The much-adored royal died in 1997 from a car crash in Paris at age 36. Her youngest son was just 12 at the time.
One person who still treasures their memories of the Princess of Wales is her friend Marie Sutton, who first met Diana in 1983 during afternoon tea in Australia.
“There weren’t many people invited, so that was an exciting day,” Sutton recently recalled to the Woman’s Day podcast. “She was very shy and relied on her PR team and a lady in waiting. However, everyone wanted her and not [then-husband] Charles. I remember her being very tall and having this great smile. She had the ‘X-factor.'”
Sutton revealed it didn’t take long for the two women to develop a friendship. After their first meeting, Sutton asked Diana to return to Australia and be a guest speaker at a Victor Chang fundraiser ball.
“I got a letter asking me who I thought would be a good guest speaker for the ball and I happened to say, ‘Princess Diana,’” said Sutton. “Well, I don’t think anyone believed me.”
However, the shy princess would shock Sutton when she personally called her friend to not only thank her for the invitation but to also confirm her attendance.
Since then, Sutton and Diana became very close. And it didn’t take long for Diana to open up about her marriage to Prince Charles.
“She went a week before they were married without talking to him,” claimed Sutton. “I don’t think they had anything in common. She was young, and he was a historian.
“She was fun loving, very, very strong, and very rebellious. She hated being told what to do. She wanted that normal existence, but she was never going to get it. She was the mother of the future king.”
Sutton insisted Diana would become visibly shaken just from describing her marital woes.
“I always changed the subject to the boys when she got upset,” said Sutton. “I can remember saying these words, ‘I would go to any lengths for my boys,’ and she would. She adored them.”
When asked what Diana would have really thought of Harry marrying someone like Markle, Sutton didn’t hesitate to share her response.
“She would have been happy with whoever they married,” said Sutton. “She wanted both sons to be happy. She would have been more stringent on [Prince] William’s choice, because of his role. She had different ways with both of the boys.
“She brought up William ready for his future role, whereas with [Prince] Harry, he was the fun child and she had a special place in her heart for him. Harry was just a naughty boy and you can see from his behavior after his mother died, and he was behind that coffin — it was too hard for any boy his age.”
Markle has stirred headlines recently for allegedly trying to emulate Diana, who’s still celebrated as a tireless humanitarian. However, Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton told Fox News back in April it’s far from an act.
“What surprised me the most was… how she, very early on, became an activist,” he explained. “At the age of 10, she was organizing protests against the Gulf War, for example. How she wrote to Procter & Gamble to complain about their sexist advertising and in doing so, they changed their advertising.
“She felt like she could make a change… She was far more than an activist. This was somebody who was involved in demonstrations [at school] and writing messages of complaint to companies… Meghan helped pursue petitions. I think all that unites the two women is the fact that both had a moral compass.”
Morton also described how Markle would stand up for other young girls being bullied in school.
“She would be the one who stepped in,” he said. “And people remembered that. Those who were bullied remembered that. It was Meghan who was there, stepped in and was a role model. People say she wants to be the new Diana, [but] she actually wants to be the new Meghan.”