A Ford Escort, given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles as an engagement present, is being auctioned after the current owner kept the origin of the car a secret for 20 years.
Lady Diana Spencer received the 1981 silver 1.6-liter Ghia sedan from Charles two months before her wedding.
She often drove it to watch the prince play polo, and the bonnet has a silver frog – a copy of the original mascot her sister Sarah had given to the princess and which Diana kept when the car was sold.
The Princess stopped using the vehicle shortly after Prince William was born in 1982, and it was later bought by an antique dealer for £ 6,000.
Around the year 2000 it finally ended up with its current owner – a royal fan who kept it for decades and only drove it frugally without revealing its history to their friends.
Lewis Rabett of Reeman Dansie auction house in Colchester, Essex, said the car had been gone from the public eye for more than 20 years.
“The owner kept it in a vintage warehouse, but it used to be in her garage at home, and when friends came over and saw it, all she said was, ‘This is my first car,” “said Rabett.
“She was very shy of who it was and I think obviously enjoyed knowing that it was special.
“She kept it a secret. Her family knew, but not her friends. She liked and respected the things Diana achieved in her life. “
The immaculate vehicle still bears its original designation WEV 297W and has 83,000 miles on the clock as well as its original paintwork and upholstery.
It is expected to fetch between £ 30,000 and £ 40,000 at Reeman Dansie’s Royal Auction on June 29 – a month before the 40th anniversary of Charles and Diana’s wedding anniversary.
Mr Rabett said the upcoming sale had generated a lot of inquiries, particularly from the US.
“Diana was clearly revered in the States, and the recent birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex brought Diana’s name back to mind.”
Harry and Meghan named their newborn daughter, who arrived on Friday, Lilibet “Lili” Diana, to pay tribute to both the Queen and Harry’s late mother.