THE FORD Escort car that Prince Charles gave to Princess Diana as an engagement present has been uncovered after being driven by an owner for 20 years.
The owner – who wants to remain anonymous – was a fan of the late Diana, Princess of Wales but never told anyone that her "little runaround" once belonged to her.
She happily drove the motor around the Hertfordshire village she lived in, telling anyone who asked that it had been her first car.
The Ford Escort Mk III Ghia had in fact been Diana's daily runaround from May 1981 – two months before the Royal wedding – until August 1982.
Diana regularly drove the 1980 car to visit Charles during their engagement, where she would often be photographed in it attending events such as polo matches.
Soon after taking ownership of the car, Diana's older sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, gave her a silver frog that was then attached to the bonnet.
It was given as a gesture to the fairy tale of a girl whose kiss turns a frog into a prince.
The Princess of Wales got rid of the car two months after giving birth to her first born, Prince William.
In 1995, the car was bought for £6,000 by an antiques dealer as a birthday present for his daughter, before it was then sold to the current owner.
The Escort has a 1.6litre engine, 83,000 miles on the clock and is in full working order.
The owner insists she's taken great care of it, giving it a regular MoT service.
She now wants to auction it for an estimated £40,000 through Essex auctioneers Reeman Dansie.
She said: "Of course I knew when I bought it that it once belonged to Princess Diana, that is why I wanted it. I was a big fan of hers.
"I have driven it around as a second car ever since. A lot of people ask me why I had it and I used to tell them that it was my first car I passed my test in and that I was attached to it.
"I felt that its history and provenance were so unique and I didn't want many people knowing.
"I have maintained it and had it regularly serviced and kept it in my garage. It is an excellent little runner and has always been reliable.
"I have had it for 20 years and now feel the time is right to sell it on."
Lewis Rabett, of Reeman Dansie, said: "Obviously it is a humble Ford Escort but who its first owner was takes this car to a whole other level.
"The vendor has been very coy about the true history of the car.
"She didn't let on that it used to be Princess Diana's car. I think she quite liked the fact that she was the only one who knew about it.
"The car has spent most of its life in a garage and is in very good condition for a car of that age and is in full working order.
"Diana didn't have it for very long and when she got rid of it she kept the frog mascot. The one on the bonnet of the car now is a copy."
James Grinter, the managing director of Reeman Dansie, said he was amazed by the originality of the car which is important to collectors who put a high value on owning something that was a personal possession of the late Princess.
The Escort, that still carries its original registration WEV 297W, is being sold on June 29.
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