Ford Escort given to Princess Diana by Charles as engagement gift goes up for auction

You could own a bit of British history when the 1981 Ghia Saloon goes up for auction (Image: PA)

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A Ford Escort given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles 40 years ago is to go under the hammer – and could fetch £40,000.

The Prince of Wales gave the 1981 Ghia Saloon to his fiancée back in May 1981.

The engagement present is up for auction after the current owner kept the car's origins a secret for 20 years.

The vehicle is estimated to fetch between £30,000 and £40,000 when it is listed at Reeman Dansie's Royalty, Antiques and Fine Art Sale in June.

Lady Diana Spencer received the silver 1.6L saloon from Charles two months before they were married.

Prince Chales gave his fiancée Lady Diana Spencer the car as an engagement gift
(Image: PA)

Diana often drove the Ford Escort to watch Charles play polo
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

She often drove it to watch the prince play polo, but she stopped using the car as soon after giving birth to Prince William in 1982

It was later bought for £6,000 by an antiques dealer.

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It eventually ended up, in around 2000, with its current owner – a royal fan who kept it for decades.

The keeper drove it only sparingly, without disclosing its history to her friends.

Diana stopped using the car soon after giving birth to Prince William in 1982
(Image: PA)

Lewis Rabett, of the Colchester auction house, said the car had disappeared from public view for more than 20 years.

"The lady who owns it kept it in classic car storage but it used to be in her garage at home and when friends came round and saw it she would just say: 'That's my first car'," Mr Rabett said.

"She was very coy about whose it was and I think obviously quite liked having the knowledge of it being special.

"She kept it a secret. Her family knew, but not her friends. She liked and respected the things Diana achieved in her lifetime."

It has hardly been used over the past 40 years
(Image: PA)

The immaculate vehicle still carries its original registration WEV 297W, and has 83,000 miles on the clock as well as its original paint and upholstery.

It is expected to fetch up to £40,000 on June 29 – one month ahead of the 40th anniversary of Charles and Diana's wedding day.

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Mr Rabett said the forthcoming sale had attracted a great deal of inquiries, particularly from the US.

"Diana was obviously very revered in the States, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's recent birth has brought Diana's name back into people's attention again."

Harry and Meghan named their newborn daughter, who arrived on Friday, Lilibet 'Lili' Diana, paying tribute to both the Queen and Harry's late mother.

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