Red nail varnish is supposed to be against royal dress code because it breaks the “no bright, flashy nail colors” rule, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at Princess Diana’s crimson manicure. Meghan Markle recently got dinged by the press for her pink nail polish which toed the line of royal acceptability — so why did Princess Diana totally get away with it? We have a few theories.
1. Princess Diana knew her nails were against the rules and just didn’t care.
The original rule breaker, it’s possible that Princess Diana knew she was was doing was wrong and did it anyway. Princess Di was known for doing things her way — from giving birth standing up to being a hands-on mom — so there may have come a point where she just said, “You know what? I like red nail polish, so I’m going to wear it — end of story!”
“I don’t go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that’s got me into trouble in my work, I understand that,” she admitted during her famous BBC interview.
Deep down, this is the version of events we wish were true. Princess Diana was such a strong, fearless woman that we can imagine her standing up to the rest of the older generation of the British monarchy, saying, “Here I am with my beautiful, bright red nails. What are you going to do about it?”
2. Princess Diana is actually the reason there’s a rule about nail polish.
Because there isn’t an official handbook when it comes to the royal dress code (and if there is one, it’s never been revealed to the public), we don’t really know when the rule first came about. It could be that the queen saw Princess Diana’s red nails and thought, “That’s not befitting of a royal,” and decided to write an informal rule.
We’re not so sure about this one, though. Considering there have been unofficial guidelines in place for decades, if not centuries, regarding what is and isn’t proper for the royals to wear, opinions about bright nail polish were probably formed long before Princess Diana and the queen were around.
3. Princess Diana was no longer a royal, so she didn’t have to follow royal rules.
The most likely explanation? After Charles and Diana announced their separation in 1992, she decided, “You know what, I’m no longer going to be a royal, so I’m going to do what makes me happy.” Prior to the news of the couple’s split, Diana was never photographed with a flashy red manicure. But once the news of divorce broke, Diana started appearing in public with her colorful nails.
Regardless of the real reason, no one looked as good breaking the rules as Princess Diana did!