Why Princess Diana's iconic sapphire engagement ring caused a lot of controversy

By Meaghan Wray

Even from a distance, it’s easy to spot Princess Diana’s eye-catching sapphire engagement ring, which was given to Duchess Kate when her husband, Prince William, proposed. The large blue stone and surrounding circle of diamonds are undeniably striking, and while the royal jewel is a jaw-dropping heirloom it’s recently been reported that the Royal Family weren’t too fond of it at the beginning and it was actually quite controversial.

The royal distaste for the jewel isn’t based on style – you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could turn their nose up at the stunning ring! It actually has to do with the bauble’s exclusivity, or lack thereof, according to The Daily Mail. Apparently, the 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire ring wasn’t crafted specially for the late Princess of Wales or even bespoke. Rather, it was straight out of crown jeweller Garrard’s catalogue, meaning anyone with CAD$46,000 could get their hands on the piece at the time.

Diana wore her engagement ring and a Versace suit to a public appearance. Photo: © Tim Graham/Getty Images

The ring was originally inspired by a sapphire and diamond brooch given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert back in 1840. So, although it was a little too accessible for royal tastes, even with a hefty price tag, its inspiration was truly royal. Diana even continued to wear the ring after she and Prince Charles divorced in 1996, but soon after traded it in for an aquamarine ring – the same one that Prince Harry gave to Meghan Markle to wear to their wedding reception on May 19 .

Of course, the piece is much more meaningful now that Diana is no longer with the family. It was a ring that the People’s Princess reportedly selected for herself, making the fact that Prince William proposed to Kate with it all the more significant. The father of three got down on one knee while on vacation with his longtime love in Kenya, after managing to keep the jewel safe the entire time.

Prince William proposed to Kate with his mother's ring. Photo: © ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images

“I’d been carrying it around in my rucksack for about three weeks before [proposing] and I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went, I was keeping a hold of it because I knew, this thing, if it disappeared, I’d be in a lot of trouble,” William said in his and Kate’s engagement interview. “It’s my mother’s engagement ring … Obviously, she’s not around to share in the fun and excitement of all of it. This is my way of keeping [Princess Diana] sort of close to it all.”

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