There is no more famous engagement ring in the world than the one that Prince William presented to Kate Middleton ahead of their 2011 wedding. “It’s my mother’s engagement ring, so of course it’s very special to me,” William explained when asked by journalist Tom Bradby why he chose to use Diana, Princess of Wales’s ring for the proposal. “As Kate is very special to me now as well, it’s only right the two were put together. It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement and the fact we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
While the Princess of Wales has never commented on her ring before, she broke with tradition during a royal walk about this week in the run-up to her 12th wedding anniversary on April 29. Speaking to the crowds in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, she revealed that she had never had to have the ring adjusted in any way. “It’s exactly the same size—it is very special,” she said. “What an honor to be able to wear it.”
Diana selected her engagement ring from a tray of diamonds and sapphires presented to her at Windsor Castle by the royal jeweler Garrard in 1981. In a move met with raised eyebrows from Buckingham Palace, the 19-year-old bride-to-be chose the largest ring on offer: a 12-carat Sri Lankan sapphire surrounded by 18 diamonds and set in an 18-carat gold band, costing £28,500. When she appeared alongside Prince Charles to formally announce their engagement shortly afterwards, Diana wore a Cojana suit she had plucked off the rack at Harrods during a shopping trip with her mother, its royal blue hue emphasizing the color of her chosen stone.
Purchasing a ring from Garrard’s catalog was considered unusual at the time given that most royal engagement rings have historically been bespoke. Prince Philip had the Queen’s ring made with diamonds from a tiara that once belonged to his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, for example. Yet, while Diana’s design could be purchased by any member of the public, it was inspired by royalty, according to Garrard—specifically, a brooch that Prince Albert had created for Queen Victoria ahead of their marriage, which she wore on her wedding day as her “something blue”.
Even though her ring made sapphires the stone of choice for a generation of brides, Diana would later admit to having mixed feelings about the design she picked on that fateful day in 1981. Tellingly, before her wedding, she frequently neglected to wear it. in The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown includes a story from Lady Mountbatten about meeting Charles and Diana for lunch at Broadlands, and asking to see “the ring”. “Diana said it was in her bag in the sitting room,” Mountbatten reportedly told journalist and former MP Gyles Brandreth. “’Charles, go and fetch it,’ she said. And he did.”
Fortunately, the current Princess of Wales is fully enamored with both the ring and her husband, with the couple sharing a never-before-seen photograph of themselves in Norfolk in honor of their 12-year anniversary. With the coronation just around the corner, expect many more displays of solidarity from the Wales camp in the days ahead.
Originally Appeared on Vogue
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