Princess Diana's dress from her dance with John Travolta going on display at Kensington Palace

By Heather Cichowski

Kensington Palace is reopening on July 30 after four months of being shut due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures. And there's a very special present for visitors: the iconic dress Princess Diana wore while dancing with John Travolta will be on display!

The late Princess of Wales's gown is one of the most memorable from the 1980s. She wore the Victor Edelstein midnight blue velvet dress to a reception at the White House on Nov. 9, 1985 alongside then-President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. And it instantly became famous when she and John took to the dance floor!

The famous dress was displayed on July 29, 2020 ahead of the re-opening of Kensington Palace. Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Kensington Palace's reopening after COVID-19 lockdown is significant and the dress makes it even more so. This is the first time the gown will be on display at her former home.

According to HELLO! UK, the iconic gown was acquired by Historic Royal Palaces in December 2019 for approximately $381,310. Historic Royal Palace is the independent charity that looks after Kensington Palace and other royal residences, including Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London.

MORE: Take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and more while in self-isolation

"This week, we welcome Diana, Princess of Wales’s ‘Travolta’ dress back to #KensingtonPalace," the Historic Royal Palaces Instagram posted on July 29.

Calling it "one of the most iconic fashion statements of the 20th century," the account went on to give a bit of a history of the engagement at which Diana wore the look.

"Diana was photographed 'gliding around the room' dancing with actor John Travolta, creating one of the most famous and enduring images of her career," the post continued, then going into further detail about how the dress was prepared for the exhibition. It also went through a "quarantine" of sorts!


"Since it joined our Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection in 2019, the dress has spent the last few months in quarantine (pretty much like the rest of us!) to ensure it doesn’t pass on any bugs or pests on to the rest of our priceless collection," Historic Royal Palaces explained. "Now, it’s finally ready for public display, right on time for us to reopen the doors of the palace tomorrow."

A video shows the expert curators preparing the gown to be put on the mannequin and into its display case.

In March, Historic Royal Palaces showed photos of the dress in its quarantine. The post explained Diana's gown was frozen on its arrival and was "staying that way for a while longer" until it was ready to be put with the rest of the collection, due to the aforementioned pests. Now, the time has finally arrived!

The navy gown is fondly known as the John Travolta dress, but it was a favourite of Diana's and it made a few appearances. She also sported the iconic frock to a state banquet in Germany in 1987 and to the London premiere of Wall Street in 1988. In 1997, Lord Snowdon photographed Prince William and Prince Harry's mom wearing it.

Those who are in London and want to see the dress at Kensington Palace can book tickets online.

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