Showing a different side. A previously unreleased portrait of the late Princess Diana is now being displayed at Kensington Palace.
The picture, which was taken by David Bailey in 1988, was unveiled as part of a new exhibition titled Life Through a Royal Lens, which “brings together some of the most iconic images ever taken of the Royal Family “and chronicles their “enduring relationship with the camera,” per the Historic Royal Palaces. In the black-and-white photograph, Diana is captured in profile, staring stoically off into the distance while wearing a one-shouldered dress and simple drop earrings.
The late Princess of Wales reportedly hand-selected Bailey for this particular portrait because he “reflected her desire to establish a new photographic identity for herself.” Though the picture was commissioned by London’s National Gallery, it remained in the artist’s personal archive for over three decades.
“The medium [of photography] has shaped how the world views the British monarchy,” Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said in a press release. “It has allowed the Royal Family to offer fascinating insights into their life and work, transforming the royal image and creating an unprecedented relationship between crown and subjects.”
Diana’s portrait, which was described by Acott Williams as “one of the most powerful images” in the exhibit, has been compared to recent portraits taken of Duchess Kate in honor of her 40th birthday. In one photograph, the Duchess of Cambridge also gazes off into the distance, wearing an off-the-shoulder gown as her hair blows gently behind her. Her sapphire engagement ring — which previously belonged to Diana — is on display in the photo, along with a pair of the Princess of Wales’ pearl earrings.
Before her death in 1997, Diana wrote a “letter of wishes,” in which she asked for her diamonds and gems to be gifted to her future daughters-in-law. “I would like you to allocate all my jewelry to the share to be held by my sons, so that their wives may, in due course, have it or use it. I leave the exact division of the jewelry to your discretion,” the royal wrote at the time.
In addition to honoring Diana through her new portraits, Kate celebrated her milestone birthday with her husband, 39, and their three children: Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3. Ahead of the festivities, royal expert Jonathan Sacerdoti predicted the family of five would be “lower key” in their celebrations than in years past.
“It’s going to be quite scaled back because of the COVID pandemic. I mean, here in the U.K., the numbers are back up again,” Sacerdoti told Us Weekly exclusively in January, adding that the royal family wanted to respect the country’s reaction to the ongoing pandemic.
He continued: “So even for a big, important birthday, like her 40th, and even being who she is, she’s choosing perhaps to do something lower key. So [as] to set a good example.”