Diana’s ‘Travolta’ dress to reopen Kensington Palace

The iconic velvet dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales at the White House will be on display at Kensington Palace this week, as the star of the re-opening show.

The deep blue Victor Edelstein dress has emerged from its own ‘quarantine’ isolation, which includes being frozen to protect it.

Diana, Princess of Wales wore this deep blue velvet dress in 1985; the dress is going on display at Kensington Palace Thursday (HRP)

It was acquired in and will now go on display at the palace for the first time since it changed owners, on Thursday 31st July, when Kensington Palace opens its doors.

The dress has previously been displayed at Kensington, as part of various Diana exhibitions in recent years, but was always on loan. It will now form part of the permanent HRP royal dress collection.

Prince Charles and Diana visited the US in September 1985, and were welcomed at the White House with a grand dinner. Dancing followed, with the Princess taking to the dancefloor with President Regan and John Travolta, her skirt whirling around.

President Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Prince Charles and Diana in the Yellow Oval Room in September 1985 (Ronald Reagan Library)

The palace closed in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has since been quiet, with the shutters of its famous galleries closed to protect the remarkable collections on display since then.

But in recent weeks Historic Royal Palaces have been working behind the scenes to reawaken the building, and make it safe for visitors to return.

A close up of Diana’s iconic Victor Edelstein dress

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Kensington Palace is famously the birthplace of Queen Victoria, and has been a royal residence for over 300 years. Lavish Georgian parties were held within its spectacular State Apartments in the eighteenth century following their transformation by designer William Kent. A hundred years later, in 1837, a young Princess Victoria woke up at the palace to the news of her accession to the throne.

In recent years the palace has been home to Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. It is currently the London home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Embed from Getty Images

HRP looks after the State Apartments, and public side of the residence. The charity runs entirely on donations, receiving no government funding; HRP is currently facing a £98 million shortfall in its funding due to the pandemic.

The return of visitors will make a vital contribution to the charity’s work caring for Kensington Palace and sharing its stories with the public.

Sam Owen, Head of Kensington Palace, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming visitors back to the palace again this Thursday. Kensington Palace was built to be enjoyed by hundreds of people and it’s been sad to see it so quiet over the past couple of months.

Kensington Palace is where Queen Victoria grew up. (Thomas Barrat / Shutterstock)

“Myself and the team can’t wait to welcome visitors back again and give them a suitably royal welcome. We’ve never needed their support more – each visit is an important contribution to help us maintain this wonderful building for generations to come.”

If you wish to visit, pre-booking is essential – go here.

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