How Meghan Markle got Princess Diana’s crown jewels — including mysterious cross necklace

They may be estranged, but Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle still have one thing left in common.

The future Queen and the woman who sees herself as the true queen of California are both lucky enough to dip into the priceless jewelry collection that belonged to Princess Diana, the mother-in-law neither of them knew.

While in Nigeria on her three-day faux-royal tour with Prince Harry last weekend, Markle, 42, displayed a delicate diamond cross that glinted in the sun as she attended a reception for military families in Abuja.

Meghan Markle’s three-day faux-royal tour of Nigeria with her husband Prince Harry revealed a cross to the world which sources close to the couple say was Princess Diana’s. Anadolu via Getty Images
The cross which Markle revealed in Nigeria is now the subject of intrigue with one person close to Diana saying they had never seen it and that she largely avoided religious motifs in public. AFP via Getty Images

Sources told Page Six that the never-before-seen necklace was gifted to Markle by her husband and was from his mother’s private collection.

“Diana remains a prominent force in Harry’s life and as a result, Meghan’s,” a source who knows the couple told us.

“So much of his work is inspired by his mum, and it’s evident how much she still means to him.

As well as the cross, Markle has being seen wearing other items from her mother-in-law’s treasures.

“A gift to his wife that once belonged to his mother is incredibly meaningful and that isn’t lost on his wife.”

The appearance of the cross has set off intrigue, however, as to its origin.

One London socialite who knows Markle mused to page Six, “Meghan likes to curate her jewelry to tell a certain story.

Diana’s jewelry collection was seen on formal occasions, including in Hong Kong in 1989 when she wore the Lover’s Knot tiara, her emerald engagement ring, pearl clasp and diamond earrings. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
In Washington D.C. in June 1997, the princess wore two bracelets and an aquamarine ring on her left hand, reflecting her single status. UK Press via Getty Images

“I find it hard to believe that she’s been sitting on this necklace for 5 years.”

Additionally, Diana, who died aged 37 in August 1997, was never pictured wearing the piece of jewelry in public.

Markle wore Diana’s aquamarine ring on her right hand as she left Windsor Castle after their wedding service to go to the reception in Frogmore House. Getty Images
Diana frequently wore the aquamarine ring after her separation and divorce from then Prince, now King Charles. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

“No — I didn’t recognize this at all,” said one insider who worked closely with Diana.

“In fact, Diana was ever the professional and she generally avoided wearing religious motifs of any kind because they have the potential to offend people, so she would never usually wear such a thing.”

Indeed, Diana was pictured wearing a cross in public just twice: once, her own, which she donated to charity and once with a cross she had borrowed from a friend.

This is the only public event where Diana wore a cross which she owned herself, when she visited HIV+ babies in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1991. She donated the cross and necklace for a charity auction. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Markle wore bejewelled butterfly earrings from her mother-in-law’s collection in October 2018 in Australia, before she and her husband quit royal duties. Getty Images

The cross she owned was seen when, while hugging HIV-positive children in San Paulo, Brazil, in April 1991, one little baby reached up to grab her gold cross necklace.

The princess donated the cross and chain for a charity auction which was to take place early in September 1997.

It was put in storage for 20 years following her death and then reportedly sold to an Australian collector for an undisclosed amount.

The other time she was seen in public with a cross was a fashion statement rather than a religious one, when she wore the Attallah Cross on a pearl rope for a London charity gala. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
The Attallah Cross was made int he 1920s by Garrard, the royal family’s jeweler, bought by businessman Naim Attallah in the 1980s and sold again in January 2023 to Kim Kardashian. It is made of square-cut amethysts framed by circular diamonds. sothebys/Instagram

The borrowed cross was the impressively large Attallah Cross — a pendant made of square-cut amethysts accentuated by circular diamonds in the 1920s by Garrard, the royal family’s longtime jeweler and bought in the 1980s by Diana’s friend, businessman Naim Attallah, who loaned it to her for a charity gala.

Most notably, Diana wore the cross on a necklace in October 1987, when she paired it with a Catherine Walker dress to a charity gala in London.

In January 2023 it went up for auction in London and was sold for $197,453. The lucky owner who outbid everyone? Kim Kardashian.

Princess Kate has worn the diamond feather brooch which her mother-in-law also wore. It is in the shape of the symbols of Wales, of which she Kate is princess. UK Press via Getty Images
Diana frequently wore the diamond feather brooch, which was a wedding gift from Queen Elizabeth, as a pendant on a bejeweled necklace. WireImage

In fact, the full extent of Diana’s gem collection remains as mysterious as the origin’s of Meghan’s new neckwear.

When she died in 1997, Diana’s will left her money, around $34m before taxes at the time, to her sons, and asked for them to get three-quarters of her physical possessions. Her 17 godchildren would share the other quarter.

Her executors changed parts of the will, limiting her godchildren to one memento each, handing William and Harry all of her jewels.

Diana, seen with William and Harry just six weeks before her death, wrote in her will that she wanted her sons’ wives to have her jewels. AFP via Getty Images

That change may have been influenced by a special “letter of wishes” which was revealed during a bizarre court case in 2002, when Diana’s butler Paul Burrell was accused of stealing 301 items from her apartment after her death.

