Princess Diana Almost Didn’t Attend the Vanity Fair Party Where She Wore the ‘Revenge Dress,’ Says Former Butler

Princess Diana‘s former butler Paul Burrell has the inside scoop on one of her most memorable fashion moments: the “revenge dress” she wore to a Vanity Fair party in 1994. According to Burrell, Princess Diana almost didn’t go at all. He took to Instagram to share his memories about that event, why she didn’t want to go at first, and how he convinced her.

Princess Diana attends Vanity Fair Party At The Serpentine Gallery
Princess Diana wearing the “revenge dress” | Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Princess Diana didn’t want to attend the Vanity Fair party

On April 5, Burrell posted a video on his Instagram account, recalling the Vanity Fair party in 1994 that Diana almost didn’t attend because her then-husband Prince Charles had admitted on TV that he had an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

Burrell called the black off-the-shoulder Christina Stambolian dress one of his favorites that Princess Diana wore. And Burrell remembered how Diana was second-guessing whether she would attend the event.

The caption for the post said: “The Christie’s Dress Auction in June 1997 raised $3.25 million in their Manhattan sale room. The auction benefitted cancer and AIDS charities and was attended by more than a thousand people. This Christina Stambolian dress was a particular favourite of mine.”

Burrell convinced Princess Diana to go to the party

“This was my favorite dress,” Burrell shared in the video. “I remember this evening well, the princess turned to me and said, ‘I’m not going, I can’t face the world. Not after Prince Charles has just been on national TV discussing his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.’”

Burrell continued, “I said, ‘You are going,’ and she said, ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’”

It seems the butler had her back. He explained that he selected the dress and helped get her ready for the event.

“So I went to her wardrobe, pulled out this dress, zipped her up, and the finishing touches were the pull choker and high heels,” he shared.

Burrell added, “As she left I said to her, ‘Remember to say this to yourself: I am Diana, the Princess of Wales. I am here to stay, and I am the mother of the future king of England.’ She did it, and I was so proud of her.”

Princess Diana’s ‘revenge dress’ was iconic

Diana attended the party and stunned the world with what would be forever known as the “revenge dress.”

Reader’s Digest shared the story behind the dress, explaining how Prince Charles’ documentary interview “was made in an effort to bring Prince Charles back into a more sympathetic light after his separation from Diana, who was loved by all as ‘the people’s princess.’”

When Charles was asked whether he had been “faithful and honorable” to Princess Diana during their marriage, he answered, “Yes. Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.” 

“We called that ‘The Revenge Dress’ [because] she wore that the same evening Prince Charles confessed to his adultery with Camilla,” Kerry Taylor, whose company auctioned off 10 Diana dresses in 2013, told “While some would have been like, ‘I can’t face it this evening,’ Diana went out in that dress looking drop dead gorgeous. She made a big statement right there.”