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Here's Why Princess Diana Never Changed Her Hairstyle Around the Queen

Rule number one: Don't steal Her Majesty's spotlight.

While Princess Diana's clothes generated a great deal of media attention from the moment she became engaged to Prince Charles, it was her hair that sparked a new trend every time she experimented with a different look. When I interviewed Richard Dalton, the Scottish-born stylist who was Diana's hairdresser for ten years, for my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, he told me the attention mystified the princess at the beginning. "She always wondered why people were so interested in her hair," he said.

Dalton first met the princess when she was 18 years-old, while he was working at Head Lines, a South Kensington salon both Diana and her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, frequented.  When she became a member of the royal family, Dalton often did Diana's hair twice a day. "I was always with her around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. I had a regular job as well, but she would have to have her hair done first thing in the morning."

The princess relied on Dalton for both fashion and beauty advice. "I would go in and she'd say, 'What should I wear today?' There would be three outfits hanging up and I would ask, 'Where are you going?' She'd tell me and then we'd choose and I'd do her hair."

He never knew what mood Diana would be in when he arrived at her Kensington Palace apartment. "Sometimes we'd talk, sometimes we wouldn't. Sometimes she'd say, 'You've got fifteen minutes,' and sparks would fly from my brush."

In 1984, Dalton created a hairstyle that made headlines—and caused a major stir inside Buckingham Palace. Diana had been growing out her hair since the birth of Prince Harry in September of that year. Dalton styled her newly long locks into a chignon for the Opening of Parliament that November. "It knocked the Queen off the front page," he recalled.

princess diana and prince charles at parliament opening november 1984
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The story stayed in the newspapers for days afterwards when Diana wore her hair tucked back in combs the following day.

"We were majorly bowled over by the attention," said Dalton. "After that we became cautious, because her hair had become such a major thing."

Moving forward, Diana and Dalton made sure to dial back the style in the presence of the Queen.

"For a trip to Saudi Arabia where we decided her hair would be more suitable short, we'd do it over a period of weeks, so it would be 'snip snip' every other day and you didn't notice a major way. She was very careful not to overshadow the Queen in the future."

And for more secret stories about the late princess's inimitable style, Here's Princess Diana's Secret Jewelry Trick That Fooled Everyone.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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