During her time as a royal, Princess Diana pushed the envelope in many ways, including with her fashion choices.
In 1985, she turned heads when she wore an emerald choker necklace as a headpiece at a gala event in Melbourne, Australia.
The piece was a royal heirloom and had been a gift from the Queen, who was reportedly “irritated” by Diana’s decision to wear it in a nontraditional way.
Princess Diana was a trailblazer, a game-changer, a risk-taker, a—let’s face it—rule-breaker. These are great qualities in a lot of ways. They are not, however, qualities that the Queen always appreciates, especially in the moments when they motivated Diana to buck royal traditions the Queen did not think warranted said bucking.
The Queen was apparently frustrated by one of Diana’s most iconic and creative fashion moments of her royal career. The fashion moment in question went down in 1985, when Diana and her then-husband, Prince Charles, were attending a gala dinner dance at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.
Diana paired her stunning green, satin evening dress from David and Elizabeth Emanuel with a royal heirloom: An art deco, emerald choker from Queen Mary that the Queen had passed on to Diana after she joined the royal family.
The Queen didn’t mind that Diana was showing off the necklace (it was one of her favorites and she wore it several times over the years). She was irked by how Diana wore it—which was as a headpiece, rather than a choker.
“What Diana was wearing while dancing around in her husband’s arms was actually a necklace that was part of the Crown Jewels that she had been given by Queen Elizabeth herself,” royal commentator Debora Attanasio told Marie Claire Italia (per Express). “It was a piece that the Queen was very fond of, but which she, in turn, decided to pass on to Diana as a wedding gift. According to sources close to the Queen, having seen what Diana had done with it, Her Majesty became very irritated.”
It apparently wasn’t really Diana’s idea to wear the choker that way though and the inspiration for the look came about totally by accident. According to royal biographer Kitty Kelley in her book The Royals, Diana tried to put the choker on over her head (rather than have someone help her clasp it) because she was in a hurry to get ready for the event. When it got stuck and wouldn’t go over her nose, Canadian diplomat Victor Chapman reportedly talked her into wearing it as a headpiece instead.
“Diana took the necklace and put it over her head rather than wait to have it clasped around her neck. She couldn’t get it over the bridge of her nose,” Kelley wrote. “Vic roared. ‘Leave it there,’ he said, ‘It’s young and fun, like you.’”
Charles seemed fine with the look. The pictures of him and Diana dancing at the event are some of the happiest pictures of the couple together:
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