When Prince William presented Kate Middleton with his beloved mother’s engagement ring in 2010, royal watchers everywhere swooned. After all, Princess Diana’s ring (a 12-karat blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold, surrounded by 14 diamonds) was arguably the most famous engagement ring in the world, as well as a symbol of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ love—and later, what really happened between them.
A ring fit for a Queen
As the future king, Prince Charles’s choice of partner was bound to be highly anticipated and celebrated. When he met Diana, people rejoiced, sure that Charles had finally found his happily-ever-after. A relationship as special as theirs deserved a similarly unique ring—and that’s why palace officials were reportedly unhappy. Previous royal rings, including Queen Victoria’s and Queen Elizabeth’s, had been custom-made. (Queen Elizabeth’s ring was particularly romantic, with Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, gifting him her wedding tiara so it could be used to create Elizabeth’s ring.) However, Diana’s ring, gorgeous though it might have been was—gasp!—available off-the-rack to anybody. Take a look at these rare photos of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding day you might not have seen before.
Chosen from a catalog
Although the ring was certainly expensive—valued at £47,000 or approximately $60,000—the ring that Prince Charles offered to Princess Diana from fancy jewelers Garrard had been featured in the Garrard catalog beforehand.
Founded in London in 1735, Garrard themselves had a royal pedigree, appointed as the official crown jeweler of the United Kingdom in 1843 by Queen Victoria, and serving every British monarch since. However, even though the ring itself had allegedly been royally-inspired by a sapphire-and-diamond cluster brooch given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria as a wedding present, palace officials were reportedly unhappy. Their take? The ring simply wasn’t exclusive enough for a future Queen. Find out the hidden message Diana had painted in her wedding shoes.
After Princess Diana’s tragic passing in 1997, her sons Prince William and Prince Harry selected heirlooms that they wished to keep, with Harry inheriting the famous ring. (Diana’s favorite Cartier Tank Francaise watch went to William.) However, when Prince William knew he was ready to propose to Kate Middleton, Harry didn’t hesitate to offer their mother’s ring. William and Harry swapped items, and William got down on one-knee in Kenya, after carrying the ring around in a knapsack for three weeks beforehand. William was quoted as saying of the iconic ring, “It’s very special, as Kate is very special. It’s my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement.” Now, don’t miss these 20 iconic royal wedding photos throughout history.
- Daily Mail: “Kate’s sapphire engagement ring now worth £300k – 10 TIMES more than when it was bought for Princess Diana – so how does it measure up to Kim Kardashian’s rock and Michelle Obama’s sparkler?”
- Vogue: “A Close Look at the British Royal Family’s Engagement Rings”
- The Telegraph: “The story behind the world’s most famous engagement rings”
- Town & Country: “The Untold Story Behind Queen Elizabeth’s Engagement Ring”
- Harper’s Bazaar: “Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring Is Controversial Because of Princess Diana”
- Garrard: “A Royal Legacy”
- Reuters: “Prince William pays tribute to Diana at wedding”
More from Reader’s Digest:
The Wedding Tradition Princess Diana Started
Myths About Princess Diana
What You Didn’t Know About Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Honeymoon
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