Ben Cawthra/REX/ShutterstockIt’s hard to miss the giant rock on Kate Middleton’s left ring finger. The stunning sapphire and diamond engagement ring Prince William proposed with has been valued at a jaw-dropping £300,000 (nearly $400,000). The real standout about the ring isn’t its price tag, though—it’s the sweet history behind it.
The engagement ring first belonged to Princess Diana. (Don’t miss these other 18 times Kate wore Diana-inspired fashion.) When she and Prince Charles were shopping from the official royal jeweler, Garrard, in 1981, one caught Charles’ eye: a 12-carat sapphire studded with 14 diamonds.
The ring’s design looked remarkably similar to the brooch Prince Albert had custom-made for Queen Victoria before they got married in 1840. Victoria wore it as her “something blue” during the wedding, and loved it enough that it became one of her go-to accessories until Albert died in 1861, according to Vogue. (For more inspiration from royal brides, learn the perfumes Elizabeth, Diana, and Kate wore to their weddings.)
After Queen Victoria died, her will mandated that the brooch would become a Crown heirloom, so it needs to stay with the royal family. Queen Elizabeth II has been known to wear it on special days, like meeting John F. Kennedy and at Prince William’s christening.
With such a history behind the design, it’s no surprise Charles ended up proposing with the sapphire ring. (Don’t miss this other secret message Diana wore on her wedding day.)
When Diana died in 1997, her sons were brought to Kensington Palace to select a “keepsake,” according to the Daily Star. Here’s where the twist comes in—William picked a Cartier watch, while Harry was the one to choose her engagement ring.
Fast-forward 13 years. When William decided to propose to Kate, Harry didn’t hesitate to let his big brother offer the ring to his own fiancé, despite the fact that William had initially gone with the watch. “They had an agreement that whoever got engaged first would have Diana’s ring,” a source tells the Daily Star.
Now that it seems to be just a matter of time until Harry proposes to his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, the prince still has a nod to his mother planned. (Here’s what else William and Harry are doing to keep their mother’s memory alive.) Reportedly, he’s planning to convert Diana’s emerald and diamond headband into a ring for his future fiancé.
Find out how Prince Harry’s engagement would shake up the royal monarchy.