Diana vs. Kate: Comparing the Lives (and Fashions!) of the Two Royal Style Icons
Though they both ended up marrying princes, Diana and Kate started their lives very differently. Diana, the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, was born an aristocrat. Her parents divorced before her 10th birthday, which made for a lonely childhood for Diana. Kate's family, on the other hand, have middle-class roots. Her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, started a mail-order party supply company, Party Pieces, when she was a child, eventually growing it into a multi-million dollar business. They have been married 37 years and continue to provide a strong family foundation for their three children.
On the day of their respective engagement announcements, both women wore blue dresses — Kate's, a royal blue wrap design, and Diana's, a blue suit with a bow-necked blouse. Their engagements came about quite differently: Prince Charles and Diana had met each other on just about a dozen occasions before their engagement, and there was a 13-year age difference between them. Prince William and Kate dated for eight years, after meeting their freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Both brides kept their dresses tightly under wraps, shared a kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony and were watched by millions across the globe. Charles and Diana said "I do" at St. Paul's Cathedral, while Will and Kate's ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey.
William and Kate waited a little longer than Diana and Charles to welcome their first child — two years to their one. But when Prince George came into the world, Kate wore a polka dot dress to debut her new son on the steps of the Lindo Wing, just as Diana did for baby William in 1982. Many saw it as a deliberate homage to her late mother-in-law.
Kate was even matching Diana before she was a royal. To attend William's passing out parade at Sandhurst in 2006, she wore a red coat and black hat — a look her future mother-in-law wore a number of times.
Before she was a royal, Diana wore this strapless black gown for her first-ever public engagement in 1981. Kate's black Alexander McQueen dress, which she wore to The Sun Military Awards in 2011, struck a similar note.
Both women oozed glamour and went for flowing frocks during different events where they mingled with Hollywood A-listers. Kate wore this lavender Alexander McQueen dress at a BAFTA event in Los Angeles in 2011, and Diana rocked a baby-blue chiffon dress and scarf by Catherine Walker at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987.
When Kate wore a light blue headscarf during a visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2012, royal watchers immediately were hit with a major case of deja vu. That came courtesy of this photo of Diana, wearing a headscarf during a visit to a hospital in Pakistan. The fabric was clearly the same, and the color was strikingly similar. Even the buttons were alike!
This nearly-mirror image may not have been intentional: Black ensembles are standard for the somber annual Remembrance Sunday service. But it's hard to deny the similarity between the two women in these photos: The eyes looking upward, the black coat, and the wide-brimmed black hat — it's a near exact match. This photo of Kate was snapped in 2016, Diana in 1991.