Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring: Everything You Wanted to Know

Princess Diana's engagement ring, now worn by Kate Middleton, has a surprising history behind it.

Quite possibly the most famous engagement ring in the world, the stunning blue rock that now anchors Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s ring finger is impressive even beyond the fact that it once also graced Princess Diana‘s hand. Here, everything you need to know about Princess Diana’s engagement ring.

The history of Princess Diana’s engagement ring

Prince Charles was not only one of the most eligible bachelors in the world at the time, but as heir to the throne, his choice of an engagement ring was, of course, scrutinized. And from the second young Diana Spencer was introduced to the world as the prince’s fiancé on February 24, 1981, it was. After all, Queen Victoria’s and Queen Elizabeth‘s engagement rings were custom-made. (In fact, the ring Prince Philip presented to then-Princess Elizabeth was created with stones from his mother Princess Alice’s wedding tiara).

Reportedly, the ring benefitted from wonderfully romantic—and royal—inspiration: it was is said to have paid tribute to a sapphire-and-diamond brooch Queen Victoria received from Prince Albert as a wedding present that she wore on her wedding day as her “something blue.” The Queen Mother, Prince Charles’s grandmother, also wore a sapphire engagement ring.

close up of princess diana's engagement ring on kate middleton's fingerWPA Pool/Getty Images

How much is Diana’s ring worth?

Royal fans have all admired the breathtaking beauty of Princess Diana’s engagement ring, but perhaps few realize just how precious the ring truly is. The engagement ring features a blue Ceylon sapphire that weighs an impressive 12-carats. The mega sapphire is set in 18-karat white gold, surrounded by 14 diamonds. The ring, valued at a jaw-dropping £47,000, or approximately $60,000 at the time, and is currently estimated to be £400,000 pounds ($564,000) if not much more.

The ring was so large, in fact, according to Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, Prince Harry once said, “I remember when I held mummy’s hand when I was a small boy and that ring always hurt me because it was so big.”

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Princess Diana’s ring was controversial

Despite its value, Diana’s engagement ring was controversial. Why? Incredibly, although the ring seems one-of-a-kind, it was available in a catalog from British jeweler Garrard. (Founded in London in 1735, Garrard had served as the United Kingdom’s official crown jeweler since 1843.) Unlike the storied rings of past and present queens’, Princess Diana’s engagement ring was available to anybody—it was technically available “off the rack,” and this reportedly angered the royal family. Adding to their ire was the fact that Diana reportedly selected the ring herself.

Regardless, Diana reportedly loved the ring. It only added to the sense of Diana’s wedding day as a fairy tale, when she wore the Spencer tiara and her iconic wedding dress with its 25-foot-long train. Diana was even spotted wearing the sapphire ring after her divorce to Charles was finalized.

kate middleton with prince william wearing princess diana's engagement ring; close up of the ringChris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince William proposed with Diana’s ring

After meeting at St. Andrew’s University in 2001, Prince William and his friend Kate Middleton eventually became flatmates and started dating, with their courtship lasting 10 long years. Prince William finally proposed to Kate on holiday in Kenya, after carrying the storied ring in his backpack for three weeks beforehand.

In November 2010, when William and Kate announced their engagement, he said of the iconic ring and his choice to present it to his future bride, “It’s very special, as Kate is very special. It’s my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement.”

Kate now wears the famed ring on a daily basis and has even been spotted wearing the ring while running errands and picking up groceries.

meghan markle with prince harry showing off her engagement ring; close up of ringChris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan’s engagement ring is special, too

When Prince William presented Kate Middleton with Princess Diana’s ring, Prince Harry had yet to meet the love of his life, Meghan Markle. However, although she doesn’t wear Diana’s engagement ring, Meghan does have a piece of her jewelry legacy, too: the Duchess of Sussex’s three-carat diamond cushion cut engagement ring is flanked by two diamonds from Princess Diana’s jewelry collection. Meghan also received an emerald-cut Aquamarine ring that belonged to Diana as a wedding present from Prince Harry.

Interestingly, Duchess Meghan could have ended up with the ring had things shaken out differently. After Princess Diana’s death, William and Harry both chose items that they wanted to keep. Harry selected Princess Diana’s ring, while William picked Diana’s Cartier Tank Francaise watch. When William finally decided to propose to Kate, Harry offered up their mother’s ring—and Kate ended up with the engagement ring.

Nadine Jolie Courtney
Nadine Jolie Courtney is a Virtuoso travel advisor and regular contributor to Reader's Digest, covering travel, culture, and health. A former magazine editor based in Santa Monica, she also covers lifestyle and parenting, with regular outlets including The Healthy, Oprah Mag, Town & Country, Business Insider, and many other publications. Courtney is the author of four books, including ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL, a Kirkus Best Book of 2019. Follow her on Instagram @nadinejoliecourtney