Princess Diana is undeniably one of the biggest icons of our time. The Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer, was known as the “People’s Princess” and there’s a good reason for that — she was unlike any Royal before her, and she showed who she truly was in everything she did. Whether it was her humanitarian work or her motherly acts, the public loved how kind and personable she was. But that doesn’t mean her every move was well-received — by her fellow Royal family members, or by members of the media.
In fact, it’s almost impossible to discuss Princess Diana without discussing the media treatment that went on to define her life in the royal eye, all the way up to her 1997 death after being chased by paparazzi through the streets of Paris. Hounded by paparazzi, Diana had virtually no privacy from the moment she began seeing Prince Charles — the tabloids couldn’t get enough of the charismatic young ingénue here to reinvigorate the royal family. But with their fascination came a steep price: for every article that praised her charm and grace, there were a handful of others that picked apart her deviations from royal norms and anything else they might be able to sell as “scandal,” treatment that only intensified after her ultimate divorce from Charles.
Wore a dress that showed her shoulders? Scandalous. Wanted her kids to go to school outside the Palace? Scandalous. You get the idea. Diana was a free spirit, a fiercely loving mother, and determined to make the choices for herself, her family, and the world around her that she felt were right, whether or not they complied with palace norms — and that led to a lot of headlines making Diana out to be a traitor, an embarrassment, or a fake (headlines we’d all see iterations of referring to Meghan Markle just a few decades later).
While Meghan is publicly waging war against the tabloids that treated her unfairly (and making impressive headway in those legal battles), Diana’s struggle against the media that maligned her was largely behind closed doors. Knowing what we know about the toll that these media campaigns can take, let’s take a look back at all the most outrageous moments that the media dubbed a “scandal” during Princess Diana’s life.
A version of this article was previously published in December 2021.