13 times Princess Diana spoke candidly about her complicated life as a royal

Princess diana
Princess Diana revealed that after marrying into the royal family, her ‘personality was taken away.’ Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

“I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. And I knew it,” she once said of her wedding day.
Prince charles kissing princess diana's hand as they stand on the balcony of buckingham palace
Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding day. Tim Graham/ Getty Images.
“I don’t think I was happy,” she added. “I never tried to call it off, in the sense of really doing that, but I think [it was] the worst day of my life.”

The princess shared these thoughts on a recording used by journalist Andrew Morton to write the 1992 biography, “Diana: Her True Story.”

In 2017, some of the tapes aired in the National Geographic documentary “Diana: In Her Own Words,” which was later made available on Netflix and Disney Plus.

“The day I walked down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I felt that my personality was taken away from me, and I was taken over by the royal machine,” she said in a BBC interview.
Princess diana enters the church on her wedding day
Princess Diana on her wedding day. Ron Burton /Mirrorpix/Getty Images
She shared these thoughts during her now-controversial BBC1 “Panorama” interview with Martin Bashir in 1995.

Following the interview, Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, alleged Bashir showed Diana fake documents to persuade her to take part in the interview.

 The BBC apologized in May 2021 after an inquiry found “deceitful” tactics had been used to secure the interview. BBC Director-General Tim Davie said the interview “fell far short” of the company’s standards.

Bashir resigned from his role as the BBC’s religion editor before the inquiry became public, Insider previously reported.

“It took a long time to understand why people were so interested in me,” Princess Diana told Bashir.
Princess diana wearing a pink jacket in front of the paparazzi
Princess Diana leaving the first anti-AIDS bookshop in Paris on November 4, 1992. VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images
“I assumed it was because my husband had done a lot of wonderful work leading up to our marriage and our relationship,” Diana told Bashir. “But then … during the years you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you.”

 

“I don’t want expensive gifts; I don’t want to be bought. I have everything I want. I just want someone to be there for me, to make me feel safe and secure,” she once said.
Princess diana prince charles dancing in melbourne australia
Prince Charles and Princess Diana in Melbourne, Australia, in 1985. Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images
Prince Charles had a tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce after the prince admitted to having an affair.
“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she famously told Bashir of Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
A black and white photo of Princess Diana and Camilla parker bowles
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles competed in 1980. Express Newspapers/Getty Images
Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
“You know, people think that at the end of the day a man is the only answer,” Diana told Bashir of being on her own. “Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me.”
Princess diana wearing red coat and holding flowers while meeting with admirers
Princess Diana meeting admirers. Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
Throughout her short life, Princess Diana was a dedicated humanitarian.
“I remember saying to myself […] ‘You’ve been chosen to this position, so you must adapt to it and stop fighting it.’ And I knew I could do it, if I chose a different angle,” she said.
Princess diana meeting with amputees and land mine victims
Princess Diana in 1997 in Angola. Joao Silva/AP
In the recordings in “Diana: In Her Own Words,” she described the day she decided to use her celebrity for good.
“It’s vital the monarchy keeps in touch with the people – it’s what I try to do,” Princess Diana told Peter Stothard of The Times in 1994.
Princess diana holding an hiv positive baby in san paulo
Princess Diana hugs and plays with an HIV-positive baby at Faban Hostel, San Paulo, on the second day of her visit to Brazil in 1991. Dave Caulkin, File/AP
Diana worked on a number of causes ranging from outreach to those living with HIV and AIDS to the removal of dangerous landmines in war-torn countries, amidst and despite her troubling marriage and complicated relationship with the press.
“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society,” the princess said of her role in the royal family.
Princess Diana wearing blue suit shakes hands with AIDS patient
Princess Diana shaking the hand of an HIV Aids patient in April 1987. John Redman/ AP Images
“It is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny,” she told Bashir.
“I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts, in people’s hearts, but I don’t see myself being the queen of this country,” Princess Diana once said. “I don’t think many people will want me to be queen.”
Princess Diana wearing the Spencer tiara
Princess Diana in the Spencer Tiara. Jim Bourdier/AP Images
In the Bashir interview, Princess Diana went so far as to name the royal family as those who didn’t want her to become queen, saying they saw her as a “non-starter.”

 

“I had bulimia for a number of years. And that’s like a secret disease,” she revealed to Bashir.
Princess diana wearing a camel coat and hat
Princess Diana in November 1982. Georges De Keerle/Getty Images
“You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day — some do it more — and it gives you a feeling of comfort,” she said. “Then you’re disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it all up again. And it’s a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself.”

Princess Diana revealed that her eating disorder was a “symptom of what was going on in [her] marriage.”

“I was crying out for help, but giving the wrong signals, and people were using my bulimia as a coat on a hanger,” she said. “They decided that was the problem — Diana was unstable.”

“I felt compelled to perform. Well, when I say perform, I was compelled to go out and do my engagements and not let people down and support them and love them,” she said of life as a royal.
Princess diana greeting fans wearing a red suit and hat
Princess Diana circa October 1981 wearing a Donald Campbell suit and a John Boyd hat greeting well-wishers. Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
“And, in a way, by being out in public they supported me, although they weren’t aware just how much healing they were giving me, and it carried me through,” she said in the BBC interview.
“I do things differently because I don’t go by a rule book, [and] because I lead from the heart, not the head,” Princess Diana said of why the royal family hadn’t warmed to her.
Princess diana smiling wearing a red coat and red hat
Princess Diana at the Aintree racecourse during the Grand National, Liverpool, UK, on April 3, 1982. Hulton Archive/Getty
“Albeit that’s got me into trouble in my work, I understand that,” the Princess of Wales continued. “But someone’s got to go out there and love people and show it.”