Prince Harry Actually Inherited Princess Diana's Iconic Engagement Ring But Let Kate Middleton Have It

Sep 23, 2022 by apost team

William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales have a love story for the ages. The couple first met and began dating while they were both students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where they completed their undergraduate degrees. After dating for a number of years — during which they even briefly broke up — the couple got engaged in November 2010. 

The entire world watched on April 29, 2011, when William and Kate wed in a beautiful ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London. The heavily publicized wedding prompted all kinds of celebrations including street parties across England and William and Kate merchandise.

At the time there was also plenty of speculation about how the royal couple would navigate their roles when they became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Nowadays, as the Prince and Princess of Wales, the couple is particularly prominent in the royal family given that William is next in line to the throne after his father, King Charles III.

Following the couple's special day, they wasted no time in building a family, which now includes the future king, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4. Now that they're a bit older, the kids often accompany their parents to official royal events, and have even stolen the spotlight on numerous occasions!

However, one aspect of William and Kate's fairytale love story isn't so well known to the public. While it's common knowledge now that when William proposed to Kate he did so with his late mother Princess Diana's engagement ring, what many may not know is that it was his younger brother Prince Harry who initially inherited it. 

The information was revealed in a documentary on the royal family, in which Diana's former butler opened up about how Harry selflessly offered it to his brother for his proposal. 

Kate Middleton, Prince William (2005), (Getty Images)

According to Town & Country, Kate met William at the University of St. Andrews, where the two enrolled in 2001. In one of the most famous stories from their university days, the prince famously watched a charity fashion show that featured none other than Kate herself. 

The relationship moved fairly quickly and the two moved in together in a shared apartment, however it wasn't until 2004 that their relationship was out in the open. It was then that someone from the press snapped a photo of the two together while they were on a ski trip, which led to widespread knowledge of their once-private relationship.

It might seem hard to imagine now but there was a time when the couple actually separated for a brief period in 2007. Kate opened up about the split in a television interview, as reported by The Guardian. She said:

"At the time I wasn't very happy about it, but it made me a stronger person ... You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn't realized, I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me (the months apart) although I didn't think it at the time."

But love prevailed and the couple was meant to be, and it wasn't too long before they got back together. One year after their break up, the duo was spotted on another ski trip, and just two years after that, they announced their engagement. It made headlines around the world, but especially because the engagement ring William proposed to Kate with was his late mother, Princess Diana's ring.

Kate Middleton, Prince William (2010), (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

By the time the big day came around, the public was incredibly curious about the dress that Kate would wear, as she had already become well-known for her sense of style. She didn't disappoint when she stepped out in a custom gown designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Since shoulders and arms have to be covered in the church according to royal protocol, Kate went with a long-sleeved lace dress that was inspired partially by Grace Kelly's wedding dress from 1956. The public was blown away by her wedding gown and many bridal shops soon sold knock-offs of the dress. 

Since then, there have been several occasions when Kate has worn something and either the same garment or an equivalent dupe has sold out online within moments. After multiple dresses were suddenly sold out after Kate was seen wearing them, the phenomenon even got its own name, having been dubbed "the Kate effect."

For Kate's wedding, Queen Elizabeth II lent her a Cartier "halo" tiara that was made especially for her in 1936, on the occasion of her 18th birthday. Compared to her sapphire engagement ring that had once belonged to Diana, Kate's wedding ring was quite simple, and made out of Welsh gold, just like all royal wedding rings in the past century. 

In a notable moment from the ceremony, William had quite a hard time putting the ring on his wife's finger but eventually managed to do so. The prince himself, however, chose not to wear a wedding ring as he isn’t into wearing jewelry.

The couple's wedding was nothing short of fairytale perfection. Even 11 years on, photos and memories of the event are a testament to how impressive their special day was. 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2011), (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Just like their incredibly elegant wedding, the couple has proven to be a graceful image of the royal family, as they are two of the most prominent senior working royal family members.

However, although their fairytale wedding has gone down in history, it wouldn't have happened the way it did if it wasn't for Prince Harry selflessly giving his older brother their late mother's iconic engagement ring. In the documentary "The Diana Story," which was released by Amazon Prime in 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 iconic sapphire ring. Author James Patterson revealed further details in his book "Diana, William and Harry." Apparently, Harry chose the ring as he had a strong association with it:

"I remember when I held Mummy's hand when I was a small boy and that ring always hurt me because it was so big," Harry recalled.

