The Princess Diana Look-alike Contest in Washington D.C. Reflecting the Era’s Adoration for a Royal Icon

In November 1985, Washington D.C. was swept up in a wave of royal fever as Prince Charles and Princess Diana prepared to visit the American capital. Amidst the excitement, a unique event captured the public’s imagination: a Princess Diana look-alike contest. This event, which took place at the Champion Sports Bar, was not just a fun contest; it showed how much Princess Diana influenced people globally and how much she was loved by people everywhere.

The Princess Diana Look-alike Contest in Washington D.C. Reflecting the Era's Adoration for a Royal Icon

The Contest: Celebrating a Style Icon

On November 5, 1985, the Champion Sports Bar in Washington D.C. became the unlikely venue for a tribute to one of the most iconic figures of the time. The Princess Diana look-alike contest attracted numerous participants, all eager to emulate the style, grace, and elegance of the beloved Princess of Wales. The contestants, each bearing a resemblance to Diana, showcased her famous fashion sense, from her elegant evening gowns to her sophisticated daywear.

The Princess Diana Look-alike Contest in Washington D.C. Reflecting the Era's Adoration for a Royal Icon
Maureen Murray of Alexandria, Virginia who won the Princess Diana Look-alike Contest, 1985

Maureen Murray: A Local Winner

The contest saw a local woman, Maureen Murray of Alexandria, Virginia, clinch the coveted title. Bearing the contestant number 18, Murray’s striking resemblance to Princess Diana and her ability to capture the Princess’s style and poise won her the competition. This win was not just about looking like Diana; it was about embodying the aura of a woman who had become a global fashion icon and a symbol of modern femininity.

The timing of the contest was no coincidence. Just a week later, on November 9, 1985, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were scheduled to land at Andrews Air Force Base for their visit to Washington D.C. This visit was highly anticipated, with both the American public and the political elite eager to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, especially Princess Diana. Her popularity in the United States was akin to that of a movie star, with her every move and fashion choice garnering widespread attention.

Diana’s Influence and Charisma

Princess Diana’s visit to Washington D.C. was more than just a routine diplomatic event; it was a cultural phenomenon. Her influence went far beyond her royal status. Diana was known for her humanitarian work, her approachable personality, and her trend-setting fashion sense. These qualities endeared her to millions worldwide and made her visit to the U.S. a major event of 1985.

During their visit, Prince Charles and Princess Diana attended a series of glamorous parties and embassy dinners, typical of a royal tour. However, what set this visit apart was the level of public excitement it generated. Diana’s every outfit, interaction, and engagement was closely watched and emulated. Her presence in Washington was not just a matter of diplomatic interest but a moment of high fashion and public fascination.

The Princess Diana look-alike contest and the subsequent royal visit highlight the lasting impact of Diana’s legacy. Her appeal was rooted in her unique blend of royal allure and human relatability. She was not just a fashion icon; she was a humanitarian, a caring mother, and a woman who faced personal challenges in the public eye. This combination of vulnerability and grace made her an enduring figure in public consciousness.

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Written by Heather Brown

Heather Brown is a writer and historian with a passion for all things vintage. She shares her knowledge of the past through her blog, with a particular focus on historical photos and the stories they tell.

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