In a worldwide exclusive, HELLO! magazine can reveal that one of the Princess of Wales's most iconic dresses is being held in quarantine before it can be displayed to the public.
The velvet, midnight-blue Victor Edelstein gown that she wore to dance with John Travolta during a 1985 state banquet at the White House has been acquired by Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Diana's former home, Kensington Palace. Purchased in December for £220,000, it was due to join 10,000 items of royal and court dress in the royal ceremonial dress collection at Hampton Court Palace.
However, HELLO! can reveal that, in a telling sign of the times, the gown is in quarantine.
The collection’s curator, Eleri Lynn, had been preparing the piece for storage when lockdown began, and it remains in a workroom appropriately named the "isolation room".
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"The dress is basically still in isolation," she tells HELLO!, explaining that newly acquired garments are subject to freezing or heat treatment – to get rid of any moths and their eggs – before joining the collection.
"The dress had been frozen and then we left it to thaw out for a few weeks to make sure we were not cracking any fibres or anything like that. We would then repack it for more permanent storage within the collection stores. But we hadn't quite finished that process, so it's still sitting in the isolation room.
"Without a doubt it will be on display again. It is a perfect marriage of form and function and was the perfect dress for that evening."
The gown became a favourite of Diana’s and she was last photographed in it by Lord Snowdon shortly before her death in 1997.
"It's such a momentous acquisition," says Eleri. "It's the perfect blend of celebrity and royalty, so it's really special that it's now part of a designated national collection because we will preserve it for posterity. We exist to tell the story of our palaces and their people, and Diana is one of them. There is still such interest in Diana and the charity work that she did, so she is still hugely relevant."