Princess Diana Reportedly Upset the Queen by Miswearing a Royal Heirloom in Public

Princess Diana reportedly irritated the Queen in 1985 when she wore a royal heirloom necklace as a headpiece in Melbourne.

melbourne, australia october 31 diana, princess of wales, wearing a green satin evening dress designed by david and elizabeth emanuel and an emerald necklace as a headband, attends a gala dinner dance at the southern cross hotel on october 31, 1985 in melbourne, australiaphoto by anwar husseingetty images
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein)
  • During her time as a royal, Princess Diana pushed the envelope in many ways, including with her fashion choices.
  • In 1985, she turned heads when she wore an emerald choker necklace as a headpiece at a gala event in Melbourne, Australia.
  • The piece was a royal heirloom and had been a gift from the Queen, who was reportedly "irritated" by Diana's decision to wear it in a nontraditional way.

Princess Diana (opens in new tab) was a trailblazer, a game-changer, a risk-taker, a—let's face it—rule-breaker. These are great qualities in a lot of ways. They are not, however, qualities that the Queen always appreciates, especially in the moments when they motivated Diana to buck royal traditions (opens in new tab) the Queen did not think warranted said bucking.

The Queen was apparently frustrated by one of Diana's most iconic and creative fashion moments (opens in new tab) of her royal career. The fashion moment in question went down in 1985, when Diana and her then-husband, Prince Charles (opens in new tab), were attending a gala dinner dance at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

Diana paired her stunning green, satin evening dress from David and Elizabeth Emanuel with a royal heirloom: An art deco, emerald choker from Queen Mary that the Queen had passed on to Diana after she joined the royal family.

The Queen didn't mind that Diana was showing off the necklace (opens in new tab) (it was one of her favorites and she wore it several times over the years). She was irked by how Diana wore it—which was as a headpiece, rather than a choker. 

Behold:

melbourne, australia october 31 prince charles, prince of wales and diana, princess of wales, wearing a green satin evening dress designed by david and elizabeth emanuel and an emerald necklace as a headband, attend a gala dinner dance at the southern cross hotel on october 31, 1985 in melbourne, australia photo by anwar husseingetty images

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein)

"What Diana was wearing while dancing around in her husband's arms was actually a necklace that was part of the Crown Jewels that she had been given by Queen Elizabeth herself," royal commentator Debora Attanasio told Marie Claire Italia (per Express (opens in new tab)). "It was a piece that the Queen was very fond of, but which she, in turn, decided to pass on to Diana as a wedding gift. According to sources close to the Queen, having seen what Diana had done with it, Her Majesty became very irritated."

It apparently wasn't really Diana's idea to wear the choker that way though and the inspiration for the look came about totally by accident. According to royal biographer Kitty Kelley (opens in new tab) in her book The Royals (opens in new tab)Diana tried to put the choker on over her head (rather than have someone help her clasp it) because she was in a hurry to get ready for the event. When it got stuck and wouldn't go over her nose, Canadian diplomat Victor Chapman reportedly talked her into wearing it as a headpiece instead.

"Diana took the necklace and put it over her head rather than wait to have it clasped around her neck. She couldn’t get it over the bridge of her nose," Kelley wrote. "Vic roared. 'Leave it there, he said, 'It’s young and fun, like you'."

So...she did.

melbourne, australia october 01 princess diana in melbourne, australia photo by tim graham photo library via getty images

(Image credit: Tim Graham)

FWIW, Charles seemed fine with the look. The pictures of him and Diana dancing at the event are some of the happiest pictures of the couple together:

melbourne, australia october 30 prince and princess of wales dancing together during a visit to melbourne, australia photo by tim graham photo library via getty images

(Image credit: Tim Graham)

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