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Tiny handprints of little princes mark iconic dress of Diana, Princess of Wales

An exhibition featuring 25 of the late Diana, Princess of Wales’s most famous frocks will open on 24 February 2017 at Kensington Palace and will run throughout the year. One dress, to be shown at Diana: Her Fashion Story, is getting a great amount of attention. It’s believed that the tiny handprints, which are barely visible, on the dress are those of either Prince William, Prince Harry or both.

Catherine Walker, pink suit. © Historic Royal Palaces, photographer: Richard Lea-Hair

Diana had the silk and velvet dress commissioned for private royal events in 1985 by designer Victor Edelstein. And, though it’s been over 30 years since the dress has been worn, the tiny fingerprints have been wonderfully preserved.

The handprints can be seen on this dress. © Historic Royal Palaces, photographer: Richard Lea-Hair

Diana donated this dress to a charity auction in 1997. It was sold to a private bidder before it found its way to the exhibition. The curator for the Historic Royal Palaces, Eleri Lynn, told the Daily Mirror: “How incredible to think these teeny, tiny prints from the princes’ little hands could have lasted all this time. The dress was a favourite of Diana’s and worn many times in private.”

Victor Edelstein, bottle green velvet dress with the handprints. © Historic Royal Palaces, photographer: Richard Lea-Hair

The Historic Royal Palaces organised the exhibition which opens later this month. It shows the evolution of Diana’s fashion from the romantic looks of her first public appearances to the more sophisticated glamorous pieces she wore toward the end of her short life. One other famous, or infamous dress, included in the exhibition is the black velvet gown by Victor Edelstein that the Princess wore at the White House when she danced with John Travolta.

Diana at the White House in 1985 dancing with John Travolta (not pictured). Photo: US Government Work (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Eleri Lynn also said about the exhibit as a whole: “Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the most photographed women in the world, and every fashion choice she made was closely scrutinised. Our exhibition explores the story of a young woman who had to quickly learn the rules of royal and diplomatic dressing, who in the process put the spotlight on the British fashion industry and designers.

“We see her growing in confidence throughout her life, increasingly taking control of how she was represented, and intelligently communicating through her clothes. This is a story many women around the world can relate to, and we hope many visitors will join us next year, to get a closer look at some of Diana’s most iconic outfits, on display in her former home.”

The Belville Sasoon black and white silk satin cocktail dress. © Historic Royal Palaces, photographer: Richard Lea-Hair

To coincide and compliment the fashion exhibition, a White Garden will be planted and is scheduled to open this spring. Diana was known to admire the gardens and would often stop to speak with the gardeners. It was “inspired by memories of the Princess’s life, image and style” and those visiting Kensington Palace will be able to view both the White Garden and the fashion exhibition.

About the gardens, Sean Harkin, Gardens Team Leader, at Kensington Palace remarked: “It’s a great privilege for myself and my team to care every day for the beautiful gardens of Kensington Palace, and we’re looking forward to creating a White Garden next year which celebrates the life of one the palace’s most famous residents: Diana, Princess of Wales. We hope to capture the energy and spirit which made her such a popular figure around the world.”

Catherine Walker, blue chiffon ‘Grace Kelly’ dress. © Historic Royal Palaces, photographer: Richard Lea-Hair

Diana: Her Fashion Story will replace the popular ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition in Kensington Palace’s Pigott Galleries. For those interested in seeing the exhibition, all information about ticket prices and events can be found on the Historic Royal Palace website.

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