The relationship between personal trainer Jenni Rivett and the most famous woman in the world (Princess Diana, of course) began in the early 1990s with a phone call from the princess’ butler, Paul Burrell. At the time, reports Insider, the South African fitness coach was based in the U.K. and was training one of Diana’s best friends, Julia Samuel; the princess had heard Rivett’s name mentioned at three different dinner parties before deciding to reach out to see what the fuss was about.
“I just got a phone call one day,” Rivett told Insider. “It was bizarre. It was Paul Burrell from Kensington Palace, and he said, ‘Oh, is that Jenni?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Um, this is Paul Burrell calling from Kensington Palace, and Her Royal Highness would like to know if she could book an appointment to see you.'”
Rivett, as any of us would be, says she “was pretty blown away.” For the next seven years, Rivett worked as Diana’s personal trainer—and, not hailing from the U.K., had no idea she was required to curtsy to the Princess of Wales. It’s a gaffe she says she made for four whole years—and, after trying to apologize, Diana laughed and said “that’s why I love you,” telling Rivett she never had to curtsy to her.
“I think we hit it off really well because she liked the fact that I was South African and I didn’t know all the rules,” Rivett says. “I didn’t curtsy to her for four years because I didn’t know I had to. Nobody told me.”
Diana and Rivett became fast friends, partly because Diana loved that they didn’t come from the same social circles—or even the same country, Rivett says.
And, by the way, you too can train like Diana did: Rivett offers online training sessions through her Train Like a Woman program, which run £35 (so around $43) for 12 classes.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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