An American businesswoman who hired an 18-year-old Princess Diana as a nanny for her infant son has opened up about her first impressions of the ‘shy’ and ‘very tactile’ teenager – who went on to wed Prince Charles in front of millions just months later.
Mary Robertson employed Diana for several months as a ‘babysitter’ to her infant son Patrick in 1980 – and the position was the final held by the future Princess of Wales before her wedding to Prince Charles in July 1981.
But while Diana was just weeks away from becoming one of the most famous faces in the world when she was hired by the family – who were living in London at the time – behind the scenes, Robertson says the teenager’s demeanor couldn’t have been further away from that of a global celebrity.
In an exclusive clip from upcoming CNN docuseries Diana, which premieres on Sunday, October 10, Robertson recalls meeting the ‘shy’ and naive young woman for the first time – while praising her natural ability to care for children.
‘When Diana came to me as a shy 18-year-old babysitter, she’d had very little world experience – none at all – and she was just wonderful with Patrick,’ Robertson said.
‘She sat on the floor with him and she was totally focused on him.’
Looking back: An American businesswoman who employed an 18-year-old Princess Diana as a nanny to her infant son has opened up about her first impressions of the future royal
Insight: Mary Robertson hired Diana to care for her baby son Patrick in 1980 and says that the teenager was very ‘shy’ but ‘wonderful’ with her child
Diana worked for the Robertsons for three days a week, earning just $5-an-hour in the role – which she further bolstered by taking up a position as a nursery school teacher on the days when she wasn’t caring for Patrick.
Robertson has previously revealed that she had no idea about Diana’s aristocratic background when she hired her – nor was she aware that the teenager was actually dating Prince Charles at the time, telling Inside Edition in 2017 that she only learned about the romance when Diana warned her about paparazzi photographers who were camped outside the Robertson home.
‘She said, “When you leave for work this morning, there are reporters and photographers at the end of the street,”‘ Robertson said. ‘I asked, “Who are they there for?” She said, “They are there for me.”
But even as Diana’s personal life became the source of much public speculation and intrigue, Robertson says she remained the same ‘trusting’ and ‘loving’ young woman that she had always been – recalling how she won people over with her ‘very tactile’ characteristic.
‘One of her strongest characteristics was she was very tactile, she wanted to hug people, reach out at touch them,’ Robertson told CNN.
‘That basic warm, trusting, loving, caring personality was always there.’
‘Loving’: In an exclusive clip from CNN’s upcoming docuseries Diana, Robertson recalls the then-teenager as having ‘no world experience’ when she was hired
Character trait: ‘One of her strongest characteristics was she was very tactile, she wanted to hug people, reach out at touch them,’ Robertson told CNN
Natural talent: Diana worked for the Robertsons three days a week and on the other two, she took up a position as a nursery school assistant
Robertson only ended up employing Diana for a matter of months, before the teen handed in her notice and moved into Buckingham Palace ahead of her wedding to Prince Charles – however she says that they remained incredibly close over the next 16 years before the Princess passed away in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
‘We continued a correspondence for the next 16 years,’ she shared with Inside Edition, revealing that Diana sent dozens of letters and cards to her – even asking for the family to come and visit her.
The businesswoman attended Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, describing it as the ‘saddest, most painful hour’ of her life.
Diana’s shy demeanor as a teenager is also highlighted in the CNN docuseries by her former ballet teacher, Wendy Mitchell, who taught dance classes at West Heath, the Sussex school that the future royal attended as a teenager.
According to Mitchell, Diana saw her ballet classes as ‘somewhere she could really shine’ – and a place where she could ‘lose herself’ in something she had a true passion for.
‘Here, in the ballet class was somewhere she could shine,’ Mitchell revealed. ‘She adored dancing and anyone who has danced, if you do enjoy dancing, you’re just lost in yourself.’
Under the radar: Robertson has previously revealed that she had no idea Diana was dating Prince Charles – until the teen warned the businesswoman about paparazzi outside the home
Background: The businesswoman was also unaware of Diana’s aristocratic upbringing as Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of Earl Spencer (pictured with his second wife Raine)
CNN’s new docuseries about the late Princess of Wales is set to debut on October 10 at 9pm ET, and promises to ‘re-examine the life of an icon through the lens of modernity’ while ‘drawing on voices of those close to her’ in order to ‘discover the real woman behind the People’s Princess’.
The series features interviews with a variety of people who knew or worked with Diana – including friends, royal experts, and members of the media who sat down with her over the years.
British TV host Angela Rippon, who interviewed Diana and Charles ahead of their wedding in 1981 also shares her first impressions of the Princess of Wales in the docuseries, revealing how she knew right away that ‘there was something more to Diana’ during their on-air conversation.
‘There was something more to Diana, something that was not the marshmallow or the Play-Doh that was going to be molded into what they [the royals] wanted,’ she says in a clip obtained by People.
‘Running through all of it was a backbone, a knowledge of her own self.’
The six-part CNN series will begin with an episode about Diana’s childhood, examining her parents’ divorce and her unhappy relationship with her father’s second wife Raine.
Subsequent episodes will investigate her ‘rise to global stardom’, the impact of her decision to speak out about Charles’ affair with his now-wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, and how her ‘legacy continues’ to this day.