What Was Princess Diana Like as a Child?

Poised, outgoing, and elegant, Princess Diana was truly the star of the British Royal Family until her tragic death in 1997. The princess was just 19 when she stepped into the spotlight as Prince Charles’ bride, and even then, Lady Diana Spencer had an air of royalty about her. A young mother to two adorable boys, Prince William, and Prince Harry, and the wife of the future King of England, Princess Diana seemed to be living a real-life fairytale.

However, as we all know, fairytales aren’t always what they seem. Underneath the glittering tiaras, hugs, and smiles was a lonely woman who was suffering in her ailing marriage and feeling stifled under the rules and restrictions of the royal family. According to Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: In Pursuit of Love which was released in 2004, “To the outside world [Princess Diana] was viewed as one of the beautiful people – she seemed to have it all. However, inside Diana felt like an “ugly duckling,” or, as she put it her own words at one time, “lower than a Bosnian peasant.”

Sadly, Princess Diana’s feelings about herself steemed from her unstable childhood.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Princess Diana | EPA/AFP/Getty Images

Constant chaos

Just before her death, Princess Diana spoke with Morton for his book, Diana: Her True Story. She recalled how she often felt as a child. She said, “I always felt very different from everyone else, very detached. I knew I was going somewhere different but had no idea where.” The princess grew up on under the strain of her parents cracking marriage. When her mother, Frances Spencer gave birth to her in 1960, both of her parents were disappointed to have another girl.

The Spencers were divorced by 1967, and Lady Spencer and her siblings were left with their father. By 1970, her father sent her away to Riddlesworth Hall, a boarding school. She was devastated to be sent away from her family. To fill the void, the princess developed the beginnings of what would become an eating disorder and a deep desire to be loved. When she met Prince Charles in 1980, she’s hoped she would have a fairytale ending. Sadly that did not happen.

A wild streak

Though her childhood wasn’t idyllic, Princess Diana did have some good times, especially with her younger brother, Charles. She never cared for her nannies, so the pair teamed up to terrorize them.  She told Morton that they would often throw the nanny’s clothes out of the window. Since nothing was ever explained to the littlest Spencers about their parents’ divorce, they believed the nannies were a threat to their mother.

Though the Princess of Wales’ father, John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, was strict, he was sure to teach his daughter one of the most valuable lessons of her life.  She recalled him telling her, “Treat everyone as an individual, and never throw your weight around.” Growing up, she watched her father treat every from the lowest staff member on the totem pole to the highest reigning official with the utmost respect.

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