When it comes to understanding the British royals, no one knows their heads better than the one who cuts their hair. "The media would say, 'If you want to find out anything, just ask the hairdresser,'" said Richard Dalton, stylist to the late Princess Diana. But the media would be wrong in Dalton's case. The Dana Point resident said he never spilled a single royal secret in the 12 years he dressed Diana's famous golden locks.
Dalton, who is Scottish, moved to London from Edinburgh at age 17 after winning a competition for a free apprenticeship with Vidal Sassoon. In the late 1970s, at an upscale salon on London's Bond Street, he met then Lady Diana Spencer and was invited to become one of her personal hairdressers. "I met her when she was 17. I used to cut her sisters’ hair, so when Diana came in too I asked Kevin Shanley to do it."
Dalton originally worked with a team of assistants, then became Diana's sole hairdresser after her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. From then on, he traveled with the princess and, at any hour, could find himself perfecting the world's most closely watched tresses. He said: "Whatever I did to her hair became front-page news. We had to be very careful. When she wanted to cut her hair short before traveling to Africa, we had to do it one-fourth of an inch at a time over several weeks."
For Dalton, the oddest makeshift salon was a jumbo jet loo! "I was terrified that I would stick the hatpin in her head!" he said. For evening engagements, however, Diana would sometimes ask Dalton for a "glammed-up" curly-style, showing him which tiara and gown she'll wear. An elaborate style means a fine mist of unperfumed Elnett hairspray is called for. "I can't use perfumed spray for a dinner, knowing it will clash with Diana's Dior perfume." To give Diana's hair its typical glossy shine, Dalton used a light-oil based "sheen" spray as well.
Dalton spent 15 to 20 hours a week with Diana, arriving at Kensington Palace around 8.30am, just after her morning swim at Buckingham Palace pool. On the princess's hair care regime, he said: "Twice a week, Diana had a deep-action Clairol cream conditioner which is left on for at least 30 minutes. The longer you can leave it, the better." The secret of Diana's wonderful hair condition lied in "replenishing everytime it was washed," said Dalton. When she was staying at Balmoral or Highgrove, Diana did her own hair, but was never really pleased with the results saying: "I can never get it to look as good as when Richard does it!"
Dalton used to cut the boys' hair too. "William would get terribly excited because they’d put a chair on top of the coffee table at Kensington Palace so I could cut his hair and they would get to watch extra telly. Harry was just like his mother, always the one for fun," he said recalling how he used to climb all over the luggage racks on the train to Sandringham, in Norfolk, sticking cookies to the window. "'Get him down!' the nanny used to shout at me, and I'd say: 'I can’t!'"
Dalton left Diana's employ and England in 1991, six years before she died in a high-speed car crash in Paris. Today, he works as a consultant and wigmaker at Charles' Wigs in Laguna Beach.
"I was with her every day for 12 years. I don't do gossip, but I do know she was really in love with Charles. I always felt she had to be protected, not exposed. Let me tell you, the inner circle of power, it's not attractive. Diana wasn't prepared to put up with that. She always used to say to me: 'I'll show this family.' She wanted and deserved a proper family life. I used to buy her white chocolate and Opal Fruits to cheer her up. She loved them. 'I'm not sharing!' she would say."
A heady experience as Diana's haircutter, Written By Sarah Peters For Los Angeles Times. First Published In 26 November 2010
The Hairdo That Was Diana's Crowning Glory, Written By Sarah Vine For The Daily Mail. First Published In 14 August 2017
Her Personal Hairdresser Tells, Written By Diana Cambridge For Women's Magazine
Richard Dalton With Princess Diana Outside The Royal Plane During A Stopover In Fiji Enroute To USA In 1985
A Reminiscent Of The 1940s Look With The Sides Of Hair Swept Up And Held With Tortoiseshell Combs, Created By Dalton In 1984