Princess Diana’s Personal Trainer Spent Four Years Unaware She Was Required to Curtsy to Her

The Princess of Wales’ response? “That’s why I love you.”

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein / WireImage for Getty Images)

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
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.