Then 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. 

"Harry said to him: 'Wouldn't it be fitting if she had mummy's ring?',"Burrell said in the documentary. 

The former butler said Harry's "selfless" action highlights 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."

Prince Harry (2019), (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

William proposed to Kate in 2010 while on vacation in Kenya. According to Kate, 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 very personal time for both of us," Kate told ITV at the time, according to ABC News.

The princess' note in the visitor's book at the lodge where the couple stayed confirmed just as much. She wrote, as reported in the book "Diana, William and Harry": "I had a wonderful 24 hours ... I love the warm fires and candle lights — so romantic!"

William spoke further about the ring's sentimental value, as revealed in the same book. He said:

"It was my mother's engagement ring ... so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share the fun and excitement of it all — this was my way of keeping her close to it all."

Meanwhile, Kate added: "It's beautiful ... I just hope I look after it. It's very, very special."

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's no secret that Diana holds a very special place in her sons' hearts, and they've spent their adulthood continuing her legacy. For Diana's ring to be worn by William's wife — which was only made possible by Harry — is an incredibly bonding moment for the brothers.

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

Since Kate ended up becoming the new proud owner of the beautiful ring, Harry had to get creative when the time came to propose to his now-wife, Meghan Markle. For his own bride, the prince went in an entirely different direction. Instead of passing on another family heirloom, he opted for designing his own piece of jewelry, to which he even added a bit of sentiment. 

According to The Sun, the yellow-gold ring featured a central stone hailing from Botswana — a country Harry and Meghan have fond memories of — along with two smaller diamonds from Diana's collection. This meant that he was able to create something entirely new for his future wife, while also honoring his late mother and including her in the process.

Harry proposed to Meghan in November 2017 while enjoying a chicken dinner at Kensington Palace. Referring to the ring, Meghan said it meant Diana was "with us on this crazy journey together." At the time the duchess said: 

"Everything about Harry's thoughtfulness and the inclusion of Princess Diana's stones and obviously not being able to meet his mum. It's so important to me to know that she's a part of this with us."

The gorgeous ring was made by Cleave and Company, court jewelers that are famed for working on many of Queen Elizabeth's dazzling jewels.

Iconic as Diana's sapphire engagement ring might be, it actually stirred quite the controversy when Charles's engagement to Diana was first announced. When the couple made their engagement public on Feb. 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 Charles a whopping $60,000. Today, it's estimated to be worth as much as $500,000, according to Oprah Mag

Kate Middleton's engagement ring (2010), (Arthur Edwards-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

However, Diana's famous ring wasn't in the picture when Charles initially proposed. According to a biographical book about Diana's life, "Diana: Her True Story — in Her Own Words" Charles had initially proposed to her without a ring. "He said 'Will you marry me?' and I laughed," Diana revealed in the book, written by journalist Andrew Morton. "I remember thinking, this is a joke, and I said 'Yeah, OK,' and laughed. He was deadly serious," she added.

Since he didn't have a ring for her, Charles got Diana to choose one from a selection of designs by the then-crown jeweler, Garrard. That's when Diana chose the iconic sapphire piece. Her choice, however, did not sit very well with the royal family, since it wasn't the norm for a royal to wear jewelry that was not custom-made and available for public purchase. It isn't clear why Diana chose that piece. While some say it was because it featured the largest stone, others think it reminded her of her mother's engagement ring. 

In any case, she loved the ring so much that she continued to wear it even after her divorce from Charles. Known for her impeccable style, Diana accessorized her many fashionable outfits with the gorgeous sapphire ring.

Now that the ring is in Kate's possession, it will one day sit on the throne of England, just as Harry intended. Since Kate and William's son Prince George will one day be king, it's possible that the couple will pass the meaningful family heirloom on to him or perhaps even their only daughter Princess Charlotte.

Kate Middleton (2010), (Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Did you know the incredible backstory of Princess Diana and Kate Middleton's engagement ring? What is your favorite piece of royal jewelry? Let us know, and make sure you pass this along to your friends and family so they can read about it too!

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