Diana believed in breaking the rules, especially when it came to the royal
family. The royal courtiers who insisted she was the
perfect bride for the future king, Prince Charles, thought they could mold
her into an obedient wife who would do his bidding. But they underestimated the
Princess of Wales.
Diana broke protocol all the time, insisting that her two sons attend a regular school rather than enlisting tutors, taking on parenting responsibilities rather than leaving it to the nannies, and making sure William and Harry had a taste of McDonald’s fast food.
But one of the places Diana thrived best was in breaking down class barriers that often cause royal family members to act like they’re better than everyone else.
RELATED: Why Princess Diana Was Seen as ‘a Problem’ to the Royal Family
Princess Diana treated staff members as people
In royal life, the hundreds of staff employed by the crown
are meant to be neither seen nor heard. The most successful maids, footmen,
cooks, and dressers blend quietly into the background of palace life, keep
their mouths shut, and attend to every need. But Princess Diana treated the people
she employed as individuals. She even hung out with them.
It was a massive breach in protocol for a royal to interact with
the staff the way Diana did. But apparently, she didn’t care.
One staffer recalls how Diana always visited in the kitchen
The Princess of Wales may have been a member of the
aristocracy, but she was also friendly and kind. Royal chef Darren McGrady
recalled how Diana acted so differently from the other standoffish royal family
He said: “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.”
Some people didn’t want Diana getting close to the staff
But not everyone was pleased to see Diana getting so close to the
hired help. “Part of the old brigade just didn’t think it was right that the
royals came down to the kitchen,” McGrady continued.
There was also rivalry among staffers who felt they deserved more
attention than others. “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 had some royal staffers run secret errands
Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell told a funny anecdote about
sneaking in some fast food. “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,” journalist Steve Dennis 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.”
He continued: “And it was the first time Paul saw how breathtakingly
normal, down-to-earth and genuine the princess was ‒ and how lost she was.”
Princess Diana didn’t care about protocol
Despite being a future queen, the Princess of Wales saw herself as equal to the people who were working for her. Her employees said she crossed invisible lines drawn between themselves and the royal family. But they loved her for it.
“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 protection officer Ken Wharfe said.