Princess Diana is one of the Royal Family's most enduring fashion icons – but who knew one of her most casual pieces could hold such profound meaning all these years later? While touring the Italian Riviera on a yacht with her then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed in the summer of 1997, Diana gave her Ralph Lauren USA pullover to a lucky stewardess, who has cherished the item for more than a decade. Now, it’s up for auction and expected to garner a whopping $10,000.
The article of clothing was given to Deborah Gribble, who was chief stewardess and one of only five staff members aboard the Jonikal yacht, owned by Dodi’s father Mohamed Al-Fayed. As a thank you for her service, the Princess of Wales passed along the off-white sweatshirt, only to tragically pass away in a car crash evading paparazzi a few hours later. As anyone else would do, Deborah hung onto the sweatshirt for quite some time, but has since decided to let it go for auction on RR Auction.
Though Princess Diana was very much a people person, spending much of her time giving back to charities and meeting with the people they directly support, parts of her life were very private – and Deborah was one of few who got an insider glimpse. She described the princess as “relaxed, fun and light” and never wearing a full face of makeup.
“I felt very privileged to be in this secret environment. We anchored in beautiful secluded bays of Sardinia where the water is so turquoise and clear,” she gushed to Women’s Wear Daily last year. “Any time Diana was in view in public the media was there. In this case, when she was not in view [to the public], there was no media.”
Diana was really excited to get back to things in England, sadly unaware that her life would end only a few hours after disembarking the yacht. “She mentioned looking forward to getting back. She wanted to see her boys and she liked to go to the gym – that was a big thing she mentioned a few times to me,” Deborah revealed. “She also missed eating at more of a British time, which is a 6 or 7 o’clock as opposed to 10 o’clock in the Mediterranean. She really was living a totally different lifestyle than she was used to.”