This is the closest we’ll ever get to buying Princess Diana’s revenge dress

A stroll around Bonhams’ sale of The Crown’s costumes and props is like entering a surreal world where Madame Tussauds and Buckingham Palace have somehow converged, and where the lines between what’s real and what’s royal are bizarrely blurred.

Can this really be a life-size replica of the impossibly ornate Gold State Coach I see before me? Has someone really gone to the painstaking effort of recreating Sir William Chambers’ rococo 1760 design all for a few flashing moments of television? It turns out they have, “with some artistic licence” according to the auction house’s listing.

bonhams the crown

The Crown recreated Sir William Chambers’ rococo 1760 Gold State Coach – Netflix

bonhams the crown

bonhams the crown

From the sublime to… numerous cocktail trays complete with bottles of Tanqueray gin, silver-plated ice tongs and retro soda syphons (yours for an estimated  £60-80), a set of novelty nodding figures in the guise of Imelda Staunton as Elizabeth II (£80-120) and a £2,000-3,000 replica of the famous sapphire and diamond Garrard engagement ring that Charles gave Diana in 1981. Even the gates of Buckingham Palace will go to the highest bidder.

If there is, at times, an uneasy sense that this feels like a closing down sale of the British monarchy then that’s because it is, but not – as we’ve always had to remind ourselves with The Crown – for the actual monarchy, obviously. No, we’ll never get to see inside Diana’s actual make-up bag, brush our hair with Princess Margaret’s silver brushes or admire the model ships in Prince Philip’s real study, but we can do exactly that with the items created for the Netflix show during its six seasons, which came to an end in December.

“I’m so proud of it, it’s real museum quality,” says Meg Randell, Bonhams’ head of designer handbags and fashion. She had “the most fun ever” visiting the huge warehouses at Elstree Studios to sift through countless items that have now been edited down into two auctions – one live, one online – totalling more than 450 lots. The live auction of the 150 most significant lots will take place on Feb 7 at midday while the online auction is live now, with 300 items ending on Feb 8. All the lots are on display at Bonhams’ New Bond Street saleroom until 4pm on Monday.

bonhams the crown

For £5,000-8,000, Elizabeth II’s replica French kingwood bed could be yours – Getty

And what a sight the exhibition is to behold, with each character’s belongings set out to make it feel as if you’re touring their bedroom or dressing room. Indeed, for a certain type of person, £5,000-8,000 for the French kingwood and gilt metal mounted bed slept in by Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton while in character as Elizabeth II will be money well spent.

The sheer variety of items up for sale means Bonhams is expecting an eclectic mix of buyers. “The majority of people will bid at the last minute, so we don’t really know who they are exactly but it’s been so interesting to see where interest has come from so far,” says Randell. “There’s lots of people in the UK, a lot of interest from America, France, Spain and Asia. Globally, it seems to have captured the imagination.

“At the upper end, you’ll have real collectors who will be buying because they’re royal or screen collectors. Some might be buying because of the actors who have worn the costumes,” she continues. “We have some really affordable pieces, like haute couture suits with estimates of £300-400, so some of it I hope might be bought by people who would like to wear it. Imagine if someone said ‘I love what you’re wearing’ and you could say ‘oh thanks, it was made for Olivia Colman as the Queen’.”

diana revenge dress

The Crown created a replica of the revenge dress for season 5 – which is up for £8,000-12,000 – Martin Keene/PA Wire

I feel the twinge of my own credit card when I see some of the costume items available. There are real wow numbers like the revenge dress replica worn by Elizabeth Debicki as Diana in season five (est. £8,000-12,000). It’s the closest anyone will ever get to owning the iconic cocktail frock given the original is still believed to be owned by Princes William and Harry. Reimaginings of Elizabeth II’s magnificent Hartnell gala gowns (all as exquisitely crafted as the originals) and Princess Margaret’s sublimely simple wedding gown (est. £6,000-8,000) could also top any fashion lover’s shopping list.

bonhams the crown

Harvard supplied the production with this discontinued funnel neck style – Netflix

There are also unexpected draws like a Harvard jumper identical to one Diana wore to the gym (the university provided the show with the funnel neck style that had long been discontinued from general sale), a gold rope-embroidered cardigan that Debicki wore in a brief scene in season six (est. £500-700) and – my personal highlight – a set of 10 pieces of powder blue leather luggage embossed with “HRH The Princess of Wales” (est. £2,000-3,000) which would be one way to ensure preferential treatment on a Ryanair flight.

bonhams the crown

Claire Foy as Elizabeth II – Robert Viglasky/Netflix

bonhams the crown

Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in her ‘sublimely simple wedding gown’ – Alex Bailey / Netflix

“The amount of work that goes into getting each tiny thing made is just breathtaking,” says Randell. “It’s such a small moment on screen, or sometimes you don’t even see it, but The Crown created an entire believable world that the characters live in.” Even drawers that were closed during filming would be filled with an appropriate book or prop, like watercolour paints for Charles (and yes, you can buy those too, for £150-200).

“One of my favourite dresses is a gold column dress that was worn by Wallis Simpson. It’s draped so beautifully, like a Schiaparelli, it’s a proper haute couture dress made by the atelier but in the show, you only see her in it for a moment when they’re at Villa Windsor.”

bonhams the crown

Wallis Simpson wearing the gold dress in The Crown season 1, episode 5 – Netflix

In an act that feels rather regal, proceeds from the live sale will go towards establishing the Left Bank Pictures – The Crown Scholarship programme at the National Film and Television School. It’s an apt ending for a show that, Randell points out, “raised the bar of what a TV series could look like, with so much passion, money and time poured into it”. It has been reported that $13 million (£10.2 million) was spent on each episode.

Might the royals themselves make a purchase? It’s been reported that Boris Johnson has put in a £30,000 bid for the life-size facade of No 10 which is up for grabs. I could definitely see Princess Anne sporting the vintage Missoni cardigan seen on her character in the early seasons of the show. Meanwhile, Randell says she’d, “love the revenge dress to be worn by a celebrity to the Met Gala” so they could “use it to create a cultural moment”. I wonder if there are any bidders registered in Montecito?

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.

Previous post Blossoming Flowers at the Top of the Biopharmaceutical Tree — Reflections on the Flourishing of Sanyou’s 4C Business
Next post Emily Blunt Apologises To ‘Oppenheimer’ Co-Star Cillian Murphy For Hurting “That Famous Cheekbone”