Of all the perks of being a royal, getting to shop like one might be our favorite. What’s not to love about browsing without other shoppers shoving past you down an aisle, skipping the long fitting-room lines, and avoiding talkative shopkeepers? That’s what it was like for Princess Diana when she popped into the shops.
Stefan Kyriazis once managed the flagship store of fashion brand Joseph in Kensington, and he shared his experience serving Princess Diana there. According to Kyriazis, the staff had already received notice that “The People’s Princess” would be arriving, so the store’s 14 employees were asked to wait in another room while she browsed. The only workers allowed on the floor were the cashier and Kyriazis. At the time, large department stores like the British chain Harvey Nichols also closed down their locations when Lady Di wanted to come in, so she could peruse peacefully.
Diana and her staff — which included two body guards and a lady-in-waiting — were so discreet that even though the shop had large windows looking onto the street, neither passersby nor paparazzi noticed what was happening in the store, according to Kyriazis. This was also back before smartphones, so royal staff were less concerned with photos being taken.
A pregnant Princess Diana accompanied by her body guards on a shopping trip in 1982. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
As proof of her down-to-earth and generally pleasant personality, Diana and her female companion chatted happily like friends while they shopped. The Princess of Wales “asked me directly for anything she needed, solicited advice, and was extremely approachable,” Kyriazis continued. It warms our hearts to imagine Diana enjoying a nice day out with someone she perhaps called a friend, leisurely browsing away from all the royal drama.
At the time, Princess Diana had already separated from Prince Charles, so Kyriazis and his staff were a bit unsure as to how Diana would pay for her purchases — but not because they believed she didn’t have the money. “It is often customary dealing with royal clients to send bills on to the relevant palace (St James, Buckingham, or in her case, Kensington Palace),” he said. But the independent Diana, in “the most extraordinary moment,” pulled out a credit card with a flourish. “At this moment [Diana’s] face broke into a huge grin as she declared she was ‘independent’ and would pay for her purchases herself.” She never once asked for a discount, Kyriazis said.
We’ve loved Diana for so many reasons, including the wondeful job she did raising her boys. But hearing about what a decent person she was even when dealing with shopkeepers — whom she could have easily treated as if they were beneath her status — makes us adore her even more. And, let’s be honest: We’d love to have been able to shop with her, too!