For Richard Dalton, who spent a great deal of time with Princess Diana as her personal hairdresser, the glaring spotlight on the newest “Wives of Windsor”—both Catherine and Meghan—brings back a deluge of memories.
“I met Diana when she was 17,” he told me from his home in Southern California. “I worked at Fenwick of Bond Street’s in-store salon, and cut her sisters’ hair.” Dalton isn't responsible for the young bride's now-iconic flicked and feathered cut. That was his fellow stylist Kevin Shanley, to whom Dalton passed the shy teen. Shanley also styled Diana for her wedding.
"You have to be extremely careful and gentle with the tiara, and absolutely no hairspray or styling product can touch the stones."
But a dustup over a styling for the State Opening of Parliament put the royal locks in Dalton’s capable hands. “I was with her every day for 12 years,” he says. He also gave the young Princes William and Harry their first haircuts.
Richard Dalton (back row, left) poses with other members of the Prince And Princess Of Wales's Household During Their visit to Australia in 1985
Dalton remains positively sphinx-like when it comes to sharing anything truly personal about the late princess, even though he moved permanently to the U.S. six years before her death. It is a confidence that he holds out of respect not only to her
Apparently, the princess wanted much shorter, easier hair for an upcoming trip to Africa, but was concerned about what impact a drastic change might have. Their solution was to cut it in imperceptible increments. “Whatever I did to her hair became
Watching the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle brought back a flood of memories, along with some unique insights. “Her hair looked very elegant,” he said of the bride. “It not only complemented the
“What people don’t realize,” he continued, “is the magnitude of that monarch length veil and the significance of the tiara. It’s a crown
Most poignant were the many subtle nods to Diana that Dalton noticed. “From the vacant chair beside Prince William to Diana’s favorite hymn, ‘Guide Me, O Thy Great Redeemer,’ which was sung at both her wedding to Prince Charles and at her funeral, she was there in many ways. And then there were the flowers—white roses and lily of the valley. Those were her favorites.” (Editor's Note: The chair beside Prince William was left empty because it was in front of the Queen's seat.)
As Diana’s life evolved, so did Dalton’s. Originally from Scotland, he came to London as a young man after winning a scholarship to Vidal Sassoon’s academy. After graduation, he worked for several top salons while also serving as a member of Glemby International’s Creative Team, developing a reputation as an unflappable master of flawlessly elegant hair styling for photo shoots and runway shows during the formative years of London Fashion Week.
In 1981, he became Princess Diana’s personal hairdresser, while simultaneously owning and operating his own salon in Claridge's Hotel. When he was asked to join the princess full-time, including all global tours of duty, he sold the salon and joined her.
Dalton and other members of the royal staff onboard A Royal Australian Air Force Plane On Its Way From Fiji To Australia on October 26, 1985
For more than a decade, Dalton created looks for the Princess that are now seen as iconic—the jeweled choker as
I met Dalton when he was shuttling back and forth between London and New York, having been named
Dalton at the Diana: Legacy of A Princess Exhibition on the Queen Mary on October 11, 2013
Ultimately, the climate and lifestyle of Southern California beckoned and Dalton moved to the left coast. There, he continues to work with ladies in the limelight. Past and present clients include Sophia Loren, Jane Seymour, Barbara Grant, and the late Joan Rivers (along with daughter Melissa). He’s even done Katy Perry, “before she was known as Katy Perry,” he laughs.
But the crowning achievement of his career will always be his years by the side of the extraordinary woman
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.