After her split from Prince Charles in 1992, Princess Diana underwent a visible attitude transformation from the ‘Shy Di’ persona the world was first introduced to in her early courtship with the future King. According to body language expert Judi James, Diana epitomised the “determined woman that she really was” after her marriage fell apart, and she committed herself to promoting charitable causes.
Ms James told Express.co.uk: “There are many different versions of Diana portrayed in the media and on film.
“Dramas tend to focus on the vulnerable young bride with her eating disorder and her iconic body language signals of shyness, or the woman coming out of that marriage, sitting miserably in front of the cameras with her doe eyes and long sighs as she spilled the beans on a relationship that had caused her so much anguish.
“It’s the Diana who emerged after the marriage though who seems to have truly epitomised the strong, confident, funny, clever and determined woman that she really was, and who would easily have still been charming and surprising and even entertaining us today if she had lived into her sixties and beyond.”
In many ways, Diana seemed to thrive away from the confines of life in the Royal Family after her split from Charles. While she kept her primary residence at Kensington Palace, Diana travelled abroad extensively to promote her charitable causes.
She lost her honorific as an HRH in her 1996 divorce, but it arguably afforded her the freedom to dress, act and speak how she wanted to rather than how she was expected to as a royal.
Diana threw herself into her royal causes and spoke openly about issues that mattered most to her like landmines, homelessness and HIV/AIDS.
Ms James added: “This Diana looked healthy and wise and her life experiences seem to have allowed her to emerge from her marriage with an ability to relish her freedom and to use it to focus on her causes without any need of propping up or bringing down from Palace restrictions.
“Instead of licking her wounds or vanishing from public life, she got stuck in with a vengeance.
“She clearly understood how much she was adored globally and she seemed to know the power that came with that adoration and how to channel it into her causes.”
Express.co.uk spoke to Ms James about Diana’s body language in iconic photos of her taken post-split from Charles, and the expert described how Diana’s ‘revenge dress’ moment at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994 was an “intentional statement to the world of how she planned to proceed post-split.”
Diana’s statement black dress designed by Christina Stambolian was seen as a reaction to the airing of a documentary that very night, in which Charles admitted he had been unfaithful to Diana after their marriage broke down.
Away from glitzy and glamorous events, Diana was regularly pictured visiting the gym with an air of confidence in later life, which Ms James said was in stark contrast to the “overwhelmed 19-year-old running down streets with her head dipped to escape the press at the start of her relationship”.
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In the final year of her life, one of the most iconic Diana moments ever was borne during a trip to Angola (Princess Diana’s ‘shocking’ landmine trip was one of her ‘finest moments’ – body language).
The world was shocked by pictures of the Princess walking across an active landmine site in Huambo, which she did to raise awareness of victims of landmines and the work of The Halo Trust.
Ms James said: “It was one of Diana’s finest moments and not one tiara or designer dress in sight.
“Her expression to the cameras and her pose were simple but powerful and the shoot seemed to signal and ongoing desire to continue pulling the royals into the kind of change that would have created ongoing relevance and popularity in the next century.”
At the Royal Albert Hall in 1997, just months before she died, Diana dressed to impress at a English National Ballet event, and Ms James said Diana looked “healthier than she had for decades”.
She explained: “Diana’s new signals of strength and confidence had a startling effect on her appeal as a beauty, too.
“She looked healthier than she had for decades and her body language pushed her up to a level achieved by Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly.
“Her non-verbal signals looked sexy and subtly flirty, too. With no husband around to be jealous of her star quality she seemed free to bask in the spotlight at last as an independent woman.”