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20 Times In History When Royals Snuck Out In Disguise To Do Everyday Things

As a member of the royal family, you get used to people treating you differently. Being in the spotlight from brith and having such wealth and privilege makes living a ‘regular’ life near impossible. Casually hanging out and having normal conversations with non-royals? Pretty much out of the question. That’s why royals have been known to head out in disguise, and the stories are pretty entertaining.

1. Princess Diana

It’s common knowledge that Princess Diana didn’t always find it easy to fit in with her new relatives after her marriage to then-prince Charles — now, of course, King Charles III. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the princess liked to escape the gilded cage of British royal life for a chance to let her hair down with the commoners. On one startling occasion she went out on the town with a famous star — Freddie Mercury no less.

Freddie Mercury

The comedian Cleo Rocos recounted the surprising episode in her 2013 book The Power of Positive Drinking. For her illicit night out the royal disguised herself by wearing a cap, shades and an army tunic. Mercury, Diana and Rocos met up at a south London pub. While recognizing her companions, folks were completely fooled by Diana’s unusual outfit, mistaking her for a gay man. 

2. Peter the Great

Peter the Great, or Tsar Peter I was born in 1672. When he was in his 20s and already ruler of the Russian Empire he went on a tour of Europe. Instead of announcing himself as a monarch, he went by the name of Pyotr Mikhailov, doing his best to blend in with the people he met as he traveled. The fact that he was 6 foot 7 inches tall can hardly have helped him in his bid for anonymity.

A carpenter

But Peter did his best to pass himself off as a sailor with a sideline in carpentry. He honed his woodworking and shipbuilding skills in the Dutch city of Zaandam, where he lived in a humble timber house, a far cry from his lavish palaces in Russia. There’s even a statue in St. Petersburg showing Peter hard at work in a shipyard. It’s titled “The Tsar Carpenter.”