My grandmother was always fascinated by Princess Diana of Wales, which was displayed through quirky commemorative plates and ornaments placed all around her dining room. Stemming from Diana's grace, altruism and humanitarianism, this admiration for the People's Princess was then passed on to me and became the British equivalent to my adoration for Jackie Kennedy.

This month marks the 20 year anniversary of Princess Diana's death and the legacy she left behind. Celebrate the icon, humanitarian figure and woman that Princess Diana was with an elegant, affordable dinner party at your own home. 

Décor and Ambience

liquor, grape, alcohol, wine
Brock Colyar

In public, Princess Diana presented a spotless, stunning image that led to a mania of vicious paparazzi and countless images sprawled across tabloids.

When it comes to your dinner party, meet Diana's standards by coordinating the colors of your décor, place settings and atmosphere of the meal. To develop the evening's ambience, I picked one of my favorite Diana dresses to inspire the décor: the midnight blue velvet "Travolta" dress that she wore to the White House in 1985.

tea, beer
Brock Colyar

For the party, I chose to dine outside while the sun set, and I decorated the table with white flowers, white and silver place settings, and candles placed in recycled wine bottles. While my guests enjoyed their meal, I played some of Diana's favorite music, including Bob Dylan, John Denver and Beethoven.

The Cocktails

alcohol, champagne, wine, beer
Brock Colyar

Though there are few pictures of Diana drinking in public, your guests are likely going to want a refreshing cocktail to pair alongside the meal.

According to UK-based actress Cleo Rocos, Princess Diana once left her palace in disguise to drink peach Bellinis with Rocos and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Serve the following recipe for refreshing grapefruit and peach Bellinis at your Diana party. For a virgin mocktail, replace the prosecco with peach-flavored sparkling water.

Peach and Grapefruit Bellinis

  • Prep Time:40 mins
  • Cook Time:5 mins
  • Total Time:45 mins
  • Servings:5
  • Easy


  • 4 peaches peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups prosecco or sparkling water
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice
  • Step 1

    Bring the peeled and quartered peaches to a boil. Let simmer for 3 minutes.

  • Step 2

    After letting the mixture cool down, puree the peaches and water in a blender. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Mix the peach puree with Prosecco and grapefruit juice. Serve chilled in champagne flutes.

    alcohol, champagne, wine
    Brock Colyar

The Dinner

Brock Colyar

Former royal chef Darren McGrady once referred to his years working for Princess Diana as the "happiest times at Kensington." McGrady said Diana was "a terrible person in the kitchen," but a wonderful person to work for, preferring a more intimate dining experience over the royals' grand meals.

orange, juice
Brock Colyar

Diana also strived for a fat-free diet and consumed more vegetarian, chicken or fish dishes as opposed to red meat. 

Enjoy this slightly altered version of McGrady's stuffed bell pepper recipe alongside your favorite side dishes. For my Diana party, I chose Italian bread served with a garlic butter and grilled asparagus in a balsamic vinegar marinade. 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Prep Time:40 mins
  • Cook Time:40 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 20 mins
  • Servings:5
  • Medium


  • 5 bell peppers
  • 1.5 cups long grain brown rice al dente
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
  • 2 roughly chopped small tomatoes
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 ball mozzarella
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Step 1

    Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, and clean out their seeds and membranes. After drizzling them in olive oil, bake them at 350°F for 25 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Cook the brown rice until it is al dente, according to the directions on the package. In a different pan, cook the bacon until crisp.

  • Step 3

    Saute the onions and mushrooms in the bacon grease, adding in the tomatoes, rice, herbs, chopped bacon, water and bouillon cube when the vegetables are soft. Simmer on medium heat for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Step 4

    Stuff the bell peppers with the rice and vegetable mixture. Add a layer of diced mozzarella cheese in the middle of the pepper.

  • Step 5

    Top the peppers with shredded cheese and bake in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil or rosemary.

    pepper, jalapeno, bacon, vegetable, cheese
    Brock Colyar

The Dessert

bacon, butter, peanut butter, chocolate
Brock Colyar

Though she maintained a strict and healthy diet after fighting a secret battle against bulimia in the 1980s, Diana occasionally had a sweet tooth that could be satisfied by McGrady's bread and butter pudding, a cross between crème brûlée and bread pudding. For my Diana party I used a homemade loaf of gluten-free bread to accommodate my guests, though the recipe usually calls for a loaf of white bread. 

After dinner, be sure to allow your guests to converse and relax while the dessert is in the oven.

Bread and Butter Pudding

  • Prep Time:8 hrs
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Total Time:8 hrs 45 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • 12 slices bread crusts removed
  • 3 ounces raisins
  • 3 tbsp sweet liqueur Cointreau or Amaretto
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds toasted
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • Step 1

    Soak the raisins in your sweet liqueur of choice for 8 hours or overnight. Amaretto or Cointreau are recommended.

  • Step 2

    Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract.

  • Step 3

    Bring the heavy cream and milk to a boil, then pour in the egg yolk, sugar and vanilla mixture. Whisk continuously.

  • Step 4

    Cut 3 slices of bread into 1/2-inch cubes and place in the bottom of a casserole dish. Pour half of the egg and dairy mixture over the top of the bread.

  • Step 5

    After buttering the remaining slices of bread, cut them into triangles or smaller rectangles, placing them neatly in the casserole dish. Pour the remaining egg and dairy mixture, and then add soaked raisins over the top.

  • Step 6

    After allowing the pudding to soak for 20 minutes, bake at 350ºF for 30 to 45 minutes, until the filling has set. The pudding needs to be baked in a hot water bath, with the water filled up to half the height of the casserole dish. Top with powdered sugar and toasted almonds.

    Brock Colyar

Her Legacy

As the world remembers the woman who championed the rights of the disenfranchised, the homeless and those with HIV, I will remember both Diana and my grandmother, who lived up to Diana's grace and poise while she fought her own battle against cancer.

During these chaotic political times, I hope that people remember the icon that was Princess Diana and learn to reflect her ideals and values in their own attitudes and actions. 

cake, chocolate
Brock Colyar

In the meantime, you can celebrate by throwing your own Princess Diana-style dinner party. If one shops with an eye for sales, this entire meal (flowers included) costs about $30 for five people—ignoring several household ingredients that most people already have at home. Therefore, this dinner becomes not only classy and elegant, but also extremely affordable. 

To quote the altered version of "Candle in the Wind" that Elton John sang at Diana's funeral, "Goodbye England's Rose / May you ever grow in our hearts." 

This story is dedicated to my beautiful grandmother, Marilyn Colyar, and my beautiful friends who are featured above.