Kate Middleton’s Iconic Engagement Ring Is Controversial Because of Princess Diana

Jul 20, 2021 by apost team

It's common knowledge by now that when Prince William proposed to his wife Kate Middleton, he did so with his late mother Princess Diana's engagement ring. What many may not know, however, is that it was his younger brother Prince Harry who initially inherited it. 

The new information was revealed in a documentary about the royal family, in which a former butler who worked for Princess Diana said Prince Harry 'selflessly' offered it to his brother for his proposal. 

In the recent documentary "The Diana Story," released by Amazon Prime in September of 2017, Paul Burrell, a former butler of Diana's, confirmed that Harry originally inherited the late princess' engagement ring.  According to The Sun, Harry was told to pick out some of his late mother's jewels after she died in 1997. One of the gems he had chosen was the $400,000 iconic sapphire ring.

In 2010, when William revealed he was planning to propose to his then-girlfriend Kate, his younger brother offered him the ring as a tribute to their mother. This was a beautiful gesture indeed, and one that William and Kate will likely be grateful about for a long time. 

The beautiful Ceylon sapphire ring is one of the most famous and beloved pieces of jewelry in the world today, but when it was first purchased, it was not welcomed by members of the royal family. There was a controversy surrounding Diana's choice of engagement ring because it was not "bespoke" or custom-made as is required for all senior members of the royal family. 

Princess Diana (1983), (Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images)

Iconic as Princess Diana's sapphire engagement ring might be, it actually stirred quite the controversy when Prince Charles' engagement to Diana was first announced. When the couple made their engagement public on February 24, 1981, they also revealed the ring for the first time, which featured a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire stone, surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds sitting on 18-karat white gold. At the time, the ring was said to have cost Prince Charles a whopping $60,000. Today, it's estimated to be worth as much as $500,000, according to Oprah Mag

According to Princess Diana's biographical book, "Diana: Her True Story--in Her Own Words," Charles had initially proposed to her without a ring. However, he got Diana to choose one from a selection of designs by the then-Crown jeweler, Gerrard and the iconic sapphire piece was the top choice. This choice, however, did not sit very well with the Royal family as it wasn't the norm for a Royal to wear jewelry that was not custom-made and available for public purchase. 

ELLE reported that because the ring was not "exclusive" enough and came from a catalog where anyone with enough money could purchase the same piece, it was apparently looked down upon by members of the royal family.

Moreover, even though it is believed that Diana herself chose the ring, House of Garrard reported that it was actually Charles' choice. "Prince Charles had always seen this beautiful sapphire brooch of his mother's," the jewelry brand told Marie Claire in 2017, and "when he went to House of Garrard he saw that ring, and thought it was perfect."


Prince William, Catherine (2010), (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In any case, Diana loved the ring so much she continued to wear it even after her divorce from Charles. The ring is one of many royal jewelry pieces that are passed throughout the royal family.

Even though the ring belonged to Harry, he handed it over to William to propose to his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton. William proposed to Kate in 2010 while on vacation in Kenya. According to the duchess, the proposal came as a huge surprise. "He's a true romantic and we had a wonderful holiday in Africa and it was out there in a very quiet lodge and it was very romantic and it was a very personal time for both of us," Middleton told ITV, according to ABC News.

According to William, proposing with Diana's engagement ring meant his late mother "didn't miss out" on their special day. "Well as you may recognize now, it's my mother's engagement ring and it's very special to me, as Kate is very special to me now as well. It was only right the two were put together," he said at the time.  

It was a beautiful gesture from Harry to give the ring to his brother. According to ELLEPaul Burell, a former butler of Diana's, recalled, "Harry said to him: 'Wouldn't it be fitting if she had mummy's ring?'" The former butler said Prince Harry's "selfless" action highlighted the qualities Diana raised her children to have, 

"Then one day that ring will be sat on the throne of England. Harry gave up his precious treasure," Burrell added.  "His one thing he kept from his mother, he gave to his brother. That's selfless, kind and exactly who Diana was."

Catherine (2012), (Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

Did you know that Princess Diana's ring was controversial at the time? What are your thoughts about the ring? Tell us about them, and if you learned something, pass this onto your friends as well. 

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