Despite her tragic death almost 22 years ago, Princess Diana has remained iconic for her humanitarian efforts and lavish style. The People’s Princess had accumulated a fine selection of jewels throughout her life as a royal. Although we have seen a few pieces lifted out of her collection worn by the Princes’ wives today, there are plenty of her jewels that have been hiding away since 1997.
The case of the missing jewels
While the Wills of the average person are usually made public, the final testaments of the royal family have remained private. Princess Diana, however, had left a separate letter outlining her wishes for her sons, Princes William and Harry. The Princess wrote that she wanted her fortune, worth around $3.8million AUD today, divided between her sons and godchildren with the majority going to the princes, and the rest being split between the 17 other beneficiaries. Additionally, the Princess wanted to allocate her jewellery to her sons, so in her words, “their wives may, in due course, have it or use it”. Despite the letter not previously being seen by her executor, the letter was honoured.
Diana’s collection of jewels was worth millions, however her favourite gems were her sapphires. Prince William proposed to the Duchess of Cambridge with his mother’s sapphire engagement ring, and has gifted her a pair of pearl earrings and a watch from the collection. Many of her most famed pieces, however, have remained unseen since her death. While the Duchess of Cambridge has been seen with a pair of sapphire earrings gifted to Diana by the Saudi royal family, the necklace part of the suite hasn’t been seen since 1997. Diamonds from Diana’s iconic pearl and sapphire choker – constructed from the Queen Mother’s broach – were used as part of Meghan Markle’s engagement ring, the necklace itself has been locked away.
It is most likely that the Princes have held onto these precious jewels to pass on to their children, or are saving them for very special occasions, perhaps a coronation.
How are family heirlooms divided?
Generally speaking, people tend to divide or express wishes for the division of their jewellery while they are still alive, or mention the specific items as part of their Will. If there is no specific mention of jewellery or heirlooms in the Will, depending on their value they may become part of the estate and will be divided between the beneficiary. If you are contesting a Will and believe that you have claim to a particular piece of jewellery or item, discuss it with both the other beneficiaries and your lawyer to see whether any compromise can be reached, while providing evidence of your attachment to the item.
If you need help contesting a Will and claiming an heirloom, get in touch with the expert team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers, for a complimentary 90-day trial of legal services.