The True Story Behind Princess Diana’s Revenge Dress

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Her dress wasn’t the only thing that made jaws drop that night!

In June 1994, Princess Diana wore a dress not-so-fit for a princess. Soon called Princess Diana’s “revenge dress,” it was an off-the-shoulder, form-fitting, black silk dress. Despite this, Diana still embodied an elegant radiance—even if the slinky number broke royal protocol.

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Princess Diana’s “revenge dress”

This iconic look was soon dubbed Princess Diana’s “revenge dress.” Sure, she looked great in it. But it also became a “revenge” dress because of the news that broke that very same night.

A huge confession

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 put Prince Charles back into a more sympathetic light after his separation from Diana in 1991. (She was, after all, loved by all as “the people’s princess.”)

Unfortunately, the film’s intent backfired. The interviewer asked Charles if he had 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.

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PRINCESS DIANANILS JORGENSEN/REX/Shutterstock

How it became the “revenge dress”

“We call it the “revenge dress” [because] she wore it the same evening Prince Charles confessed to his adultery with Camilla,” said Kerry Taylor. Taylor’s company auctioned off ten of the most recognizable Diana dresses back in 2013. “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.”

But we may never know Diana’s true intentions for wearing the iconic black dress. The designer of Princess Diana’s revenge dress, Christina Stambolian, revealed that the dress had actually been made for Diana three years prior. At the time, the princess had been too nervous to wear it because it was “too daring.”

In fact, Diana had initially planned on wearing a different dress to this event. Instead, she made a last-minute switch and opted for the revenge 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, read the story behind the Spencer Tiara—one of Diana’s favorite tiaras.

RELATED: Rarely Seen Photos of Princess Diana 

Princess Diana Wearing a HatBettmann/Getty Images

Times Princess Diana's Body Language Told the Real Story

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.