It’s been almost 20 years since Princess Diana tragically died in a car accident in Paris. The much-loved “People’s Princess” — who was only 36 at the time of her death — would have turned 56 on July 1.
But despite the fact that most millennials would barely have any real life memory of Diana, that hasn’t stopped her having an impact on them in a pretty major way.
A recent poll revealed that Princess Diana is the royal most Skype users (i.e. millennials) would like to interact with.
The late princess secured 13% of the overall vote, while her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge and the current popular royal-du-jour, scraped into seventh with just 4% naming her.
A further poll named Diana as the dead person that Britons would most love to meet, coming second only to Jesus Christ.
So what is it about a woman for whom many would have only fleeting memories or anecdotal tales recited by older relatives?
To mark the twentieth anniversary of Diana’s death, we’ve gathered together ten reasons one amazing woman has managed to keep an entire generation simultaneously intrigued and obsessed.
She may have been taken too young, but for many Diana Princess of Wales was total #lifegoals.
She was more popular than Kate
300 million of us came to a standstill in April 2011 to watch Kate Middleton waft up the aisle to marry her prince, but that’s a mere drop in the ocean compared to the 750 million people who tuned in to see Princess Diana wed the Prince of Wales in 1981 in that frothy 80s style wedding frock. Amazing!
She was a style icon
Forget the “Kate effect” which sees sales of clothes worn by the Duchess of Cambridge sell out in seconds; Diana Princess of Wales was the original royal style icon.
From colour pop dresses to huge eighties puff sleeves, throughout the two decades she was in the spotlight, Diana donned an amazing array of clothing designs and pushed the boundaries in ways the Duchess of Cambridge would never dream. From strapless, knee-skimming dresses to cleavage-enhancing necklines, oversized bomber jackets to ankle-skimming pedal pushers, Diana’s royal style look book continues to reign supreme.
So much so that her fashion has become the centre point of numerous fashion exhibitions – including the stunning ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’: a collection of 25 iconic outfits worn by the Princess which is currently on show at Kensington Palace, London.
Millennial label of choice ASOS was so in awe of her iconic style that they launched a capsule collection inspired by Diana’s wardrobe.
She understood the power of fashion
Like her daughter-in-law Kate, Diana understood the statement careful fashion choices could convey. Her outfits for foreign tours were always carefully diplomatic. In Japan in 1986, she carefully chose a red polka dot dress to represent the country’s rising sun motif, while in Pakistan she wore green, which is considered a colour of respect.
She was the cutest mum
Whether she was getting drenched on a water ride at a theme park, kicking off her shoes to take part in the mums’ race at sports day, or trying not to react when a cheeky Prince Harry poked his tongue out at an official photocall, when she was hanging out with sons William and Harry, Diana was literally ALL mums and we absolutely loved her for it.
She gave a good quote
While there’s little doubt her style, hands-on parenting approach and charity work will long be remembered, Diana fans also praise the late princess for her wit and wisdom.
Take this quote of hers, for example: “They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?”
Or the very apt right now: “The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other.”
Wise. Oh so wise.
She was body confident
Whether it was posing on a yacht or frolicking in the sea, the many pictures of Diana in a swimsuit or bikini reveal how at ease she was with her body. And that body confidence is something we should all try to channel.
She gave a damn
Princess Diana may have captured the world’s attention as style trendsetter, but she also became a prominent philanthropic force and becoming patron of over 100 charities. From AIDS charities to raising awareness about land mines, youth organisations, the homeless and helping addicts, Diana worked tirelessly on behalf of charities around the world, using her fame to raise awareness of humanitarian issues.
She once described her work in a hospital like this: “[I spend] time with patients holding their hands and talking to them. Some of them will live and some will die, but they all need to be loved while they are here. I try to be there for them.”
She opened up about her problems
There’s totally a reason she was and still is often referred to as Princess Di because the more familiar nickname hinted at the fact she was basically everyone’s friend. Opening up about her battles with depression, self-harm and bulimia, made her totally relatable and even though she often struggled with the attention being a public figure brought, she wasn’t afraid to address it.
“I am finding it very difficult to cope with the pressures of being Princess of Wales, but I am learning to cope with it,” she once openly admitted.
Her heart-wrenching honesty is often considered to be one of the reasons her sons and daughter-in-law are so passionate about mental health.
She kept it real
Diana knew being in the public eye didn’t automatically equal perfection and she was happy to acknowledge that. One of the things people love about her is the way she dealt with the relationship struggles that many millennials are currently experiencing.
In one revealing BBC interview, she openly addressed Prince Charles’s long-time relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles: “A woman’s instinct is a very good one; obviously I had knowledge of it from people who minded and cared about our marriage … There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Handling a break-up like a boss!
She changed the face of the monarchy
BD (Before Diana), the monarchy was perceived to be somewhat stuffy. But through her charity work, Diana highlighted how the royal family, could actually form relationships with the public.
In her now famous ‘Panorama’ interview in 1995, she said: “I would like a monarchy that has more contact with its people.”
This statement has now become something of a mission statement for her and appears to be something her sons and daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge are keen to continue.
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