10 of the late Princess Diana’s most famous dresses have been sold at auction in Bermondsey, with one dress fetching £240,000 from a man looking to surprise his wife.

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Auctioneer Kerry Taylor said: “It was bought by a British gentleman who has never bought a dress before but he wanted to buy it as a surprise to cheer up his wife.

“He only called just in time before the auction, and when I told him he’d been successful, he was delighted.

“His wife loved Princess Diana so when he told her she was over the moon and they had a glass of champagne to celebrate.”

The off-the-shoulder midnight blue velvet gown (pictured), designed by Victor Edelstein, was worn by Diana during a US state dinner at the White House in Washington, DC in 1985, where she famously danced with actor John Travolta.

Bids for the extravagant dresses came from all over the world including Asia, Australia and the US.

Two dresses were purchased by Kensington Palace, which already displays some of the princess’ gowns in its museum.

Taylor said she was “pleased” with the palace’s purchases, adding: “It’s important for the generations to come. Diana was the people’s princess, so the people should be able to see these dresses. This is our heritage, our history.”

The late royal sold the 10 dresses herself to raise money for charity shortly before her death, following a suggestion from Prince William. American collector Maureen Rorech bought all 10 gowns and exhibited them after Diana’s death to raise money for various charities.

Rorech reportedly later sold the dresses to an anonymous seller, who is thought to be behind Tuesday’s action.