Season 4 of the Netflix series The Crown focuses heavily on the relationship and eventual marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, and spotlights some of the traditions and protocols that members of the British royal family were expected to follow. In real life, Princess Diana challenged or broke many of these rules - and in doing so, she not only made the royal family adapt to a more modern way of thinking, but also helped change the family's image in the eyes of the general public.
Which of these rules and traditions do you think aren't really necessary for members of the British royal family to observe?
Before Diana, The British Royal Family Was Inaccessible To The Public
In Season 4, episode 6 of The Crown, we see how Princess Diana ended up being known as "the people's princess" because of her friendly, unpretentious manner and her willingness to connect with the general public.
In real life, the British royal family was seen as inaccessible to the general public and rather cold-natured. For example, most female royals wore gloves at their royal engagements, in part to limit physical contact with the public. In fact, British royal protocol holds that the public cannot touch a royal unless the royal initiates the contact - Queen Elizabeth II often holds her handbag with two hands in order to show that there will be no handshaking.
But Diana often chose not to wear gloves, preferring to shake hands or hug people without the physical barrier. Unlike the other royals, she was unafraid to show physical affection in public, even to strangers. And while other royals remained standing when meeting children, following the protocol that everyone had to be reverential to the crown, Diana would crouch down and get on eye level with the kids that she met.
Her behavior not only helped break down some of the barriers between the British royal family and the public, but also helped erase stigmas, such as when she showed no hesitation in shaking hands with or hugging patients with HIV or AIDS at a time when many believed the disease could be transmitted through touch.
Her influence is reflected in how much more open her two sons and their wives are in dealing with both the public and the media than the older royals used to be. Even Queen Elizabeth II is seen as far more accessible than she had been in the past.Asking too much?
She Was Required By Tradition To Give Birth To An Heir Shortly After Her Marriage, And To Have At Least Two Children
According to British royal tradition, Diana was required to give birth to an heir to the throne within the first 18 months of her marriage. She was also required to have at least two children - "an heir and a spare" - so that there would be a second child to inherit the claim to the throne in case something happened to the first child.
Whether deliberately or coincidentally, Diana ended up following these traditions - her first child, Prince William, was born less than one year after her marriage, and she ended up having two children (Prince Harry was born about two years after his brother).Asking too much?
She Had To Fight To Be Allowed To Bring Her Children With Her On Royal Engagements
Before Prince Charles and Princess Diana had their children, it was traditional for British royals to leave the kids behind whenever the parents had to travel.
As is pointed out in Season 4, episode 6 of The Crown, Prince Charles and Princess Anne had been left behind in the care of a nanny, per Town and Country, when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had gone off on a months-long royal tour back in 1954 (the couple's other two children had yet to be born).
But in 1983, Prince Charles and Princess Diana made a break from tradition, per Reader's Digest, when they took their 9-month-old son Prince William with them on their tour of Australia and New Zealand. In the episode of The Crown, the suggestion is made to Queen Elizabeth that it would help Diana, who is struggling in her marriage, if she were allowed to take her son with her on this important tour.
In real life, Diana reportedly had to fight hard to be allowed to have her children come with her on her royal engagements.Asking too much?
She Broke British Royal Tradition By Going To A Hospital To Give Birth
It was tradition for British royals to give birth at home. Diana went against that policy when she gave birth to both Prince William (in 1982) and Prince Harry (1984) at St. Mary's Hospital in London.
Although William wasn't the first member of the British royal family to be born in a hospital, he was the first one who was expected to one day become the British monarch to be born outside of the royal family's home.Asking too much?