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British Royals

The most famous royal engagement ring of all

When Kate Middleton arrived for her engagement photocall on 16 November 2010, she wore on her ring finger perhaps the most famous royal engagement ring of all time: the late Diana, Princess of Wales’s oval sapphire ring.

Diana received her engagement ring from Prince Charles in February 1981, choosing it from a tray of different rings. It was not a custom-made ring, in fact, it was available for purchase in a Garrard’s jewellery collection, and anyone could buy it. Diana reportedly chose it for a variety of reasons: that it resembled her mother’s engagement ring; that it was the largest of the bunch; or that she liked it the best.

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The now-iconic engagement ring features a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds and set on an 18-karat white gold band. Its inspiration was a sapphire-and-diamond brooch gifted to Queen Victoria on her wedding day from her husband, Prince Albert.

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Diana continued to wear her engagement ring throughout her life, even after she and Prince Charles had divorced. After her death, it was inherited by her eldest son, William, and when he proposed to Kate in Kenya in October 2010, he did so with her ring.

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William told Tom Bradby in an interview following their engagement announcement, “I thought it was quite nice because obviously, she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”

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When the future duchess received the engagement ring, she had it resized to fit her finger as she’d lost weight. The new Crown Jewellers, G Collins and Sons, added two platinum studs to fit her finger.

Prince William said, “It’s my mother’s engagement ring, so of course it’s very special to me, and Kate’s now very special to me, so it was only right to put the two together.” Kate said, “It’s very, very special.”

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.