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Princess Diana went far against the grain when she advocated for causes previously considered taboo amongst royals, including AIDS research, land mine removal and homelessness in the U.K. She was one of the first public figures to be photographed interacting physically with AIDS victims—a decision that helped destigmatize and lessen the public's fear around the condition.
The paparazzi's role in Princess Diana's tragic passing actually brought the royal family and the press closer than ever before. After her death, the palace made agreements with the British media to ensure photographers wouldn't overstep boundaries in an attempt to satiate public interest. As a result, we see more palace-organized photo calls and greater cooperation on both sides when it comes to balancing privacy and public figuredom.
Perhaps Diana's most extraordinary influence on the royal family was her unprecedented vulnerability in the face of public scrutiny. She openly discussed her struggle with mental health (notably suffering from postpartum depression after giving birth to Prince William), and in her landmark interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir Diana remarked, "Well, maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had a depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously that was daunting, because if you've never seen it before how do you support it?"
Years later, William and Harry have kept their mother's legacy alive by launching Heads Together, a campaign that works to change the U.K.'s conversation around mental health and wellbeing.
The princess made yet another impact on life behind palace doors by maintaining unusually laid back relationships with the royal staff. Her famously close friendship with butler Paul Burrell captivated headlines, and she reportedly set up play dates for Prince William and Harry with her employees' children. Princess Di also encouraged her sons to participate in the kitchen, which might have inspired Kate Middleton's decision to often prepare home-cooked meals for her family.
Princess Di flipped the script on traditional royal birthing techniques by welcoming both her children outside Buckingham Palace, where Prince Charles was born decades before. This made Prince William the first future British monarch to be born in a hospital on June 21, 1982. Wills and the Duchess of Cambridge followed suit, welcoming Prince George and Princess Charlotte in the same medical center, St. Mary's in London.
Instead of putting her sons on a pedestal like the entire world had already done, Princess Diana made an effort to create a sense of normalcy for William and Harry. Her youngest explained in an interview, "She made the decision that no matter what, despite all the difficulties of growing up in that lime light and on that stage, she was going to ensure that both of us had as normal life as possible. And if that means taking us for a burger every now and then or sneaking us into the cinema, or driving through the country lanes with the roof down in her old school BMW to listen to Enya."
When Diana and Prince Charles were to embark on their official tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1983, she insisted that Wills (then only 10-months-old) would join his parents on the road. Royal children never typically traveled on these trips, but Diana's decision to keep her family together explains why Prince George and Princess Charlotte are now always included on overseas ventures.