Princess Diana was 'very, very shy' reveals designer Dame Zandra Rhodes

·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

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Princess Diana was “very, very shy” and nervous about showing her legs according to celebrity designer Dame Zandra Rhodes.

Dame Zandra opened up about what it was like to dress the late princess, who she worked with several times during the late 1980s.

She said the royal was “very, very shy” but a dream to work with.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dame Zandra recalled working with the royal on one occasion, saying: “I made her white wrap dress, and she said she needed to know that it wouldn’t fall open and show her legs if she got out of a car, ‘Because, you can be sure that when I get out of that car, there’ll be people waiting at just the wrong angle to get me.’”

The daring designer, 80, also revealed she would love to dress the Duchess of Cambridge, and is a staunch royalist.

It’s not the first time the dame has opened up about her work with Diana, who died in 1997. In 2017, on the 20th anniversary of the princess’ death, Dame Zandra said the royal showed “great daring” working with her.

She told Hello!: “I was considered cutting edge with my green then pink hair. Princess Diana had her own little ways of not conforming.

“Getting to know her a little over the years was fascinating. She grew in confidence, although I did notice she bit her nails. She grew into the job and became aware of her power. It was like watching a swan grow.”

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JUNE 23:  Diana, Princess Of Wales, At Christies In New York For A Preview Party For "dresses, From The Collection Of Diana, Princess Of Wales".  She Is Laughing With Designer Zandra Rhodes, Two Of Whose Designs Are In The Auction. She Is Wearing A Dress By Fashion Designer Catherine Walker.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Diana at Christies in New York with Designer Zandra Rhodes, in 1997. (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

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In 2020, Dame Zandra explained that Diana first came into her shop with “her friend Fergie” - Sarah, the Duchess of York.

She told Metro: “I had a shop in Bond street, she came through with her friend Fergie in those days. They’d fit the dress then I’d have to go to the palace and fit her in the one we made for her. As you do.”

Diana worked with many designers over her life, including David Emanuel, who designed her wedding dress.

He told Yahoo UK she “had naughty eyes” and “a sense of humour”.

He said people would gasp when she entered a room, but she was “very normal, very friendly, and just delicious”.

Diana, Princess of Wales  (1961 - 1997) attends a reception at the British Consulate in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, March 1989. She is wearing a cocktail dress by Zandra Rhodes.  (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana at the British Consulate in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, in March 1989 in a cocktail dress by Zandra Rhodes. (Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
KYOTO, JAPAN - MAY 09: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a pink dress designed by Zandra Rhodes, arrive to attend a dinner on May 9, 1986 in Kyoto, Japan. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Prince Charles and Diana, wearing a pink dress designed by Zandra Rhodes, at a dinner in May 1986 in Kyoto, Japan. (Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

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Celebrity photographer Mario Testino, who took the now iconic pictures of the princess months before her death, said he wanted the world to “see her kindness, her humility”.

Meredith Etherington-Smith, who worked with Testino on the shoot in Battersea, recalled in 2015 how the princess made them all laugh.

She told The Guardian: “During lunch the talk turned to fashion shows and catwalk models. Mario is a brilliant mimic and he catwalked from one end of the studio to the other, taking off the very different styles of various top models.

“Not to be outdone, the princess then leapt to her bare feet and did a very convincing Naomi Campbell prowl, followed by a Bardot-like Claudia Schiffer. It was absolutely brilliant and we were all crying with laughter and applauding.”

Testino was banned from Conde Nast publications in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied.

Watch: Princess Diana ‘could read children’s hearts’

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