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Diana and Grace: How a Pair of Princess Exhibits Stack Up

Two very different royal experiences.

Princess Diana and Princess Grace had a lot in common: They followed unlikely paths to the palace, dealt with unfaithful husbands, and died in tragic car crashes. Now, coincidentally, they’re both the subjects of local exhibits. Here’s how these royal events stack up.

 

“Grace of Monaco: Princess in Dior” at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

The Royal

Princess Grace of Monaco—or, as she was known before marrying Prince Rainier III in 1956, actress Grace Kelly.

Diana, Princess of Wales—or, as she was known before marrying Prince Charles in 1981, Lady Diana Spencer.

The Exhibit

On display will be Dior gowns, hats, and accessories, all of which were once owned by the princess. The items are on loan from the Palace of Monaco.

It’s being touted as a “walk-through documentary,” which basically means that life-size (and larger) images are combined with audio to tell Diana’s story.

The Venue

Hillwood Estate, formerly the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post. While there’s a big gulf between “princess” and “cereal heiress,” Post was a major DC figure.

Tysons Corner Center, which Diana never visited. She did stop by Springfield Mall, however. In 1985, the princess went to its JC Penney outpost and bought an $8 scarf.

The Caveat

Don’t look for a deep dive into Kelly’s life: This exhibit is focused on her relationship with Christian Dior artistic director Marc Bohan, who helped craft her public image.

Don’t expect actual artifacts: This is an “immersive experience,” meaning there’s no curated collection of stuff. You won’t see anything the princess owned or touched.

Photograph of Grace Kelly courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Britannica.com.
Photograph of Princess Diana by © John Mathew Smith 2010/commons.wikimedia.org.
This article appears in the July 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor
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