Princess Diana employed several hairdressers during her lifetime, but she seemed to have a special place in her heart for Richard Dalton. Dalton first crossed paths with the future princess when she was just 17-years-old when he worked at Fenwick of Bond Street’s in-store salon and cut her sisters’ hair. The two formed a lasting bond and he later became part of Diana’s royal entourage.
While Dalton isn’t the man behind Diana’s now-iconic feathered cut, he spent 12 years working with her every day before her sudden 1997 death, and he even gave young Princes William and Harry their very first haircuts.
In a new interview with Town and Country, Princess Diana’s longtime hairdresser revealed that it was she who wanted to go for much shorter, easier hair for a planned trip to Africa, but that he worried about such a drastic change all at once. Dalton advised Diana to slowly work toward the shorter ‘do by allowing him to cut it in small increments over time.
“Whatever I did to her hair became front-page news,” the stylist told Town and Country. “We had to be very careful. We had to do it one-fourth of an inch at a time over several weeks.”
Dalton, who joined Princess Diana on all global tours of duty for more than a decade, was behind some of her biggest hair looks, including her ’80s big hair that was jokingly referred to as “the Dynasty Di years.”
Princess Diana’s short hair became her signature look. But another former hairstylist, Sam McKnight, takes credit for her most iconic style. According to Us Weekly, in his book, Hair by Sam McKnight, the hairstylist revealed that Princess Di’s iconic hair look was born from a British Vogue cover shoot in 1990. McKnight revealed that he simply tucked Diana’s hair into a faux crop to work around her tiara, and she loved it.
“I made her hair look short in the tiara for the shoot and she decided she liked it,” McKnight wrote. “As she was leaving, Diana asked what would I do to her hair if I had free rein. I suggested cutting it short, and she, to my surprise, agreed, and we did it there and then.”
Sadly, Princess Diana would never see some very special future royal hairstyles. In the Town and Country interview, Dalton weighed in on the wedding of the daughter-in-law that Diana never met. Meghan Markle wed Diana’s son, Prince Harry, and wore a special heirloom from the queen’s vault: Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau Tiara. Dalton revealed that it is a balancing act to incorporate such a coveted piece into a royal hairstyle.
“What people don’t realize is the magnitude of that monarch length veil and the significance of the tiara,” he said. “It’s a crown jewel, and must be respected and protected. You have to be extremely careful and gentle with it, and absolutely no hairspray or styling product can touch the stones.”