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8 Rules Princess Diana Changed for Good

She might have left the royal family when she divorced Prince Charles, but Princess Diana's legacy is stronger than ever.

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Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, London, Britain - 29 Jul 1981

She didn’t say “obey” in her wedding vows

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer from 1662 specified that brides should promise to “obey” their new husbands in their wedding vows. That word was removed from later versions, starting in 1928, but the royal family—including Queen Elizabeth II—continued using it during their weddings. That’s why it was quite the controversy when Princess Diana opted not to say it when she married Prince Charles in 1981. But she set a new tradition: Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle both took Diana’s lead and left it out of their vows, too. Her vows weren’t the only time Meghan Markle has channeled Princess Diana, and she isn’t the only royal to have done so.

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British royalty on a royal tour of New Zealand - Apr 1983

She brought the kids on royal tours

Until Princess Diana entered the picture, leaving kids at home with a nanny was standard. When Prince Charles and Princess Anne were five and three years old, respectively, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip left them in England for half a year while they went on a grand tour of the Commonwealth. Princess Diana wasn’t a fan of leaving the kids behind, though. When Prince William was just nine months old, Princess Diana insisted on taking him on tour. William is following his mother’s footsteps by bringing his own kids on international visits.

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Prince William And Prince Harry Education (1st Day Back At School For The Start Of A New Term) 25th April 1990 Princess Diana Takes Her Sons Prince William And Prince Harry (with Their Bags And Their New School Uniforms ) Into Wetherby School In Nott
Mike Forster/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

She didn’t homeschool her kids

Prince Charles was the first royal to go to prep school rather than being privately educated, but he didn’t leave his private tutor until he was eight years old. When he and Diana were raising their own children, they sent William and Harry straight to school with other kids in nursery school.

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Birth of Prince William, Lindo Wing, St Mary's Hospital, London, UK - 1982

She gave birth in a hospital

Queen Elizabeth II and her predecessors delivered their children in royal residences; Prince Charles was born in Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty’s daughter, Princess Anne, was the first royal woman to give birth in a hospital, and Diana followed suit. Photos of Princess Di standing outside St. Mary’s Hospital with her newborns became iconic. Kate Middleton gave birth to all three of her kids in the same Lindo Wing of the hospital and stepped out for similar photo ops afterward. Unlike these 20 rarely seen photos of Princess Diana, the photo of Diana leaving the hospital with Prince Charles was viewed around the world.

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British royal tour of Italy - 1985
MAURO CARRARO/Shutterstock

She stopped wearing gloves

You’ll rarely see Queen Elizabeth step out in public without her iconic gloves, but Princess Diana kept her hands bare. The People’s Princess reportedly ditched the stuffy accessory because she actually preferred the direct contact. These days, you’ll rarely see a duchess wearing white gloves. Here are some of the most inspiring Princess Diana quotes.

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British royalty at polo, Britain - 1985
Steve Fenton/Shutterstock

She ditched the hats

Gloves aren’t the only accessory Princess Diana stopped wearing—she also chose not to wear hats during every royal visit. “She said, ‘You can’t cuddle a child in a hat,’” Eleri Lynn, curator of the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibit, tells People. Because of this decision, the few hats Princess Diana did wear, were a window into her life.

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DAVID HARTLEY/Shutterstock

She wasn’t afraid of controversy

The royal family is all about decorum and typically doesn’t get involved in controversial issues—partially because it’s unconstitutional for the monarch to express political opinions. When Princess Diana famously shook hands glove-free with a man who had HIV/AIDS in 1987, she helped eliminate the stigma of the disease. At the time, public thinking was that AIDS could be spread through touch, so seeing a member of British royalty unafraid of that contact sparked a change in public perception. Now, Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle are all campaigning with Heads Together to end the stigma around mental health.

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Cassidy and Leigh/Shutterstock

She was a hands-on mom

Diana might have been raising two princes, but she didn’t raise them in the traditional royal manner. She’d take them out for pizza and McDonald’s, bring them to Disney World, and even let them ride the tube and bus on certain occasions. William and Harry have expressed how thankful they are that their mom let them live relatively normal lives, and they’ve kept up with her tradition. William and Kate are hands-on parents, too, bringing their kids to school themselves instead of asking staff to help out. Unlike these 9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew until after her death, her role in her children’s life was always front and center in her life.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.