diana-wardrobe

A newly uncovered palace letter has revealed just how much planning went into Princess Diana's incredible wardrobe

One word: wow

Fiona Ward

Princess Diana's legacy expands far, far further than fashion - but 21 years later, we are still undoubtedly fascinated by her timeless style. In fact, Boston-based RR Auctions is now preparing to auction a collection belonging to the People's Princess that shows just how much preparation went into her wardrobe – even including a letter from her lady-in-waiting that details the specific requirements for her 1986 Gulf Tour. The typed letter, from Anne Beckwith-Smith to Elizabeth Emanuel (of husband and wife design duo the Emanuels, who also created Diana's iconic wedding dress), described exactly what she would need for her trip to the Middle East.

diana-letter

The original letter

"Certain special requirements concerning dress need to be observed and I am writing to ask if it would be possible to submit to The Princess of Wales a few sketches for day and evening wear from which Her Royal Highness could select items for this tour," it reads. "Their Royal Highnesses will be visiting Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia…In all cases modesty is the order of the day."

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Also amongst the collection is a variety of sketches for Diana's evening and daywear – including that of a black and white evening gown that she wore with a sparkling tiara for a dinner with the Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia, and a pretty collared red day dress she is thought to have worn during a visit to Qatar. There is also a design of a traditional burka, in case she might need it.

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Diana's monochrome evening gown

For the tour, Diana kept things conservative by choosing lower hemlines and keeping her arms and shoulders covered – also wearing a hat when appropriate. Interestingly, the archive also shows her invoices from the Emanuels, showing that just like today's royals, she paid for all her own clothing. Her red silk day dress, for example, cost £275.

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Other sketches for the tour

One now-iconic photograph of Diana sat with her favourite designers choosing clothing fabrics was in fact taken in preparation of her trip to the Gulf states – an original colour version of which is included in the collection, which will soon go under the hammer. Quite the slice of fashion history, eh...

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