By William Stolerman
The dress that Princess Diana wore for her first public appearance after the news of her engagement with Prince Charles sold yesterday for £192,000, nearly four times its high estimate.
Lady Diana Spencer wore the dress to a black-tie benefit event at Goldsmiths' Hall in the City in March 1981.
The event was in aid of the Royal Opera House but played second fiddle to the images of the royal bride-to-be stepping out of a limousine in a black gown with a plunging neckline. It made newspaper headlines round the world and established Diana as the most glamorous member of the royal family.
Designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, the dress began life as a sample loaned out to the actress Liza Goddard.
Elizabeth Emanuel (above) said of the Princess: "The transformation was incredible. She arrived looking like the nursery school teacher she was, but now she looked like a movie star. We gave her the dress, made a little shawl to go with it so she could cover up on the night and away she went."
"We hadn't considered the fact that when Diana bent over - as she would have to do when getting out of the car - she would show quite a lot of cleavage. We just thought she looked fabulous."
It was sold through Kerry Taylor Auctions.