The True Story Behind Princess Diana’s Revenge Dress

Her dress wasn’t the only thing that made everyone's jaw drop that night.

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In June 1994, Princess Diana wore a dress not so fit for a princess—an off-the-shoulder, form-fitting black silk dress. Despite being estranged and separated from Prince Charles since 1991, Diana still embodied an elegant radiance, even if the slinky number broke royal protocol. The iconic dress was soon dubbed the “revenge dress” because of a huge confession that was heard around the world that very same night. Find out the secrets we learned about Princess Diana only after her death.

Two things happened on that fateful night—Princess Diana made a public appearance at a party hosted by Vanity Fair and Prince Charles’ tell-all documentary premiered on national television. The documentary was made in an effort to bring Prince Charles back into a more sympathetic light after his separation from Diana, who was loved by all as “the people’s princess.” Unfortunately, the film’s intent backfired when the interviewer asked Charles on screen if he’d been “faithful and honorable” to Diana during their marriage. “Yes,” Prince Charles answered. “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.” His subtle confession was all it took to land the prince back in hot water again. Here’s the reason why Princess Diana never wanted a divorce.

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“We called that “The Revenge Dress”[because] she wore that the same evening Prince Charles confessed to his adultery with Camilla,” Kerry Taylor, whose company auctioned off ten of the most recognizable Diana dresses in 2013, told womanmagazine.co.uk. “While some would have been like, ‘I can’t face it this evening,’ Diana went out in that dress looking drop-dead gorgeous. She made a big statement right there.”

But we may never know Diana’s true intentions for wearing the iconic black dress since the designer Christina Stambolian revealed that the dress had actually been made for Diana three years prior to its first appearance in the spotlight. At the time, the princess had been too nervous to wear it because she claimed it was “too daring.” In fact, Diana had initially planned on wearing a Valentino dress until her outfit of choice was released to the press ahead of the event, according to reports from the Telegraph. Instead, she made a last-minute switch and opted for the “daring” Stambolian black dress. Anna Harvey, her former stylist, said that she wanted to “look like a million dollars” that night. If the dress was Diana’s small act of revenge, she sure did look like a million bucks doing it. Next, learn more about the 9 things Princess Diana lost after her divorce from Prince Charles.

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Ashley Lewis
Ashley is an Assistant Editor at Reader’s Digest. She received her Master’s Degree from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2015. Before joining Reader’s Digest, she was a Jason Sheftell Fellow at the New York Daily News and interned at Seventeen and FOX News. When Ashley is not diligently fact-checking the magazine or writing for rd.com, she enjoys cooking (butternut squash pizza is her signature dish), binge-watching teen rom-coms on Netflix that she’s way too old for, and hiking (and falling down) mountains.