PRINCESS DIANA was always subverting expectations – but she shocked even the press pack when she attended Prince William’s sports’ day in 1989.
The Princess of Wales was not afraid to join in with the spirit of the day and surprised everyone by competing in the mothers’ race. Not only that but she sprinted as fast as she could, her white dress billowing, and won the race. In 2013 Amazon Prime documentary ‘Royalty Close Up: The Photography of Kent Gavin’, Kent Gavin recalled the incident with amazement.
He said: “Another occasion I recall it was William’s sports day – and we thought we’d only be getting pictures of the boys doing this certain thing.
“And then it’s the mothers’ race and we thought Diana wouldn’t take part in it.
“And then we see her lining up down there and she’s taking her shoes off, and I’m like ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening!’
“And woof – away they go! And the determination in Diana to win that race was immense.
Princess Diana stole the show at Prince William’s sports day (Image: GETTY)
Princess Diana took her shoes off and sprinted barefoot across the grass (Image: GETTY)
“I mean, you knew she was going to win it and she won it.
“I don’t know whether the other parents were up or not, but she was streets ahead of it. And she wooshed straight through.”
Mr Gavin captured this extraordinary moment on camera, as the princess flew in front of the other mothers.
This became something of a tradition afterwards, with Diana facing off against the mothers again several times.
Kent Gavin recalled the incredible moment Diana joined the mothers’ race (Image: Amazon Prime)
Each time, Diana appeared to take it very seriously, speeding along in long flowing skirts.
Patrick Jephson, former private secretary to Princess Diana, reflected on her ability to always play up to the humorous and make a great picture.
He said: “Kent was very good at recognising the humourous angle to anything that was going on – and, of course, so was Diana!
“They had a great sense of humour and were able to use that to lighten a moment of otherwise rather intimidating tension.”
Princess Diana was determined to win (Image: GETTY)
Princess Diana made a habit of joining in with the races after that (Image: GETTY)
As well as making great photographs, Diana also liked to show her sons that she could be a down-to-earth mother as well as a royal.
In fact, she was known to take William and Harry to McDonald’s for fast food and down the high street.
Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to the Queen, told the documentary: “Diana used to take William and Harry to the high street.
“And they got the best of both worlds from their parents – Charles gave them hunting, fishing, shooting and polo, and Diana gave them the high street.”
That said, according to royal protection officer Ken Wharfe, Diana often had to hide these sorts of activities from her husband.
He revealed in the documentary ‘Prince William at Thirty’, uploaded to YouTube in June 2012, how Prince Charles would “probably have had a fit” if he knew the princes were eating at McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond explained the reasoning behind it.
She claimed that Diana made it very clear to the boys that there were ‘work days’ and ‘play days’.
Diana captured lining up for the race dressed in white and red (Image: GETTY)
The princess apparently told them: “On work days you have to dress up like young princes and you have to behave that way.
“But on play days, yes you can wear your jeans, you can have baseball caps, you can eat a burger.’”
In this way, Diana tried to give William and Harry as normal a life as possible.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK