The Tale of Princess Diana's Most Iconic Engagement Ring

Lady Diana Spencer, once dubbed by the British press as the perfect English Rose, was a daughter of a wealthy British nobleman who directly descended from King Charles II of England, Johnny Spencer, the 8th Earl of Althorp. Her mother, Frances, was a daughter of another British nobleman, the 4th Baron Fermoy.

In the late 1970s, the love life of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, became a national fodder. He was by then 31 and has not settled yet. For someone like him whose only responsibility in life is to give the throne a future heir to ensure the line of succession of the House of Windsor, Prince Charles found it difficult to find a wife who could take the role of the Princess of Wales.

But in 1980, he found her. 

Lady Diana was then 19, an innocent kindergarten assistant but whose pedigree was in line with the royal family. In fact, her grandmother, Lady Fermoy, served as the lady in waiting to Prince Charles's grandmother, the Queen Mother. 

Diana found the intrusion of the media draining. But in February 1981, when the Prince of Wales proposed, she did not hesitate to accept. But there was something missing in the would-be fairytale marriage.

Engagement ring.

Left: The couple on their engagement day

Unlike most men caught by the love bug, the future king of England seemed not prepared to pop up the question with a ring to seal his genuine intention to marry. He reportedly apologized to Diana for not having a ring to put on her finger. And promised to give her in the coming days.

The next day, Garrard's, the crown jeweler, came to Buckingham palace with a tray of expensive rings. But it was not Prince Charles who chose which piece, instead, he allowed his future bride to pick up the ring of her liking.

Young as she was, Diana did not think of anything else, doomed love or something. She was excited to be given an opportunity to choose a ring. She reportedly giggled and picked the largest one. The  stunning 12-carat blue Ceylon sapphire ring set in an 18-carat white gold band surrounded with 14 solitaire diamonds. It was valued at 75,000 pounds in 1981.

Many theories have emerged how Diana chose the ring.

Some said because it was Diana's favorite color that matched her sapphire eyes, others claimed, it was Diana's tribute to Queen Victoria who wore a brooch sapphire on her wedding day in 1839. However, some royalists criticized the way Prince Charles's offered the engagement ring, which was through a crown jeweler, 

As most royal engagement rings were custom-made and personalized, he was in bad taste when he let Diana chose the ring from already made collections because it could be available to everybody willing to purchase the piece. However, Diana did not bother, she was excited to wear the gorgeous ring that matched her dress on the day of the official announcement of their engagement.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana on their engagement photo

It went on to become the world's most famous engagement ring. And became one of Diana's most favorite piece of jewelry. She wore it everyday of her life even after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, a year before her death.

Following her death, Diana's butler, Paul Burrell, asked Prince William and Prince Harry, which Diana's position they wanted to take. Prince William chose the gold Cartier watch, a birthday present of his grandfather, the Earl Spencer, to Diana when she turned 21. Prince William knew it was one of Diana's favorite watches in her collection because it was given to her by her father.

Diana wore it everyday of her life

Prince Harry said, "I want the ring that most loved by mommy where she would often complain being hurt in the finger because it was big". Paul Burrell understood it was Diana's engagement ring he meant so he gave it to Harry. 

But years later Harry and William made an agreement that whoever will set to marry first will have the ring. In 2010, when William planned to propose to Kate Middleton, his girlfriend of eight years, Harry made true of their compact, and gave the ring to his brother.

The ring was readjusted to fit in Kate Middleton's finger. However, due to Middleton's background as a non-aristocratic commoner, the ring has been dismissively called "the commoner's ring". The Duchess of Cambridge has Diana's ring now which she put in her right ring finger with the wedding ring.

Today, the ring has replicas that can be bought anywhere. I bought mine online and it is so amazing to have a piece of Diana's most iconic ring in my finger, even just a replica. 

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