How Princess Diana ensured Prince William and Harry weren’t spoilt at Christmas

Princess Diana with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry on a skiing holiday in Lech
(Image credit: Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

Princess Diana was reportedly keen for her sons Prince William and Prince Harry to have a ‘normal’ upbringing as she made sure they weren’t spoilt at Christmas. 

  • The Princess of Wales is said to have been “extremely cautious” about how many gifts her sons received over the festive period.
  • According to Princess Diana’s former bodyguard, she enjoyed doing the Christmas shopping herself and encouraged William and Harry to “wander everywhere”. 
  • This royal news (opens in new tab) comes as Kate Middleton is set to host a very special Christmas event this year. (opens in new tab)

The Royal Family have long been known for their specific Christmas traditions, from the Queen’s Christmas speech (opens in new tab) to the delicious menu the royals eat on Christmas Day (opens in new tab). Members of The Firm (opens in new tab) typically gather at Sandringham in Norfolk where Her Majesty hosts her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (opens in new tab) for the festive period. And whilst Prince William and Prince Harry have also joined their relatives throughout the years, it seems their late mother Princess Diana had a wonderfully down-to-earth approach to Christmas. 

Opening up to OK! magazine (opens in new tab), Diana’s former protection officer, Ken Wharfe, revealed that as a very “hands on” parent, she was always conscious not to spoil her boys too much. 

Princess Margaret, Peter Phillips, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Prince Harry and Diana, Princess of Wales attend the Christmas Day church service

He explained, “Diana was very careful to ensure that they weren’t flooded with gifts – gifts did appear from unknown sources, and they were often returned or given to charity because they didn’t need them."

“She was very conscious about what she bought as she knew the hallway at Sandringham would be full of presents,” Ken continued. He then went on to suggest that Diana enjoyed going Christmas shopping for her loved ones in person. 

“She was very generous with gifts. She knew the ground floor plan at Harrods and Harvey Nichols and shopping was always a hands-on experience,” he added. 

According to the publication, the gifts received by William and Harry included small items such as books, games and videos. Though these choices might not feature in the top Christmas toys of 2021 (opens in new tab), the Queen’s grandchildren likely very much loved these thoughtful gifts. 

Princess Diana and William and Harry, leave the church of St. Mary Magdalen near Sandrigham House 25 December

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

And Diana also reportedly ensured both of her boys were kind and chatty with everyone around them, again helping to keep them grounded.

Ken shared, “Diana was always a very hands-on parent, so there were no places that were barred. She was very insistent that her children were seen to be in conversation with all staff. Diana often said that the staff were all part of a wider family and at Sandringham it was the same.”

“Diana and her children would wander everywhere, from the royal places and into the staff areas. The kitchen was always the hub, certainly at Christmas," the former protection officer added.

Prince William and Prince Harry hold gifts given to them by members of the public at Sandringham Church on Christmas Day

This year the Queen is said to be “totally committed” (opens in new tab) to hosting at Sandringham as she marks the first Christmas since losing Prince Philip. William and Kate are expected to spend it with her, accompanied by their three young children. However, recent reports have sadly suggested that Harry and Meghan Markle won’t join (opens in new tab) them with Archie and Lilibet.

Wherever they end up celebrating, however, the memories of Princess Diana’s carefully chosen little gifts and love of engaging with everyone is one Harry and William will likely treasure throughout the Christmases to come. 

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.