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Parenting lessons we can all learn from Princess Diana

On the 25th anniversary of her death, we imagine what Diana may have told Duchesses Kate and Meghan about motherhood had she met her daughters-in-law.

August 31, 2022
By Nadine Tuback
31 August 2022

It’s been 25 years since the death of Princess Diana in a Paris tunnel. Many of us can remember where we were and what we were doing with surprising clarity when the news reached us in all parts of the world.

Her tragically short life and the role she played in shaking up Britain’s royal family has since been analysed in minute detail for decades and it is fair to say that even a quarter-century later, her legend lives on.

One area where she especially stood out from the other royals was the open affection she showed towards her sons William and Harry.

Here, we analyse some of the young family’s most photographed moments and imagine what advice she may have given her daughters-in-law had she had the chance.

There’s no such thing as too much cuddling. You never know what the future holds, so take advantage of every opportunity to hold them close.

Diana with Harry in 1985. (John Stillwell/PA)

Let kids be kids. You shouldn’t ‘train’ little children to act like adults.

Prince Harry sticks out his tongue for the cameras on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on 11 June 1988, following the Trooping of the Colour. Princess Diana holds Harry, as a smiling Prince William stands in front. (Steve Holland/AP)

Don’t let life get in the way of spending time with your loved ones. Even little moments can become core memories.

Diana with William and Harry on the steps of the Royal Palace on the island of Mallorca, Spain, in August 1987. (John Redman/AP)

Make sure your children know how important their education is to you. Show up for them … always.

William gets a handshake from Frederika Blair-Turner, the headmistress of Wetherby School in Notting Hill, alongside a smiling four-year-old Harry 4, while Diana smiles in the background in September 1989. (Gill Allen/AP)

Lead by example. If you want your kids to get off the couch and spend time outside in the fresh air, nothing will encourage them more than you showing them how it’s done.

Charles, Diana, William and Harry explored the Isle of Scilly’s Tresco Island by bike in June 1989. (AP)

Make the best of any situation. Forgot your running shoes at home? Run it barefoot! All you can do is try your best.

Diana, wearing a white dress and no shoes, races ahead during the mother’s race held during a sports day at William’s school in 1989. (AP)

Keep an open line of communication with your children so that they know that they can always come to you whether they want to share their hopes or fears.

Princess Diana chats to William outside his school in September 1991. (Nigel Marple/AP)

It doesn’t matter how big they get, your children are never too old or too cool for some love from Mum.

Diana rests her hands on Harry’s shoulders as she chats to the other adults outside Manor House on William’s first day at Eton College in September 1995. (Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Wear that costume. Get down in the sand. Your kids don’t see your imperfections and your insecurities. To them you already are perfect. Don’t let your own inhibitions get in the way of your enjoyment.

Diana is surrounded by children from the royal entourage as they bury her legs in the sand on the beach at privately owned Necker Island in British Virgin Islands in April 1990. Harry, 5, has his hand on her shoulder, while William, 7, is top right. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Manners never go out of fashion. Teach your children how important small gestures, like bringing someone flowers, can make someone feel special.

Diana and the boys leave the Natural History Museum after viewing a dinosaur exhibition in April 1992. (Gill Allen/AP)

Recognise that you, too, are important. It can be easy to ‘go without’ as a mum so your kids can have the best of everything, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. So if you are coveting a new dress or string of pearls that will make you feel a million bucks, don’t feel guilty for doing something for yourself.

Diana and her sons in May 1995. (Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Get in those photos. Make sure you’re not always the person behind the lens of the camera. Make sure your special moments with your family are captured, too.

Photographs of Princes William and Harry and Princess Diana are displayed on a desk used by Princess Diana in Kensington Palace at the Royal Gifts exhibition at the 2017 Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Constantly remind yourself to take a step back and marvel in the wonderful humans you have created.

Diana looks at her sons with clear joy as she and her family pose for the cameras on William’s first day at Eton in 1995. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Go all in and live your best, happiest life. Smile often. Laugh hard. Enjoy every moment of your children.

Diana enjoying a day out at Thorpe Park amusement park with Harry and William. (Cliff Kent/PA)
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