February 24th has a very special place in the modern history of the British Royal Family. 40 years ago, in 1981, the heir to the British Throne, Prince Charles, introduced his fiancee, Lady Diana Spencer, to the world outside of the Buckingham Palace.
The world immediately fell with the shy bride-to-be. And the glittering part of the day was an iconic diamond and sapphire engagement ring.
The ring was not a custom piece but just a stock design, Diana chose from the collection presented by the Royal jeweler Gerrard. When Diana was looking at the collection, she might not be aware that this ring will make history one day. Diana wore this ring for almost 15 years – from February 24th, 1981 to September 1995 when her elder son started at Eton.
The day marked the beginning of the new era in the British Royal Family. Beginning on a happy note followed by a fairy tale wedding in front of the whole world, 2 handsome sons, and a bitter end.
In 1997, the world lost a beautiful soul and the jewel that marked her introduction to the world came back to the Royal vault to keep it safe so that one day it could be passed to her sons.
4 Decades ago, this day gave a new face and path to the Royal Family. A story that will always be told when it comes to The House of Windsors. Historians, Royal Watchers, Royal Fans all have their own version of understanding what happened on this day 40 years ago. Everyone looks at it from a different side of opinion. But we all will never truly know where it went wrong or why it went wrong!
We can just remember this day as a happy day of two people starting something together, believing in each other, and later on realizing it’s better to end. We can only let the departed soul rest in peace and free the one on earth from prejudice and maligned criticism.
After all, it takes two hands to clap!
Fast forward to 30 years, Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s eldest son Prince William changed the memories of the day in his own way. On February 24 in 2011, Prince William took his bride-to-be, Miss Catherine Middleton, to her first official engagement as a future member of the British Royal Family. The fiancee who was wearing the same ring that was introduced to the world on the same day 3 decades ago on a different hand.
Prince William proposed his almost a decade-long girlfriend with his mother’s engagement ring. Talking about it during his engagement interview he said,
“It’s very special to me. As Kate’s very special to me now, it was right to put the two together. It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today, and the excitement, and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
While the United Kingdom was gearing up for the wedding of the decade, Prince William and Catherine Middleton visited Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station at Anglesey in Trearddur, Wales. The day was a long way from how the introduction of a new bride went in 1981.
The newly engaged couple named the Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station’s new RNLI Atlantic 85 type inshore lifeboat the ‘Hereford Endeavour’. The vessel was launched during the naming ceremony and the crew demonstrated some of her rescue capabilities. William and Catherine received a warm welcome from the locals.
In 1981 if we saw a stiffed Prince and a shy bride-to-be yet a happy couple, in 2011 we saw a beautiful couple who began as friends with a decade-long relationship. The comfort, the happiness, and the excitement were contagious.
The only similarity between both brides-to-be was the Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring. Wearing an old Katherine Hooker Herringbone Coat, William’s fiancee, Miss Middleton could not have been more different from her late Mother-in-Law. As William said in his engagement interview that they are not trying to take his mother’s place instead they are trying to carve their own path.
And they did! Today, after 10 years of the day, now The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they are the face of the British Royal Family. The only working royal couple of their generation.
Prince William and Duchess Catherine chose to begin slowly by giving their family life enough time and space to have a strong foundation. An almost decade-long pre-wedding relationship, 6 years of part-time royal life, and now The future Prince and Princess of Wales are set to shoulder the responsibility of a 1000-year-old history while raising a happy and healthy family.
And one day the world might see, the Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring on the finger of their granddaughter or granddaughter-in-law!