The anniversary of Diana’s divorce is tomorrow and the anniversary of her tragic death is on Monday, August 31. It is during this sad time that many will want to look back at Diana’s life and acknowledge the joy and laughter, as much as the sadness. For example, the Princess of Wales enjoyed risque jokes that some in the establishment might have deemed inappropriate to say at all, let along in front of children.
Yet, Diana shared these with her young sons, who were only 12 and 15 when she died.
Former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe recalled Diana’s cheeky tendencies.
He said last year: “She had risque exchanges with both boys at a young age, they shared her love of risque jokes.
“She would hear jokes that were borderline of infants and say to William, no you’re too young for that.”
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Princess Diana had “risque exchanges” with her sons William and Harry
Princess Diana loved nothing more than having a giggle with her boys
Diana was famous among those she knew for cracking jokes and for playing practical jokes on friends and family.
When she and Sarah Ferguson ‒ affectionately known as Fergie ‒ got together, they were particularly mischievous, for example on Fergie’s hen night when they got picked up by a police van.
Fergie later said what she missed most about Diana was her laugh.
Mr Wharfe went on to tell the Daily Mail that Diana treated many members of staff like they were family.
Princess Diana loved being a more ‘hands on’ mum
While the Royal Family traditionally has a very structured hierarchy and insists that no one should step out of line, Diana frequently blurred these lines herself.
Her former bodyguard said: “Her role within Kensington Palace wasn’t kept to her drawing room and her private apartments.
“The whole of the Palace staff, from the butler to the chef to the gardner, were all part of this family that Diana thought was important for her children’s life, so they played a part in the upbringing of her children. I think that paid off.”
This meant Diana treated royal bodyguards, private secretaries, footmen, ladies-in-waiting and many other people as friends or family, rather than simply servants or members of her staff.
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Princess Diana with ber royal protection officer Ken Wharfe
This allowed William and Harry to grow up interacting with people from all sorts of different backgrounds.
However, Diana had been like this from the beginning, before even her sons were born.
In the documentary ‘Royal Servants’, uploaded to YouTube in 2011, it was revealed Diana used to “cross invisible lines” that separated royalty and servants.
Her personal chef Darren McGrady recalled how she used to come down to the kitchens to gossip, adding that this did not go down well with the more traditional royals and staff.
Mr McGrady told the documentary: “Part of the old brigade didn’t think it was right that the royals came down to the kitchen.
“And then there were 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.”
When Diana first moved to Buckingham Palace, she was served by two relatively young butlers, Paul Burrell and Mark Simpson.
She instantly hit up a relationship with them and she asked them to go on a special errand for her in the weeks before her wedding.
Former royal chef Darren McGrady
Steve Dennis, a journalist who co-authored a book by Mr Burrell, said: “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.
“It’s sneaky and it’s almost like this Pink Panther-esqe escape, 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.”
Mr Burrell went on to become a close confidant of the princess, who she sometimes went to for advice, bypassing her private secretary Patrick Jephson.
After she and Charles separated, she set up an “emotional court” at Kensington Palace, where seniority was based on how much she liked you, rather than the traditional hierarchy.