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7 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Princess Diana

August 31st marks the 22nd anniversary of Princess Diana's death. Here are seven royal secrets of the People's Princess.

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Ballet dancer in point shoesPhoto: Shutterstock

Ballet was one of her first loves

As a child in Norfolk, England, little Diana Spencer studied ballet and dreamed of taking the stage with the Royal Ballet. Unfortunately, her height held her back, as she eventually grew to nearly 5’11”. But her passion for dance remained even after she married Prince Charles in 1981. She was known for her generosity in supporting the English National Ballet, both as a private dancer and through fundraising efforts. In 1985, she surprised an audience, including the royal family, at the Royal Opera House with a three-minute contemporary dance performance with her friend and former Royal Ballet Principal Wayne Sleep. After her death, renowned ballet dancer and choreographer Peter Schaufuss developed a full-length ballet called Diana—The Princess.

You’ll never guess the hidden talents of the royal family!

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Camilla Parker-BowlesPhoto: JasperImage/Shutterstock

Lady Di wasn’t Charles’s first choice

In the late 1970s, Charles was heavy on the dating scene, spending time with ladies such as Lady Jane Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington’s daughter, and brewery heiress Sabrina Guinness. He even proposed to the granddaughter of his mentor Lord Louis Mountbatten (she said no). He was also spending time with Sarah Spencer, Diana’s sister. Through it all, he had one very ineligible bachelorette on his mind: Camilla Shand, who had married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Low on options and under pressure to tie the knot, Charles turned to the Queen Mother—and to Camilla—for advice. Both agreed that Diana would be a good fit. Charles proposed in February 1981; Diana chose an engagement ring of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold.

Find out how Prince Charles hid his affair from Princess Diana.

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Prince William and Kate MiddletonPhoto: Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock

Nearly everyone in the world watched Princess Diana’s wedding

When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in 2011, 300 million viewers tuned in. Sounds like a lot? Hardly. In 1981, when Diana married the Prince of Wales, a whopping 750 million people around the world watched—that’s six and a half times the number of people who watched the most-viewed Super Bowl.

Here’s what Kensington Palace looked like right after Princess Diana’s death.

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Close-up of bride and groom's wedding ringsPhoto: Shutterstock

There was one vow Diana didn’t make

Most royal brides, including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne adhered to the wedding vows as prescribed in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer dating from 1662 to “obey him and serve him, love, honour, and keep him, in sickness and in health.” But not princess Diana. She decided to omit “obey,” a choice echoed by her future daughter-in-law Kate Middleton.

Don’t miss these other little-known facts about royal weddings.

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St. Paul's Cathedral in London, EnglandPhoto: Shutterstock

Diana pulled out all the stops for her wedding

When Diana appeared at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981, she was ensconced in an elaborate gown made of silk taffeta and antique lace, decorated with sequins, embroidery, and 10,000 pearls. Diana required several practice sessions to adjust to walking with the dress’s enormous 25-foot train, an appendage that barely fit into the glass coach in which she road with her father to the ceremony. Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the dress influenced wedding gowns for years after and is now owned by her sons and on display at the Althorp House in Northampton.

Did you know that Princess Diana had a secret backup wedding dress?

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Magazine covers, including AdelePhoto: Shutterstock

Princess Diana was a popular cover model

Diana appeared on the cover of PEOPLE more than 50 times, Time eight times, Newsweek seven times, Vanity Fair five times, and at least once on Tatler, LIFE, Vogue, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping, and others.

Check out the royal family scandals that shocked the world.

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Queen Elizabeth greeting crowdsPhoto: Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock

Queen Elizabeth wasn’t a fan of Diana’s

The notoriously icy Queen Elizabeth found her son’s 20-year-old bride borderline insufferable. “She’s not like the rest of us,” the Queen told the editors of Fleet Street. “She’s very young.” When Diana pursued volunteer and fundraising opportunities with people suffering from HIV and AIDS, the Queen asked Diana if she couldn’t get involved with “something more pleasant.” And while the meaning is disputed, the Queen is reported to have said at the news of Diana’s death that “someone must have greased the brakes.”

These are the things we still don’t know about Princess Diana’s death.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest