I think it’s safe to say that the engagement ring given to Diana, Princess of Wales is perhaps the most famous of all of the British Royal engagement rings. It is only fitting then that this ring is the focus of our first post on royal engagement rings. We will get to the rings of other royal families, as well. We promise!
So let’s begin.
Charles did not propose to Lady Diana Spencer with the ring in hand. Instead, after she accepted, Garrards was called in to provide some options for the new royal fiancee to choose from. They brought in a tray that included a large oval sapphire ring surrounded by 14 diamonds and set in 18 karat gold. It was priced at around 30,000 pounds and certainly caught Diana’s eye.
According to Diana Her True Story, Diana told Andrew Morton: “A briefcase comes along on the pretext that Andrew is getting a signet ring for his 21st birthday and along came these sapphires. I mean nuggets! I suppose I chose it, we all chipped in. The Queen paid for it.”
This must have happened just before the announcement was given on February 24, 1981 since a friend later said, “the ring was too big for her and there was no time to alter it before the announcement. So I you notice the pictures at the time, she’s often holding the ring to keep it in place.” The ring was still a bit too large for Kate, and during the engagement Kate had the ring sized as well.
I know there has been a lot of talk about the ring not being appropriate for Kate, but I disagree. It has a lot of meaning for William and he gave it to Kate with the best of intentions.I recall reading about how he and Harry went to Kensington Palace to choose some special pieces after their mother’s death. Harry reportedly chose the engagement ring and William chose Diana’s Cartier tank watch, with the understanding that whoever got engaged first would give the ring to their fiancée.
As William said himself, “It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement, and the fact that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.” Come on, that’s just lovely.
While we’re on this topic, I’m reminder of another tidbit. When asked about the engagement, Diana’s father Earl Spencer reportedly said, “We had drinks with them at the palace the night before the announcement…she’ll take it all in her stride. She’s very practical and down to earth, and a very good housewife” (Charles and Diana).
Ok, as far as the housewife comment goes, that was over thirty years ago now and the Earl was from another era. Let’s just let it pass. When I read that quote I remembered a comment that Kate made in their official engagement interview. When asked about joining the royal family she said , “Hopefully I’ll take it all in my stride.”
Hmmm…is that a total coincidence? Maybe. But Kate is very astute and I assure you she’s quietly done a lot of research herself on all things royal and no doubt all things Diana. She is very determined not to put a foot wrong and she’s doing a brilliant job.