A bicycle that once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales is up for auction later this month.
The blue 1970s Ladies Raleigh Traveller bicycle, which the young Princess frequently rode around London before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981, is expected to fetch £20,000 when it goes under the auctioneer’s hammer at Sussex-based Burstow & Hewett.
Experts believe the bike is a piece of royal memorabilia symbolic of Diana’s youth and she was often photographed riding it to her workplace, the Young England Kindergarten in Pimlico, after her engagement to Charles was announced.
At the time, the media dubbed it the ‘shame bike’ for causing embarrassment to the Royal Family, which led to palace staff quickly advising Diana to stop riding it, believing that it was an unsuitable mode of transport for a royal-to-be. Diana quietly sold the bike to a friend’s father in 1981, a buyer who ended up keeping it locked away in his garage for 27 years before selling it in 2008 for £211.
The three-gear, 26in-wheel bicycle was last sold in 2018, fetching £9,200. According to Burstow & Hewett, Diana would leave the bike chained to the railings outside her London flat, even commenting in interviews about having a wheel stolen. They state the bicycle 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.’
Included in the lot is a newspaper article from 1981 and a framed letter from Mr Gerald Stonehill – who originally purchased the item from Diana. Stonehill states ‘Diana had hoped the [original] sale would be concealed’ after it was considered ‘inconsistent with her future status.’
The auction will be streamed live on 28 April at 10am by Burstow & Hewett Auctioneers.