Sold! Find Out How Much Princess Diana's Engagement Gift from Prince Charles Fetched at Auction

Prince Charles gave Diana a Ford Escort Ghia saloon just two months before the royals tied the knot in May 1981 — now, 40 years later, it remains preserved "just as Diana would have driven it"

A silver Ford gifted by Prince Charles to Princess Diana ahead of their iconic 1981 royal wedding has found it new owner.

The 1981 Ford Escort Ghia saloon given by Charles as an engagement gift to his future bride in May 1981 has fetched £52,640 (nearly $73,000), according to the Daily Mail. The hammer price of £47,000 (about $65,000) surpassed pre-auction projections of £30,000 to £40,000.

A museum in South America bought the car, which the princess received just two months before she and Charles tied the knot at St. Paul's Cathedral in London and continued to use until August 1982 when it was sold to a private owner.

"Ending up in South America is testament to the level of interest globally that there's been in the car," said Reeman Dansie Auctions' Lewis Rabett. "It's also testament to Diana and her enduring legacy."

Princess Diana Ford Escort
Princess Diana driving her Ford Escort. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

Since its initial sale in 1982, shortly after the birth of Prince William, the car has spent the majority of the past 20 years in the care of a "great admirer" of Diana, who has largely kept the vehicle safely stowed away in a garage.

"The car has been dry stored for quite a few years," said Rabett before the auction.

"This is really nice because keeping it stored in a dry barn or garage has kept it in a really nice condition. Escorts of that age weren't like modern cars with really good galvanizing and rust proofing, so a lot of them have just rusted away. Now, 40 years later, you don't tend to find Escorts at all, let alone ones with the provenance of this car."

Princess Diana Ford Escort
Princess Diana in her Ford Escort. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

The car itself has done just 83,000 miles since Diana first grabbed hold of its steering wheel. It retains its original paintwork and upholstery, and its original license plate: WEV 297W.

Princess Diana Ford Escort
Princess Diana's Ford Escort. Reeman Dansie Auctions
Princess Diana Ford Escort
Reeman Dansie Auctions

In an especially personal touch, the car's hood also features a silver frog mascot. This is a copy of a wedding gift to Diana from her sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, to remind her of the fairy tale of how a kiss from a beautiful girl turns a frog into a prince.

"I've driven the car myself and it's a lovely step back in time," added Rabett about the Ford, which Diana was regularly photographed driving or sitting inside to watch Charles play polo.

"Even the radio is a 1980s Ford radio," he noted. "Nobody has changed it and fitted a super modern thing, so it's just as Diana would have driven it."

Princess Diana Ford Escort
Princess Diana's Ford Escort. Reeman Dansie Auctions
Princess Diana Ford Escort
Inside Princess Diana's Ford Escort. Reeman Dansie Auctions

Rabett continued, "It was very surreal to sit behind the wheel and think who would have been there at an early part of her life when she was young and before she went on to do all that she did in her unfortunately very short life."

He added, "Just the fact it's silver makes a difference. It's a very bright shade of silver and just really shines in the sunlight."

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The sale of the car coincides with the opening of a new exhibit called Royal Style in the Making at Kensington Palace, London, which includes a display of Diana's intricate wedding dress for the first time in 25 years.

Diana's famous gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, complete with scooped neckline and dramatic 25-foot train, is on loan from her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

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