- 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 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 the Queen did not think warranted said bucking.
The Queen was apparently frustrated by one of Diana's most iconic and creative fashion moments of her royal career. The fashion moment in question went down in 1985, when Diana and her then-husband, Prince Charles, 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 (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.
"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). "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 in her book The Royals, 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'."
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:
Princess Diana's Most Iconic Fashion Moments
May 22, 1997
Princess Diana visited The Shaukat Memorial Hospital in Pakistan. She wore a traditional blue ensemble and carried a handbag from Tod's, which is named after her.
January 13, 1997
For a visit to the Luanda airport, Princess Di wore Superga sneakers.
January 1, 1997
Princess Diana spotted in NYC wore a foam green skirt suit and carried a white Chanel bag.
September 12, 1996
Princess Diana stunned in a white Versace mini dress while attending a concert in Italy.
Princess Diana wore a John Galliano slip dress to the Met Gala.
June 29, 1994
Princess Diana arrived at the Serpentine Gallery in London. She opted for an off-the-shoulder dress by Christina Stambolian. (You can shop a similar one here.)
Princess Diana and Prince William attended the christening of her niece in Sandringham in a houndstooth ensemble and Chanel slingbacks.
May 1, 1990
Princess Diana donned a Catherine Walker suit with a Philip Somerville hat to visit Heroes' Square in Budapest.
April 11, 1990
The royal enjoyed a beach holiday in Necker with her sons. She chose an animal print one-piece swimsuit and wore a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Princess Diana attended the performance of Swan Lake in London. She wore a Catherine Walker gown.
Princess Diana and Prince Harry were spotted leaving nursery school. Lady Di wore a pink buttoned dress and accessorized with a Cartier watch.
March 17, 1989
Princess Diana visited Dubai during her official tour of the Gulf States. Lady Di wore Catherine Walker ensemble and a Philip Somerville hat.
March 15, 1989
The princess wore a pink and red color block Catherine Walker dress and a Philip Somerville hat during her official tour of the Gulf States.
November 9, 1988
Princess Diana wore Catherine Walker white ensemble in Chambord, France during her official visit to the country.
June 23, 1988
Princess Diana visited the Royal Hampshire Regiment. She was seen wearing a jumpsuit and a pair of pink Converse sneakers.
July 18, 1986
Princess Diana, seen on the steps of her home in Highgrove, Gloucestershire. She wore gingham trousers, pink sweater, and white boat shoes (shop similar).
November 3, 1985
The royal attended a polo match in Australia. She choose a striped shirt dress and accessorized with a D initial necklace and a Patek Philippe gold watch.
Princess Diana visited Raf Wittering. She opted for a Catherine Walker coat dress.
Princess Diana wore green Barbour coat during a tour of the Western Isles.
June 30, 1985
Princess Diana attended a polo match while wearing a white sailor top, floral skirt, and a Patek Philippe watch.
May 4, 1985
Princess Diana wore a Bruce Oldfield dress during a visit to Venice. (Shop a similar blue strong shoulder dress.)
April 1, 1985
Princess Diana visited Livorno while wearing a Jasper Conran suit ensemble and tie.
The royal wore a beige Caroline Charles coat during a visit to Derby.
July 29, 1983
Princess Diana attended a polo match in West Sussex while wearing seersucker trousers, a white top, and acetate aviator sunglasses (shop similar).
July 24, 1983
Princess Diana attended a polo match in Windsor. She was seen wearing a polka dot dress (shop similar), a coin necklace, and two watches. She was known for wearing two watches during matches to bring Prince Charles luck.
Princess Diana opted for a Muir & Osborne black sheep sweater for a polo match.
During an official tour to Australia, Princess Diana wore a pink polka dot dress by Donald Campbell (shop similar) and a matching hat by John Boyd.
Princess Diana wore a green spotted dress and a Patek Philippe watch for a visit to Auckland, New Zealand.
May 6, 1981
The royal couple were photographed together at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland. Lady Di wore a colorful alpaca sweater, corduroy trousers, and Hunter rain boots.
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