Queen Camilla’s Favorite Handbag Was Named After Diana

In recent weeks, Queen Camilla has repeatedly worn what appears to be a new favorite accessory, a quilted, sand-colored leather handbag designed by the Paris fashion house Christian Dior.

While this is not the first time that the queen has worn the label—having debuted a dresses and day outfits from Dior’s Paris atelier in recent years—Camilla’s newly worn handbag carries with it a difficult association for many. Dior described it as “eternally linked” to Princess Diana, who once described Camilla as the third person in her marriage to Prince Charles.

Camilla’s bag, which she wore on a visit to Wales on Thursday, to Wimbledon just a day earlier and to Royal Ascot a month before that, is named the Lady Dior after Diana, who is credited with turning the accessory into an international icon.

Queen Camilla Lady Dior Handbag
Queen Camilla wears her Lady Dior handbag in Wales on July 11, at Wimbledon on July 10 and at Royal Ascot on June 19. The bag appears to be a new favorite of the queen’s,…

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It takes the form of a box-shaped, open, top-handled bag that features variants of quilting details and embellishments. One of the most identifiable features of a Lady Dior handbag is that the two handles are attached by metallic hardware, with a ring suspended from one opening on which four-letter charms spelling “DIOR” hang freely.

The bag was first given to Diana as a gift during a 1995 visit to Paris, where she attended the opening of a retrospective exhibition of Cézanne paintings at Grand Palais. During her visit, the princess spent time with Bernadette Chirac, France’s first lady and wife of then-president Jacques Chirac. The first lady wished to mark the visit by giving Diana a gift and turned to Dior to find something that was appropriate.

It was decided that a prototype handbag not yet released to the public would make the perfect memento. At the time it was called the Chouchou (“pet” in English), believed to have been inspired by its small size.

Diana’s bag was made of black leather with gold hardware. After its presentation in September in Paris, the princess debuted it during an official visit to Argentina two months later.

Princess Diana Lady Dior Handbag
Princess Diana carries her new Dior handbag in Argentina on November 26, 1995. A close-up shows the bag carried by Diana during a visit to Liverpool in November 1995. The bag was given to the…

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After that, the bag became one of the princess’s most regularly worn accessories, and she so loved it that she ordered several others in different colors and textiles.

Diana carried a deep-blue-colored variation when she made her showstopping appearance at the Met Gala in New York in December 1996. The year’s exhibition was themed around a retrospective of Christian Dior’s work.

Diana became so synonymous with the handbag that after the news broke of her death in a 1997 Paris car crash, the fashion brand that created it renamed the bag the Lady Dior in her honor.

This was a nod to Diana’s maiden name. She was still regularly known throughout Europe as Lady Diana Spencer.

“The House’s iconic Lady Dior bag is eternally linked to Lady Diana, Princess of Wales,” the Christian Dior website proudly says of the design. “It’s only natural that Lady Diana, who loved the bag for its modern, elegant curves — and simply ‘because it suited [her] well,’ eventually inspired the name of this object of desire.”

Princess Diana Lady Dior Handbag
Princess Diana carries her Dior handbag in London in March 1996. At right, she carries a blue variation of the bag at New York City’s Met Gala in December 1996.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images/Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Diana’s relationship with Camilla, and the blame the princess placed on her for the breakdown of her marriage to Charles, is well documented. In the years since the princess’s death, there have been a few times when Camilla has engaged with her legacy, no doubt out of respect for both Diana and her two children.

When she married Charles in 2005, Camilla did not adopt the title of Princess of Wales, which had been held by Diana, instead using the lesser Duchess of Cornwall name.

But on the rare occasions when Camilla has come face-to-face with the memory of the late princess, they have brought controversy.

In 2006, Camilla was photographed wearing a diamond brooch formed in the shape of the three feathers of the Prince of Wales, with a single emerald drop suspended from it. This was quickly identified as a brooch often worn by Diana during her marriage and inspired a wave of negative press comparisons of the two women.

Time has moved on, and so far in Britain there appears to be little controversy stirred by the queen now wearing the handbag named in the memory of Diana.

Newsweek reached out by email to Buckingham Palace for comment.

Camilla’s own style has evolved in recent years, from the overtly conservative and sometimes aging dresses and coats she once regularly wore to a new wardrobe of elegant designs embracing a wider pool of cuts, colors and designers.

The Lady Dior handbag also has another modern-day royal fan: Meghan Markle. During a 2021 visit to New York City, Meghan debuted a “Lady D-Lite” Dior bag, designed as the sister bag of Diana’s original version.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek‘s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

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