the staff. The chef stressed that this was something “the rest of the royals would never do.”

In the late ’80s Paul Burrell and Mark Simpson joined the princess’s staff and she formed a relationship with both of them.

Steve Dennis, a journalist who co-authored a book by Burrell, relayed a story about something they did as Diana’s employees. “Mark Simpson and Paul Burrell trot out of Buckingham Palace and go down one of the side roads to McDonald’s and bring back three Big Macs, some fries, and some coke,” he said. “It’s sneaky and it’s almost like this Pink Panther-esque escapade, tiptoeing down the carpet, knowing they’ll be in huge trouble if found. They drop off this Big Mac and they have this little Big Mac Party. And it was the first time Paul saw how breathtakingly normal, down-to-earth, and genuine the princess was — and how lost she was.”

Photo of Princess Diana standing outside a residence with her butler, Paul Burrell, in 1994
Princess Diana standing outside a residence with her butler, Paul Burrell, in 1994 | Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images

Diana even did her security guard’s laundry

Royal protection officer, Ken Wharfe, also spoke fondly about Diana and how she was nothing like the rest of the royal family.

According to Wharfe, they were so friendly that Diana even offered to wash his shirts when they were staying at her mother’s house in Scotland. “At first, he had brushed it off telling her it would be ridiculous for her to do his laundry, but that she insisted she liked doing it,” He told the Daily Mail (per Express). “The next morning, he came in and she was ironing his shirts.”

Warfe also revealed that talking to his former employers was “like speaking to a friend I’d known for a long time … Everyone had said, ‘You’ll take a long time to understand the royals, they can be quite distant and difficult’ and yet Diana was the complete opposite.”

Royal bodyguard Ken Wharfe and Princess Diana arriving at Windsor Great Park
Royal bodyguard Ken Wharfe and Princess Diana arriving at Windsor Great Park | Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Why others considered Diana’s behavior taboo

While most of Diana’s employees enjoyed working for her, the way she acted with select staffers angered more traditional members of the royal household. It was also seen as breaking protocol since other senior royals didn’t care to speak to or get to know the staff.

“Part of the old brigade just didn’t think it was right that the royals came down to the kitchen,” McGrady admitted, adding, “And then there were the others that were a little bit jealous that someone like Princess Diana would come down and, instead of going to the senior member of staff, she would look out for the friendly faces that she knew.”

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