A Raleigh Traveller bicycle owned by the late Diana, Princess of Wales and dubbed the ‘shame bike’ by the tabloid press after she was forced by royal officials to sell it ahead of her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles will go under the auctioneer’s hammer later this month, and is expected to fetch more than £20,000.
That’s more than double the £9,200 the blue ladies’ bicycle went for when it was last auctioned in 2018, with Burstow & Hewett Auctioneers of Battle, East Sussex, citing not only increased interest in royal memorabilia but also the bike’ s status as “a famous symbol of Diana’s oppression” and drawing parallels with recent treatment of the Duchess of Suffolk.
Lady Diana Spencer, as she then was, used her much-loved bike to ride from her flat in Coleherne Court, near Earl’s Court to the Pimlico nursery where she worked prior to the announcement of her engagement.
But Buckingham Palace officials deemed the bicycle to be an inappropriate form of transport for a future member of the Royal Family – not an issue in the Netherlands, as the picture of Queen Maxima below shows – to Gerald Stonehill, the father of one of her friends.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is followed by officials as she rides a bicycle in Oosterwolde, on September 17 as the Dutch King and Queen visit the province of Friesland.https://t.co/YHGS6Pk0nD pic.twitter.com/cfzkcuBOW5
— Dutch Cycling Embassy (@Cycling_Embassy) September 22, 2020
He kept it in his garage for 27 years before selling it at his Buckinghamshire auction house for £211 in 2008.
In a framed letter that also forms part of the lot, he wrote that “Diana had hoped the [original] sale would be concealed” because she was afraid that the bicycle being thought “inconsistent with her future status” would become public knowledge.
According to Burstow & Hewett, “this item is a famous symbol of Diana’s oppression. Something she loved being taken away; and control over her public appearance for the reputation of what is deemed acceptable for a lady of the British Royal Family.
“With most recent headline news surrounding Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex and her treatment by the press and Royal Institution; comparisons have been made between her experience and that of The People’s Princess Diana,” the auctioneers added.
“There is no doubt that this, in conjunction with the popularity of ‘The Crown’ series, could see the bike selling well above estimate.”
The bike will go under the hammer on 28 April at 10am with the auction being streamed online on the auctioneers’ website.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.