With all the buzz surrounding Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon and the London Olympics this summer, the timing couldn't be better for an exhibition celebrating all things royal, and we mean all things, from palace menu cards to a boxed piece of Prince William's christening cake.
“Diana: Legacy of a Princess,” opening this weekend at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, features nearly 2,000 items of memorabilia associated with Princess Diana and the British royal family.
For fashion fans, several of Diana's British-designed ensembles are on display, including the red taffeta-skirted gown by Murray Arbeid that she cleverly chose to accessorize with two different-colored long gloves (red and black) for the 1986 America's Cup Ball in London.
Examples of luxury craftsmanship fit for a princess include Sarah Ferguson's richly embroidered wedding dress, also from 1986, with pearl-encrusted bumble bees, anchors and the intertwining letters “S” and “A” (for Sarah and her prince, Andrew).
At the other end of the spectrum is the infamous see-through dress modeled by Kate Middleton during a 2002 student fashion show at St. Andrews University that may have helped her win the heart of William, the presumed future king. Of course, that piece is widely regarded as Middleton's first and last fashion “don't.”
Other items on display highlight her taste and reserved style, namely the royal blue Issa dress she wore to meet the press and announce her engagement to William in 2010.
The show features ephemera associated with other royals too, such as an embroidered robe worn by a page at the coronation of King George VI, menus from Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle dinners hosted by Queen Elizabeth, handwritten letters from Prince Charles, antique scarves, China and historical newspapers.
The exhibition is jointly presented by the Queen Mary and the Pink Ribbons Crusade, a nonprofit breast cancer awareness organization founded in early 2000 by Jess and Suzanne King of Austin, Texas, who have been avid collectors of Diana memorabilia for many years. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will benefit City of Hope.
“Diana: Legacy of a Princess” opens Saturday and runs indefinitely at the Queen Mary, www.queenmary.com. Tickets are $34.95 for adults, $23.95 for children ages 5-11.
-- Booth Moore
Photo: Diana wore this floral print ruched dress when she happily danced with Prince Charles at Australia's Bicentennial celebration in January 1988. The dress is on display at the Queen Mary in Long Beach as part of the exhibit. As pictured, it is set against a backdrop of Kensington Palace. Credit: Gray Hawn Photography.