Royal Pictures from History: Diana and Grace together

They were both the stars of royal fairytales built around them that, in reality, may have had little to do with the lives they led. Princess Grace of Monaco and Diana, Princess of Wales were two of the most famous women of the 20th century and the first time their paths crossed, Diana turned to Grace for help. In this occasional series, Royal Central goes back to 1981 and the first meeting of two of history’s most famous princesses.

The Image: Princess Grace of Monaco and Lady Diana Spencer, March 15th 1981, London

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The Story

Lady Diana Spencer made her first official appearance following the announcement of her engagement to the Prince of Wales on March 15th 1981. Waiting for them at the reception at Goldsmiths Hall was another guest of honour, Princess Grace of Monaco.

Grace had been a royal for over 25 years by then, her own regal story beginning with a wedding billed as a fairytale that had captured the public imagination. Diana, Charles and Grace posed briefly for photographers at the event and the image of the princess and the royal in waiting winged its way around the world.

The two soon bonded. Diana had chosen a strapless gown by the Emmanuels for this royal debut. It was daring and, as Diana later remarked, two sizes too small. The bride to be was clearly growing uncomfortable with the attention it brought. Grace is reported to have comforted her behind the scenes with the famous words ‘Don’t worry, dear, it will only get worse’.

The Legacy

Grace was among the guests at Charles and Diana’s wedding and the two princesses had much in common including an interest in causes supporting young people and maternal health. However, their friendship was cut short when Grace died following a road accident in September 1982. Diana attended her funeral on behalf of the Royal Family. That first, iconic meeting between the two took on another significance following Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Two princesses, fairytale creations, famous lives and ultimately, a shared and sad ending.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.