Though it has been misreported in the past that Prince Harry was bequeathed Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring and later gave it to brother Prince William to propose to Kate Middleton with, it was William that actually inherited the ring as part of Diana’s will, in which the late Princess of Wales wrote down several final wishes. The original document, per The Daily Express, was signed by Diana on June 1, 1993 (one month before her thirty-second birthday) and amended in 1996. Diana, of course, would have had no idea that she would die in a car accident the next year, on August 31, 1997, at just 36 years old.
Her mother, Frances Ruth Shand Kydd, and sister Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale were named as co-executors and trustees for the will, which outlined that nearly all of Diana’s possessions be divided between sons William and Harry. Her 17 godchildren received the rest, and 50,000 pounds was given to her butler, Paul Burrell. “According to reports, Diana wanted the bulk of her estate to be placed in a trust, which she requested William and Harry have access to when they turned 25,” The Daily Express reports.
The court did allow Diana’s mother and sister to change a few of the will’s details, and one of those altered details was the age at which the princes received their share—which was upped from 25 to 30.
One item that Harry was to be given on his thirtieth birthday in 2014? His mother’s 1981 wedding dress, made up of thousands of pearls, layers of silk, and a 25-foot train. After a global tour, it was returned to Harry the year he turned 30—and two years before he met the woman who would become his wife, Meghan Markle. Prior to this, it had been looked after by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, and had been the centerpiece of an exhibition which raised money for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
“That gown has earned its keep,” said David Emanuel, who designed the gown with his wife, Elizabeth. “It has been around the globe many, many times. I think more people abroad have seen it than British people. What’s extraordinary is, after so many years, people are still talking about it.”
Including us, it seems—and the care Diana took to make sure Harry received it someday.
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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