On August 31, 1997, the entire world mourned the passing of Princess Diana. Though she never found her happily-ever-after with Prince Charles (the couple divorced in 1996, just a year before her death), Diana remains an icon of strength and independence to women around the world. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the People's Princess.
1. Princess Diana worked at a nursery school.
In 2015, Prince George began attending the Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk, England, continuing what has become a bit of a tradition with the current royal family. At Princess Diana's insistence, both William and Harry attended Montessori schools. Before she became a princess, Diana worked as a nursery assistant at the Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico, yet another school that embraces the Montessori curriculum.
2. Princess Diana wanted to be a ballerina.
When Diana's height topped out at 5 feet 10 inches, however, she was declared too tall to make it to the professional heights she wanted to reach.
3. Princess Diana's older sister, Sarah, also dated Prince Charles.
Sarah's relationship with Charles was rumored to have ended when she blabbed some details to the press and then proudly showed Charles the resulting newspaper clipping. Charles chastised her and turned his attentions to Diana shortly thereafter. Lady Sarah gave Charles and Diana her blessing; when they announced their engagement, Sarah noted that, "I introduced them. I'm Cupid."
4. Princess Diana's wedding dress was a work of art.
Princess Diana's extravagant wedding dress remains one of the most famous—and copied—dresses in history. Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the ivory dress was made of silk taffeta and antique lace, covered in 10,000 pearls (each one of them hand-sewn) and featured a 25-foot train.
5. Princess Diana was extremely protective of her sons.
Diana was famously protective of her sons and tried very hard to give them a somewhat “normal” upbringing, including taking them to school herself when she could. But what you may not know is that she also liked to occasionally indulge their more boyish whims, even if it meant using her royal status: She once invited Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington to be waiting in the family's private residence when a star-struck William came home from school. "I was probably a 12- or 13-year-old boy who had posters of them all on his wall, and I went bright red and didn’t know quite what to say, and sort of fumbled and I think pretty much fell down the stairs on the way out," William recalled.
6. Princess Diana always sent a thank you note.
Diana was known for sending thank-you notes for the smallest of deeds and doing it nearly immediately. Diana instilled this in her children, too; when a bundle of her correspondence was put up for auction in 2010, it included a thank-you note written by Prince William, reportedly to their chauffeur, Davies: “Thank you for the James Bond video it is brilliant. Thank you. See you soon. With love from William.”
7. Princess Diana had some pretty interesting relatives.
Diana's stepmother, Raine, was the daughter of famous bodice-ripper writer Barbara Cartland. She was a second cousin once-removed to American actor Oliver Platt (they never met). She was also seventh cousins with Humphrey Bogart.
8. Princess Diana loved ABBA.
The princess loved the "Dancing Queen" band. To pay tribute to her late mother-in-law, Kate Middleton—a.k.a. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge—requested some of the Swedish band's biggest hits at her wedding to Prince William.
9. Princess Diana was a major The Rocky Horror Picture Show fan.
Tim Curry once said in an interview that when he met her she thanked him for making the movie, telling him that it "quite completed" her education.
10. Princess Diana is buried on an island at Althorp, her family estate.
In order to maintain privacy, Diana was buried on an island on her family estate, which does not permit visitors. There are 36 oak trees leading to the lake, one for each of her 36 years. In 2016, it was announced that the princess's burial place would get a multi-million dollar facelift. On July 1, 2017, princes William and Harry rededicated the site during a private service on what would have been Diana's 56th birthday.
This story has been updated for 2020.