Image caption, Princess Diana became a style icon in the 1980s and had several favorite British designers

  • Author, Thomas Mackintosh
  • Role, BBC News

A collection of items once owned by members of the royal family, including dresses and notes by the late Princess Diana, has sold for more than £4 million at auction in California.

The sale featured more than 200 items, and was billed by auctioneers as the most extensive collection of Diana’s personal belongings since she held her own charity auction two months before her death in 1997.

A magenta silk and lace off-the-shoulder evening dress designed by British Victor Edelstein, which Diana wore in London and Germany in 1987, topped the sale at $910,000 (£720,000) – four-and-a-half times its original lower estimate.

British creator Edelstein also designed the famous navy blue dress the princess wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Diana, Princess of Wales wore one of the dresses to a performance of the ballet Cinderella at the Royal Opera House in December 1987

Princess Diana’s favourite designers including Edelstein, Caroline Charles, and Catherine Walker all featured in the auction titled Princess Diana’s Elegance & A Royal Collection, which was held at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in Los Angeles on 26 June.

Meanwhile, a Murray Arbeid midnight blue strapless gown Princess Diana wore twice in 1986 and to a Royal Opera House performance of Cinderella in 1987 also topped its estimate.

The gown sold for $780,000 (£617,000), almost four times its lower estimate.

Image caption, The auction believed to be the most extensive collection of Princess Diana’s personal belongings since 1997

A pink floral silk shirt dress designed by Walker, which Diana wore to Prince William’s sports day at Richmond Stadium in 1988 as well as leaving Prince Harry’s school in Notting Hill in 1992, sold for $444,500 (£352,000).

A portion of the auction proceeds from this gown will benefit Muscular Dystrophy UK, alongside other specified lots.

The auction also featured more than 20 handwritten letters, notes, and holiday cards from Princess Diana.

Many of the letters were written to Maud Pendrey, a former housekeeper at the Spencer family home at the Althorp Estate in Northamptonshire, where Diana grew up.

Image caption, A 1982 signed photograph of Princess Diana and Prince William (L) and a 1993 signed holiday card with photo

A three-page handwritten letter to Mrs Pendrey in 1984, written when Diana was pregnant with Harry, sold for nearly 15 times its estimate at $44,450 (£35,000).

While a two-page handwritten letter to Mr and Mrs Pendrey from Diana in 1985, which featured reference photos of William and Harry.

Diana signed the letter “This comes with much love from the four of us” – and it sold for $28,575 (£23,000).

Image caption, Handwritten cards featured in Princess Diana’s Elegance & A Royal Collection at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles

“The phenomenal results of today’s historic auction held just a few days before Princess Diana’s birthday demonstrates why Diana is and always will remain one of the world’s most beloved and inspiring cultural figures,” Martin Nolan, co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, said.

“These exquisite garments, shoes and accessories made not only fashion statements but also displayed her warmth and humanity that made Diana the most popular and greatest Royal style icon of all time.”

Previously, the most expensive dress worn by Princess Diana and sold at auction was a 1991 velvet gown by Victor Edelstein which sold for $604,800 (£476,437) in January.

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