Diana’s gowns, other royal items fetch millions in auction

A collection of items once owned by members of the royal family, including gowns and notes by the late Princess Diana, has fetched over £4 million at an auction in California. The sale included more than 200 items and was described by auctioneers as the most extensive collection of Diana’s personal belongings since her charity auction two months before her death in 1997.

The highlight of the auction was a magenta silk and lace off-the-shoulder evening gowns by British designer Victor Edelstein, worn by Diana in London and Germany in 1987, which sold for $910,000 (£720,000), far exceeding its initial lower estimate. Edelstein also designed the iconic navy blue dress Diana wore while dancing with John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

The auction, titled “Princess Diana’s Elegance & A Royal Collection,” took place at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in Los Angeles on June 26. It featured designs by Diana’s favorite designers, including Edelstein, Caroline Charles, and Catherine Walker. A midnight blue strapless gown by Murray Arbeid, worn by Diana in 1986 and at a Royal Opera House performance of Cinderella in 1987, sold for $780,000 (£617,000), nearly four times its lower estimate.

Another notable sale was a pink floral silk shirt gowns by Walker, worn by Diana to Prince William’s sports day at Richmond Stadium in 1988 and when leaving Prince Harry’s school in Notting Hill in 1992, which sold for $444,500 (£352,000). Proceeds from this gown will benefit Muscular Dystrophy UK, along with other specified lots.

The auction also included over 20 handwritten letters, notes, and holiday cards from Princess Diana, many of which were written to Maud Pendrey, a former housekeeper at the Spencer family home, Althorp Estate. A three-page handwritten letter to Mrs. Pendrey from 1984, written while Diana was pregnant with Harry, sold for $44,450 (£35,000), nearly 15 times its estimate. Another letter from 1985, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Pendrey and including reference photos of William and Harry, sold for $28,575 (£23,000).

Martin Nolan, co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, remarked on the auction’s success: “The phenomenal results of today’s historic auction, held just a few days before Princess Diana’s birthday, demonstrate why Diana is and always will remain one of the world’s most beloved and inspiring cultural figures. These exquisite garments, shoes, and accessories made not only fashion statements but also displayed her warmth and humanity, making Diana the most popular and greatest Royal style icon of all time.”

This auction follows the sale of a Jacques Azagury-designed dress worn by Diana in Italy in 1985, which set a new world record for the most expensive dress worn by the royal at auction, selling for over $1 million (£792,000) in December. Previously, the record was held by a 1991 velvet gown by Victor Edelstein, which sold for $604,800 (£476,437) in January.

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