While many know about the late Princess of Wales’ stunning sapphire engagement ring, they may be surprised to hear about Prince Charles’ engagement gift to Princess Diana. So, what was it?
A new report by HELLO! reveals that the Prince of Wales gifted his then-fiancée a car before their nuptials. The vehicle—a silver Ford Escort—was given to Diana from Charles in May 1981, just two months before their royal wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Princess of Wales went on to enjoy the car for another year until she decided to stop using the 1.6L Ghia saloon after the birth of her first son, Prince William, in 1982. But that doesn’t mean she got rid of it. The vehicle still exists all these years later—and according to HELLO!, it was just sold in its original condition.
A Chilean museum purchased the car at auction on Tuesday, June 29, for a reported £52,640 (approximately $72,900), selling well above the original estimate of £30,000-£40,000, HELLO! reports. According to the site, Diana’s car still has its original license plate—WEV 297W—and around 83,000 miles logged. It will now be shipped to South America, a move that auctioneer Lewis Rabett of Reeman Dansie Auctions in Colchester, Essex, says is a “testament” to Diana’s global impact.
“The interest has been considerable pre-auction,” Rabett said. “[The car] ending up in South America is testament to the level of interest globally that there’s been. It’s also testament to Diana and her enduring legacy.”
News of this sale comes just days before a tribute for Diana set to take place in the United Kingdom on what would have been the Princess of Wales’ 60th birthday on Thursday, July 1. A statue will be unveiled at Kensington Palace in honor of the late royal. Prince Charles is not expected to attend the ceremony, however. The Prince of Wales, who divorced Diana a year before her tragic death in 1997 and went on to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, reportedly wants to avoid bringing up any “old wounds” over his affair at the event.
“These moments have the potential to resurface old wounds, and it brings back memories for him; happy, sad, regretful,” the source told The Times in a report published on Sunday, June 27. “Since Diana’s death, he has felt it’s best to keep those memories to himself and leave his sons to it.”
While their father won’t be joining them, both Prince William and Harry are expected to attend. The Duke of Sussex has already arrived in the U.K. ahead of the unveiling ceremony on Friday, June 25. His wife, Meghan Markle, is expected to remain home with their 2-year-old son Archie and newborn daughter, Lilibet. Duchess Kate, meanwhile, will also be absent from the ceremony for a “telling” reason.