The touching reason Princess Diana never wore hats on visits with children

Kensington Palace curator says the royal's style for official visits was carefully considered

There is no doubt that royal fashion is carefully considered, with outfits curated for the occasion and rarely simply thrown together.

This was certainly true of Princess Diana, who had a specific rule for events with children, and that was that she could never wear hats.

She said: “You can’t cuddle a child in a hat," Kensington Palace curator Claudia Acott Williams revealed.

epa01100331 A picture dated 06 June 1997 shows Diana, Princess of Wales meeting children during her visit to the Hindu temple Neasden, north London, Britain. 31 August 2007 marks the 10th anniversary since Princess Diana's death when she was killed in a car accident in Paris. EPA/GERRY PENNY
Diana, Princess of Wales meeting children during her visit to the Hindu temple Neasden, north London on June 6, 1997. EPA

The Royal Style in the Making exhibition, which opened at Kensington Palace on June 3, features the sketch of a blue floral dress regularly worn by the Princess of Wales when she visited children or hospitals. The floral piece, by designer David Sassoon, became known as her "caring dress" because "she knew children loved the bright, floral pattern".

In the sketch, the model is wearing a hat, but the royal never paired a co-ordinating headpiece for events with children. However, Acott Williams says she did wear "big costume jewellery because she would pick children up and they would play with it".

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Designs made for Diana, Princess of Wales on display during the "Royal Style In The Making" exhibition photocall at Kensington Palace on June 02, 2021 in London, England. Royal Style in the Making is scheduled to open at Kensington Palace on 3 June 2021, and will run until 2 January 2022. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
A sketch of Princess Diana's blue 'caring dress' (right) on show at the Royal Style In The Making exhibition at Kensington Palace. Getty Images

"She understood how what you were wearing could really convey warmth ... it could reinforce hierarchy or it could undermine hierarchy and create more of a relationship," says Acott Williams.

"This brightly coloured floral was a really important piece in her working wardrobe."

Matthew Storey, curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, says that the example "really illustrates just how carefully she considered the people she would meet when selecting outfits for her many public engagements".

Also included in the exhibition is Princess Diana's wedding dress, which is on public display for the first time in more than 25 years.

The gown, which the late princess wore to marry Prince Charles at London's St Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981, was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. It will be on display at Kensington Palace, London, until January 2.

It is on view with the princess's 7.6-metre sequin-encrusted train, which is the longest in British royal history to date.

To include the dress, along with other personal items of the late royal, Historic Royal Palaces had to seek permission from her sons, Princes William and Harry.

Highlights from the Royal Style in the Making exhibition:

Also included in the exhibition are the pink Sassoon dress and jacket that Princess Diana changed into later on her wedding day, as well as artefacts detailing the creation of her wedding dress.

The exhibition features pieces worn by other British royals, including the surviving toile for the 1937 coronation dress of the Queen Mother and a Georgian-style dress worn by Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, to a 1964 charity costume ball.

Updated: June 6, 2021 02:42 PM

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