Naturally, in Prince Harry’s new autobiography Spare, he shares recollections of his late mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales. Given how smell is intrinsically linked to memory, it’s not that surprising that her favourite perfume comes up.
Naming First by Van Cleef & Arpels – a floral fragrance – Harry details how the scent helped him process his grief in a therapy session, following his mother’s tragic death in August 1997 when he was just 12 years old.
He recalls how the therapist urged him to explore his emotions using a bottle of the perfume. '"We're breaking through,' she said," Harry noted of his therapist's advice. "'Let's not stop.'"
He continued: "At the start of our session, I lifted the lid, took a deep sniff. Like a tab of LSD. I read somewhere that smell is our oldest sense, and that fitted with what I experienced in that moment, images rising from what felt like the most primal part of my brain."
First – a suitably conservative yet romantic perfume – has notes of hyacinth, orchid and amber. It launched in 1976 and is still on sale today, which is testament to its timelessness.
Another white floral scent closely associated with Princess Diana was the one picked for her wedding day in 1981. Said to be the first true multi-floral bouquet ever created, the late royal wore Houbiquant's Quelques Fleurs to marry Prince Charles.
And, according to reports, a third favourite of Princess Diana’s was Penhaligons’ Bluebell. Created in 1978 (two years after First) this floral green fragrance transports you to British woodlands in dewy spring.
Perhaps serendipitously, bluebell is also a fragrance note favoured by Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle. In her now defunct blog The Tig, the former actress explained that Wild Bluebell by Jo Malone London is one of her two signature scents. Another fragrance categorised as floral green, this too evokes the wild forest flower in vivid fashion.
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