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Princess Diana Did Not Choose Her Engagement Ring and Wanted Something ‘Simpler,’ According to Her Former Butler

Showbiz CheatSheet logo: MainLogo Showbiz CheatSheet 3/12/2023 Michelle Kapusta

We’ve all heard the story about Princess Diana picking out the beautiful 12-carat sapphire engagement Charles proposed to her with. Well, someone who used to work for the princess is claiming that she didn’t pick out that ring and if she did get to choose her own ring it would have looked a lot different.

Here’s more on that and who reportedly selected Princess Diana’s ring.

Princess Diana’s engagement ring seen as she folds her hands (circa 1991) | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images © Provided by Showbiz CheatSheet Princess Diana’s engagement ring seen as she folds her hands (circa 1991) | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The story that Princess Diana picked out her own engagement ring

Over the years it’s been reported that then-Prince Charles allowed Diana to choose her own engagement ring. That same story was later reenacted in the fourth season of The Crown.

According to Vogue, Diana’s stunning ring, which is set in 18-carat white gold with 14 solitaire diamonds, was featured in a Garrard catalog. At the time that was unheard of since engagement rings for the royals are usually custom-made.

There are several theories about why the princess selected that particular ring. Annie Sulzberger, The Crown’s  head of research told Vogue that some believe “the color matched her eyes, or the queen may have actually selected it, or as Diana was later quoted as saying, ‘It was the biggest.’ [While] others claim that it simply reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring.”  

Well, according to Diana’s former employee and confidant, the theory about the queen choosing it for the princess is correct.

Former butler says Diana wanted a ‘simpler’ ring

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer pose for photos after announcing their engagement | PA Images via Getty Images © Provided by Showbiz CheatSheet Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer pose for photos after announcing their engagement | PA Images via Getty Images

Paul Burrell began working for the royal family when he was 18 years old and became one of the late Queen Elizabeth II‘s personal footmen. In 1987, he was moved to Charles and Diana‘s household and was the princess’s butler until her death in 1997. Burrell says he was working for the queen the day Diana and Charles got engaged and it wasn’t the princess who picked out the ring.

Speaking on behalf of Slingo Burrell said: “I was with the queen on duty [the day of Charles and Diana’s engagement], and I remember [Queen Elizabeth] saying to me ‘Mr. Thomas the crown jeweler is coming in this morning. Would you make him a cup of tea and make him settled and I’ll let you know when I’m ready to see him.'”

Burrell explained that Thomas arrived with a little attaché case and he assumed that was to show the queen a signet ring for Prince Andrew because all the boys get signet rings. Burrell added that after speaking to Thomas privately, the queen asked him to phone Charles because she wanted to speak to him as well.

“At that time the Prince of Wales was living at Buckingham Palace, he had his own apartment so I called him and said ‘Your Royal Highness, Her Majesty is waiting to see you in her sitting room. ‘Oh I’ll be right down, Paul’ and down he comes,” Burrell recalled. “I show him in and the three of them are in there and I thought ‘this is pretty strange.’ So 20 minutes later Mr. Thomas comes out of the room all smiles and the Prince of Wales comes out the room and disappears.

“The queen said to me ‘would you set an extra place at the tea table’ — she always had tea at 5 o’clock in her dining room — ‘Lady Diana Spencer’s coming to join us for tea … It wasn’t until after that the penny dropped and I realized that the Prince of Wales, Mr. Thomas, and the queen had chosen that ring. The Princess of Wales was not in the loop, she did not choose her engagement ring. The queen, the Crown Jeweller, and the Prince of Wales did … That’s how that came about and I was there to witness it which was incredible … It’s a gorgeous ring but the princess always said, if I’d had my choice I would’ve chosen something simpler.”

Burrell’s sweet story about why Kate has the ring now has been disputed by Prince Harry

Replay Video

You may be thinking that at least we know the story behind how it landed in William’s possession so he could propose to his bride with it, well that story is being challenged as well.

Burrell previously told a sweet story about what happened to the ring after Diana died and how it ended up going to Kate Middleton.

In the documentaryThe Diana Story, the former royal employee stated that after the princess’s death when he was wrapping up things at Kensington Palace, he asked Princes William and Harry if they wanted to “take something which belonged to her that you can keep safe.” Burrell said that Harry started saying he’d take the ring his mom wore that “always hurt” when she held his hand “because it was so big.” The princess’s butler knew that he was talking about the engagement ring so he retrieved that and gave it to him.

As the story goes, years later, when William decided he was going to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Harry suggested he do it with Diana’s engagement ring reportedly telling his brother: “Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had Mummy’s ring? Then one day that ring will be sat on the throne of England.”

However, the Duke of Sussex refuted that claim in his memoir Spare, writing: “None of it ever happened. I never gave Willy that ring because it wasn’t mine to give. He already had it. He’d asked for it after mummy died, and I’d been more than happy to let it go.”

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