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By David Bachelor, PhD
Among the Associated Press stories making the rounds is a piece about a teenager’s torn sweater found after 40 years in an attic. If it were any other teenager, the slightly worn sweater might have ended up in a garage sale. However, because the nineteen-year-old who wore it was the then-fiancée to the future King of England, the recently discovered sweater is headed for Sotheby’s Auction House.
Reuter’s July 17th’s terse headline was, “Princess Diana’s ‘Black Sheep’ Jumper to Be Auctioned.” “Jumper” is British English for “sweater.” Diana’s sweater is expected to sell for upwards of $80,000. Besides the price, there are several other “threads” of this yarn that make it newsworthy.
The first thread is that there actually were two ‘black sheep’ sweaters. The one Lady Diana Spencer was wearing when she was photographed at Prince Charles’ polo match in June 1981 is the sweater currently being displayed at Sotheby’s. However, shortly after that picture, Diana’s private secretary mailed the jumper back to its manufacturer requesting the sweater be repaired and returned. The Reuter’s article notes, “A few months later, Diana received a replacement, which she was photographed wearing in 1983.” The original, unrepaired sweater was found in the attic of the manufacturer in March of 2023.
Another thread of this yarn is Diana’s purpose in wearing the garment. The original AP story, “Princess Diana’s Iconic Black Sheep Sweater Could Fetch at Least $50,000 at Auction” notes, “Some have speculated Diana liked the “black sheep” pattern because she felt like an outsider in the royal family. [Actress] Emma Corrin sported a replica as the young Diana in season four of ‘The Crown.’” The Reuter’s article includes a quote from the Sotheby’s representative responsible for the auction who said, “If you’re Princess Diana, certainly you have access to lots of pieces of apparel you could choose to wear.” Was the Princess of Wales using her sweater to tell the world how her story would end?
The Bible contains a series of proverbs that parallel this sheepish yarn. Proverbs 27:23 says, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Neither AP or Reuters mention where Diana’s future rival was on the two occasions Diana wore the sweater. Proverbs 27:24 teaches, “For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” The sequence of events that put Diana in Paris for her fateful chase proves this truth. Proverbs 27:26 brings all these threads together as it instructs, “The sheep will provide you with clothing, and the leading members of society will provide the price of a field.” I think $80,000 for this textile “flock” should be enough to buy a field. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.