When Diana Spencer captured the world stage at just 19 years old, she was promptly nicknamed “Shy Di” by the press.
That nickname couldn’t have been more wrong.
“First of all, none of us ever called her ‘Di’ at home,” says her brother Charles, 9th Earl Spencer. “In fact, there are so many myths from our childhood that are just so ridiculous. That’s one of them. I just think she was never shy, but she was canny about people and she was reserved to start with. And she would take a judgment of somebody before reacting to them. So, that’s not shy . . . that’s actually quite clever.”
She was also an “incredibly brave” girl, as Spencer tells WHO in this week’s cover story.
On one childhood occasion, her brother recalls, the young siblings were staying with their mother in Scotland and set out to catch lobsters.
“We pulled up [a pot] and there was a really massive conger eel,” says Spencer. “It was black and it had teeth was very long and it was flapping around the boat. And Diana just got a pen knife out and just dealt with it. It was hand-to-hand and she just got stuck in. This thing was really a creature from the deep. And she just dealt with it.”
Spencer is joined by Diana’s friend Sir Richard Branson, her wedding dress designer Elizabeth Emanuel, charity partner Vivienne Parry and many others in remembering the late princess.
Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, was beloved around the world and stands as one of the key figures of the 20th century. She had “a genius for people and she could connect with anyone,” Spencer notes — and that was never more apparent than through the way she broke down barriers on AIDS and HIV, tackled the terror of landmines and highlighted the plight of the homeless.
“She could make any person, whether they were the grandest or the most humble, totally at ease,” he says. “It’s an incredible gift.”
For a 10-page anniversary special on Diana, pick up a copy of WHO on sale now.
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE