Royal Christmas Cards ~ Diana and Charles 1981-1991

Here are the Christmas cards that Diana and Charles sent out during their marriage. They tell quite a story!

1981:

For their first Christmas card they chose a classic wedding photo. Predictable, but it was The Wedding of the Century, after all. So, will William and Kate pick a wedding photo? If they do, I hope it’s a fun one, like the a picture of them in the Aston Martin leaving Buckingham Palace. THAT would be good! Or a behind the scenes picture that we haven’t seen yet (fingers crossed).

1982:

William’s first Christmas card appearance! Wow – what a difference a year makes…wedding, new Princess, new little Prince. That is quite an expression captured on his wee face!

1983:

Wee William on a swing at Balmoral. How cute that they put up a swingset on the grounds…Charles is wearing the Royal Balmoral Tartan. This tartan was designed by Prince Albert back in 1853 for members of the family to wear during their stays at Balmoral. Nowadays, Queen Elizabeth wears this tartan along with other members of the family that have received permission from her to do so (that’s right, the Queen specifies who in her family has the privilege).

1984:

Wee William and Wee Harry, who was born on September 15th that year. Note – Diana’s hair has gotten longer each year so far… We think that she is wearing the sapphire earrings here that William recently gave Kate, and that she wears as drops. (click here for more on the earrings)

1985: And we’re back at Balmoral. This time Diana is getting in on the tartan fun as well! This was most likely taken at the family’s annual retreat to Balmoral in August. Love this picture of them both on the pony.

1986:

We’re notices that William is very good at smiling in all these Christmas cards. And how cute is Harry in this photo? Matching white shirts and red shorts for the boys. This was either taken at Highgrove, Diana and Charles’ country home, or at Kensington Palace. And they have a dog! Wonder what the story is there…

1987:

This relaxed family photo was taken when the Wales were on vacation with the royal family of Spain in Mallorca. How about those crowns on Diana’s sweater? Total Princess Diana humour. Again, matching shirts and shorts for W and H.

1988:

Quite a change from the shorts and tans in Mallorca…

1989:

Highgrove. Matching shorts and shirts. Something about this photo seems a bit sad – they aren’t grouped all together as in previous Christmas card shots. Charles seems kind of off on his own…

1990:

And…matching sweaters and trousers. Sweet.

1991:

The last family Christmas card, a tad strained and pushed….the boys do not look as relaxed and happy as they have in previous years. At this time, Diana was collaborating with Andrew Morton on the book Diana: Her True Story which was published in May of 1992, the Queen’s Annus Horribilis. In December 1992 it was announced in the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales would separate.

So, which is your favourite of these royal Christmas cards?

Diana’s Flat ~ Coleherne Court, London

Happy Monday! We’ve decided to start out the week with a look at where Diana lived prior to her marriage to Prince Charles. Lady Diana Spencer lived at 60 Coleherne Court in Earls Court, in between Chelsea and South Kensington in London, from July 1, 1979 until February 23, 1981.

Coleherne Court, in the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington

Most reports state that the flat was bought for her by her father but in fact it was purchased by her mother, Frances Ruth Shand Kydd. In fact, Frances bought all three of her daughters their first apartments.

Diana with her mother, Frances, at the wedding of her brother Charles, Viscount Althorp

Coleherne Court is a gorgeous mansion block and was built between 1901 and 1904 in red brick and Portland stone. Housing 213 luxury apartments, the building spans three blocks and is set in an acre of landscaped gardens that are for residents only.

Diana’s flat was purchased in 1979 for £50,000. In 1998 Diana’s flat was on the market at £450,000. Today, flats in this building sell for around £1.4million. After Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles, Frances Shand Kydd sold the flat to Japanese buyers for £100,000, an excellent profit margin!

Here are a couple of shots of the interior of the flat as it appeared in 1998:

Prior to her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana was photographed outside of her apartment constantly. Some photographers even rented the flat across the street to get more photos.

Diana’s flat was in Block H, and she had three roommates who paid rent, Carolyn (Pride) Bartholomew, Virginia Pitman, Ann Bolton.

Diana charged her roommates £18 per week for rent. She reportedly posted a sign on her door saying, “Chief Chick.” Nowadays, a three bedroom flat in this building rents for £2,500 per week (or, divided by four roomates, £625 per week).

Diana attended her previous roommates’ weddings and was godmother to their children. Diana seems to have kept in touch the most with Carolyn Bartholomew, who later threatened to go to the press about Diana’s bulimia if she didn’t get treatment.

Here is a picture of Diana, Carolyn and William taken in 1989 at Highgrove, the country home of Charles and Diana.

On February 23, 1981, the night before her engagement to Prince Charles was officially announced, Diana left her flat and moved into Clarence House, the Queen Mother’s residence near Buckingham Palace. She left a note for her roommates that said, ‘For God’s sake ring me up – I’m going to need you.’

Fun Fact before we end – Sophie, Countess of Wessex also lived in the building for a short time before she married Prince Edward. We wonder why this hasn’t been reported on more – it’s quite a funny coincidence, no?

Diana’s First Royal Christmas

We’re starting to feel quite festive here at the Royal Post! We have a fun series of posts coming up including royal Christmas cards, Christmas at Sandringham, and other royal traditions. Stay tuned!

To kick off, let’s take a look at Diana’s first Christmas as Princess of Wales. The previous year she had spent Christmas at Althorp with her family, and visited Charles at Sandringham on the first of January. In 1981 she was Princess of Wales, and the second highest ranked lady in the Kingdom after the Queen.

Diana helped kick off the festivities in London by officially turning on the Christmas lights on Regent Street on November 18th, 1981. Lucky for us, it’s now on YouTube. Here’s a link. 

HRH The Princess of Wales Turning on the Christmas Lights on Regent Street

Interesting fact – this year Camilla turned on the Christmas lights at Burlington Arcade, a short walk away from Regent Street. At Regent Street the lights were turned on by  Bill Nighy, Ashley Jensen, Kelly Clarkson,  Matt Cardle and Emma Bunton. I’m sure they would have loved a Kate appearance, but the Palace is carefully crafting her entrance to public life and her role is not yet as high profile as it was for Diana. I’m sure they are also trying to limit her public appearances to more serious events while she and William and still living in Wales for their two years of relative normalcy before they become full time royals.

For their first Christmas card together, Diana and Charles chose one of their wedding photographs.

Diana and Charles Christmas Card 1981

The card reads, ‘With all good wishes for Christmas and the New Year’. The front cover includes twin gilt embossed royal crests. Perhaps William and Kate will follow suit and also select a wedding picture. Wouldn’t it be great if it was a never-before-seen one? If they don’t select a wedding photo, our second guess would be that they choose a candid, laughing photo from the Canada tour. Perhaps one from PEI in the rain with their clear umbrellas, or one after the boat race when they are on the dock in their lifevests.

As per tradition, Diana joined the rest of the Royal family At Sandringham. In Andrew Morton’s Book Diana: Her True Story, it is reported that at her first Christmas Diana didn’t know that the royal family gave each other joke-y gifts rather than thoughtful, more precious items. She was embarrassed to be out of the joke when she gave out her gifts of cashmere sweaters while the others handed out whoopie cushions. Oh dear!

However, it is interesting to note that this was not Diana’s first Christmas at Sandringham. Having grown up on the estate (her family lived in Park House on the grounds, which is also where Diana’s mother grew up), the Spencer kids would join the Windsor kids to watch the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Christmas day. As Diana recalled in Diana: Her True Story, ‘We hated it so much. We hated going over there. The atmosphere was always very strange when we went there and I used to kick and fight anyone who tried to make us go over there and Daddy was most insistent because it was rude. I said I didn’t want to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the third year running.”

Here are Charles and Diana on Christmas day at the church at Sandringham. Interestingly, this is also where Diana (and Princess Eugenie) was christened.

Prince Charles with Diana, Princess of Wales at Sandringham on Christmas Day

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find any photos of the walk from Sandringham house to the church in 1981 (an annual Christmas highlight – the hats! The coats!), but   we are very much looking forward to this year’s walk. Who thinks Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be on the agenda this year?