What Princess Diana Would Have Changed About the Monarchy, In Her Own Words

She felt they were too distant.

Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing sunglasses and a pale green maternity dress with a white collar designed by Catherine Walker, while pregnant with Prince William, attend a polo match at Guards Polo Club on May 30, 1982 in Windsor, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein / Getty)

In 1995, Princess Diana gave an interview to the BBC's Martin Bashir, basically her era's answer to the Harry and Meghan Oprah interview.

The interview was viewed by millions around the world and has continued to cause controversy in the many years since it aired.

But among the more shocking statements Diana made during the interview ("There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" comes to mind), she also very respectfully offered some advice to the Royal Family.

In a clip featured in upcoming HBO documentary The Princess, Bashir asks the late royal, "Do you think you'll ever be queen?"

She answers, "No, I don't. No."

When pressed, she goes on, "I don't think many people would want me to be queen. Actually, when I say 'many people,' I mean the establishment that I married into, because they've decided that I'm a nonstarter."

For her this was "because I do things differently."

This prompts Bashir to ask, "Do you think the monarchy needs to adapt and to change?"

Diplomatically, Diana proposes the following: "I understand that change is frightening for people, especially if there's nothing to go to. It's best to stay where you are. I understand that.

"But I do think that there are a few things that could change, that would alleviate this doubt, and sometimes complicated relationship between monarchy and public. I think they could walk hand in hand, as opposed to being so distant."

Significantly, the documentary played this conversation in voiceover on footage of royals including the Queen partaking in the annual Ghillies Ball at Balmoral Castle, during which "the servants are allowed to dance with the upper class," according to ELLE UK.

While the dance is a nice way to keep traditions alive and celebrate Scottish dancing, it also exemplifies the distance royals keep with the public—not least because the Queen is seen dancing in the middle of a circle while wearing an elaborate gown and tiara.

Younger royals like Prince William and Kate Middleton have heeded Diana's advice, however, and are often seen having heart-to-hearts with members of the public.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.