It was initially donated to a thrift store decades ago, but now a dress worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, during her tour of the Gulf in the 1980s is expected to sell for more than £100,000. The ivory silk gown, featuring crystal embellishment and a theatrical pleat on one shoulder, was designed for the royal by the Emanuels, the design duo behind Diana’s iconic 1981 wedding gown.
The princess sported the long-sleeved creation to a state banquet in Bahrain in 1986, during a tour that saw Princess Diana and Prince Charles also visit Oman and Saudi Arabia. The gown was later donated to a second-hand shop by the housekeeper of Mynde Park estate, which the royal frequently visited. It was snapped up in 1994 for £200 (AED 935) by a savvy shopper, who will now auction the gown through Kerry Taylor Auctions, which has estimated the dress’s worth being between between £80,000 (AED 375,200) and £100,000 (AED 469,000).
“Many of the Princess Diana pieces that I’ve sold over the years have come from the charity auction that she held in the 1990s, but this one somehow missed that,” auctioneer Kerry Taylor told The Independent. “The lady who bought it intended to wear it to a hunt ball, which luckily she didn’t. She realized its importance only when she was watching a documentary about Princess Diana.”
The dress, which comes with a letter from designer Elizabeth Emanuel, confirming the piece was a one-off commission for the royal, will go under the hammer on December 10. The auction follows a similar sale in September, which saw sketches by the Emanuels up for bidding. The designs were crafted ahead of Princess Diana’s Gulf tour, and include a mock-up of a full-length, traditional burqa – a creation the royal considered, but did not end up wearing, for her visit to Saudi Arabia.