Sketches of outfits designed for Princess Diana’s royal tour of the Gulf states have been unveiled, including a ‘reserve’ design for a burka for her visit to Saudi Arabia.
The five sketches, made by the Princess’s go-to design duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel ahead of the 1986 trip, are set to be sold through US auction house RR Auctions, and are expected to sell for £24,000 ($30,000).
Sketches include the black and white ballgown with exaggerated shoulders, which Diana eventually wore to a banquet hosted by Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, an embellished white evening dress worn in Bahrain, and a striped belted coat in white and navy blue, which she wore for a ‘walkabout’ on the same trip. The reserve outfit, which was never worn, featured a large bow at the waist, and would have covered the Princess from head to toe.
A note from Diana’s lady in waiting, Anne Beckwith-Smith, which is also included in the collection, details the royal’s wardrobe requirements for the trip. ‘Certain special requirements concerning dress need to be observed and I am writing to ask if it would be possible to submit to The Princess of Wales a few sketches for day and evening wear from which Her Royal Highness could select items for this tour,’ she wrote. ‘Their Royal highnesses will be visiting Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In all cases modesty is the order of the day.’ Invoices for the dresses reveal that the designs would have cost between £275 and £450.
It’s thought to be the first time that this collection has emerged onto the market. Speaking ahead of the auction of September 25th, Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of RR Auctions, said: ‘Princess Diana tried to conform to local customs by wearing concealing clothes, but still exposed her neck and left her head uncovered.’
‘At evening banquets, she appeared in the long sleeved demure dresses made especially for the tour. She did not have to wear the “reserve outfit” burka depicted in this archive. It’s a remarkable, comprehensive archive from the famously stylish royal.'
Look back at some of Princess Diana's most iconic looks in the gallery below...
The Princess donned 90's athleisure in 1995 as she left Chelsea Harbour Club in London.