During the trial Burrell’s attorney revealed that Diana had written to her future executors, “I would like you to allocate all my jewelry to the share to be held by my sons, so that their wives may, in due course, have it or use it. I leave the exact division of the jewelry to your discretion.”

The trial, incidentally, ended when Queen Elizabeth stepped in at the 11th hour to tell her staff that she “had a recollection” that Burrell had had permission to take items from Diana’s apartment, none of which were jewelry.

Paul Burrell, Diana’s butler who was photographed with her weeks before her death, went on trial over allegations of stealing her possessions, of which he was cleared. The trial revealed how she wanted her sons’ wives to get her jewels. Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Both William and Harry’s engagements and marriages have brought at least some items from their mother’s collection into the public light, although many pieces of jewelry worn by Diana have never been seen since her death.

But the best-known of Diana’s jewels — her engagement ring, designed by Garrard and featuring a 12-carat blue oval sapphire, surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds, set on a white-gold band of 18 karats — was unveiled in 2010 on Kate’s hand, to gasps, when she and William announced their own engagement.

“I thought it was quite nice because obviously, she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all — this was my way of keeping her close to it all,” William said.

Kate Middleton was first seen wearing Diana’s Garrard-designed engagement ring when she and Prince William revealed their engagement in November 2010. “This was my way of keeping her close,” William said of his late mother. AP
Kate Middleton continues to wear Diana’s ring, which features a 12-carat blue oval sapphire, surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds set on a white-gold band of 18 karats. Getty Images

Kate called the choice, “very, very special” and called the ring “beautiful”, adding, “I just hope I look after it.”

Even that ring has intrigue swirling around it.

There were longtime rumors that Harry had initially picked the ring after Diana’s death but then given it to William to show his approval of Kate.

In 2022, Princess Kate and her husband visited Boston for his Earthshot Prize, where she wore Diana’s emerald choker. WireImage
Diana wore the emerald choker as a headband when she visited Melbourne, Australia, with her then husband in 1985. Getty Images

Burrell, the former butler, offered a particularly detailed version in which Harry chose the ring, saying, “I remember when I held mummy’s hand when I was a small boy and that ring always hurt me because it was so big.”

But in his memoir, “Spare,” Harry hit back, saying,”The papers published florid stories about the moment I realized Willy and Kate were well matched, the moment I appreciated the depth of their love and thus decided to gift Willy the ring I’d inherited from Mummy, the legendary sapphire, a tender moment between brothers, a bonding moment for all three of us, and absolute rubbish: none of it ever happened.

“I never gave Willy that ring because it wasn’t mine to give. He already had it,” he added, “He’d asked for it after Mummy died, and I’d been more than happy to let it go.”

Meghan Markle’s engagement ring is made from diamonds from Diana’s collection. Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala
Markle has added more diamonds to the band Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan’s own engagement ring has ties to Diana. It is made up of three diamonds, with three-karat stone in the center flanked by two smaller stones on the sides.

The two side stones are from Diana’s personal collection, while the center stone is from Botswana, a country that is close to Harry’s heart. Celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz has since added more diamonds to the band.

Both Kate and Meghan have been frequently seen in Diana’s pieces.

Kate has worn the Lover’s Knot tiara, known as being a favorite of Diana’s, several times.

Kate Middleton has frequently worn the Lover’s Knot tiara, which was also a favorite of Diana. it was made by Garrard in 1914 for Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother, from pearls and diamonds already in her collection. Shutterstock
Diana was also a fan of the Lover’s Knot and wore it when she and her then husband, then Prince Charles, visited the British Embassy in Washington, DC, in 1985 , the same trip to the US which saw her dance with John Travolta. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

She has also worn pearl earrings given to Diana as a wedding present alongside a pearl bracelet designed by Nigel Milne that Diana wore with her “Elvis” outfit in Hong Kong in 1981.

Not to be outdone, Markle wore Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring to her wedding reception in May 2018.

And she also wore Diana’s delicate tennis bracelet belonging to Diana for her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Markle wore the diamond “tennis” bracelet on her left wrist for the interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 in which she made explosive claims that she was the victim of racism at the hands of the royal family and its retainers. VIA REUTERS
Markle wore both the tennis bracelet and Cartier “love” bracelet which Harry gave her for the Oprah interview. Her mother-in-law wore the tennis bracelet frequently.

She chose it because, a spokesperson told the Today Show, “they wanted to wear the bracelet to have [Harry’s] mother there with them during the interview.”

The interest in Diana is not, of course, confined to William, Harry and their wives.

Darren Julien, who runs Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, recently sold a single Diana evening dress by Jacques Azagury for more than $1.1 million.

“Anything out there that was Diana’s is going for crazy money, we’re seeing all time records,” he told Page Six.

Markle, seen in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2022, wears a Cartier watch similar to one worn by Princess Diana. It has not been established if it is Diana’s. Getty Images for Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023

The house has an upcoming auction of items associated with Diana and Julien said that crowds in Hong Kong flocked to an exhibition of them.

He has also never seen Markle’s cross necklace before, he told Page Six, adding, “It doesn’t mean that she didn’t wear it, of course.”

He said that with photographic proof that it was Diana’s, the necklace would likely sell for up to $50,000.

“But, they will never sell it,” he said.