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British RoyalsFashion

The night Diana turned a famous royal gem into a headliner

All eyes were on the Princess of Wales Friday evening as she sported an emerald choker once popularised by her late mother-in-law, but for royal watchers, it was a callback to a special night in 1985 when the choker was worn as a headband by Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 1985, Diana’s popularity was at its zenith. A fashion plate, a royal innovator for the way she carried out engagements and broached subjects once deemed too controversial, and the wife of a future king, she travelled the world on behalf of the British government and the Royal Family.

The then-Prince and Princess of Wales were on a tour of Australia in 1985 when Diana set fashion hearts blazing with her innovative use of an emerald choker as a headband. The royal couple arrived at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne on the evening of 31 October for a night of dancing when fashion history was made.

According to reports, Diana had been attempting to fit the choker over her head rather than clasping it around her neck when it got stuck at nose level. A Canadian diplomat accompanying them remarked that she should wear it as a headband when Diana proclaimed, “My honker’s too big,” and she followed his advice.

The emerald and diamond choker had been a wedding present from Queen Elizabeth II in 1981, its history dating back to her beloved grandmother, Queen Mary, who received the jewels in 1911 from the Ladies of India as part of the Delhi Durbar Parure when her husband, George V, ascended to the throne and became Emperor of India.

The necklace was modified in the 1920s to fit the Art Deco style at the time and has remained in this design. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the necklace from Queen Mary upon her death in 1953 but was never photographed in the necklace. Instead, it was saved for Diana’s use in the 1980s, and she wore it frequently throughout the decade.

After Diana’s death, the necklace appeared in jewellery exhibits but had not been worn by a member of the Royal Family until Catherine wore it in Boston for the Earthshot Prize ceremony.

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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.