Born July 1, 1961, at Park House, Sandringham, just a few hundred yards from where the royals spent their holidays, Diana Spencer was truly “the girl next door.”
The Sandringham Estate is the Queen’s private estate and took on the responsibility at the start of Her Majesty’s reign in 1952. The Spencer family shared the same enthusiasm for field sports, and in the past, they hosted the queen’s father, George VI for a day of sport at the country estate. Diana’s father was the future Earl of Spencer and equerry to the queen.
In the late 1960s, Earl Spencer built the only heated pool in Sandringham at Park House drawing the attention of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Diana spent her holidays from boarding school at Sandringham giving way to a close-up view of the royals off-duty having a day of fun. The future Princess of Wales was no stranger to the royals.
In June 1975, Diana’s father became the eighth Earl of Spencer taking over the Northamptonshire home Althorp. Althorp was the setting for the first introduction between Lady Diana and the Prince of Wales in 1977.
The royal history of the Spencer family not only began with the eighth Earl; Jane, Diana’s sister had married Robert Fellows, assistant private secretary to the queen, allowing Lady Diana to visit her sister’s home at Coldeherne Court at Kensington Palace. Robert Fellows’ royal service spanned for 20 years, ending when he retired as the private secretary to the queen in 1990.
Lady Diana traveled with her sister to Balmoral many times, and in the early 1980s, spotted Prince Charles on the banks. Rumor among the royals was becoming a reality when the courtship of Lady Diana and the Prince of Wales began.
A budding relationship between Lady Diana and Prince Charles eventually grew into an engagement in February 1981 following a courtship on the Britannia and trips to Balmoral Castle. Lady Diana became Diana Princess of Wales on July 29, 1981, wearing an ivory silk taffeta and antique lace wedding gown designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The wedding gown was hand-embroidered and featured hand-stitched sequins and more 10,000 pearls. The trimmed Carrickmacross lace, an Irish hand lace craftsmanship dating back to 1820, had belonged to Queen Mary. The 25-foot train was just as spectacular as the rest of the dress and spawned many iconic fashion trends that followed.
When we view the history of fashion and the icons celebrated, Diana, Princess of Wales used fashion not only as a statement but shaped the world of fashion with her elegance, style and allure. Diana was one of most photographed women in the world, as the world began to crave more and more glimpses into the royal lifestyle. Diana’s fashion statements were her way of engaging with the people, and her personal style grew during her years as a princess.
Designers including Catherine Walker, Versace, Victor Edelstein, David Sassoon and more created gowns, suits and daywear for Diana, who became one of the most beautifully dressed women in the world and left behind a monumental fashion and style legacy.