Why Princess Catherine is often spotted without her engagement ring

The Princess of Wales has been seen without her engagement ring on numerous occassions

Kate Middleton's engagement ring
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Eagle-eyed royal fans have often noticed Princess Catherine stepping out without her precious engagement ring on her finger, but there's a very practical reason she and many other royals do this.

Kate Middleton's stunning 12-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring may be the most famous piece of royal jewelry worn by a member of the family for the past century. The ring was given to Kate by her now-husband Prince William when he proposed back in 2010, but the piece had an incredibly meaningful history before this event.

The engagement ring was originally given to William's mother, Princess Diana, by his father, King Charles III, when he proposed and upon her death, it passed down to Prince Harry before he gifted it to William. The style now goes by the name 'Princess Diana' in an ode to the late Princess of Wales. 

With all that family history, as well as the ring symbolizing William and Kate's eternal bond, it's a sure fact that the ring is an important piece of jewelry for Kate. But while she regularly steps out in the piece, she will often be spotted without it during royal outings. Royal fans have been quick to point this out in the past, sometimes working themselves into a frenzy of worry over what it could possibly mean But now, ring experts have clarified that the habit is a very practical one and is a great one for others to copy.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring

(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

There is a clear pattern dictating when Kate will and will not wear her engagement ring. In January of 2023, when Kate visited the Royal Liverpool University Hospital to talk about the mental health resources on offer there, people quickly noticed that her ring finger was free of the bright sapphire jewel. Similarly, during a 2020 trip to the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and again when she visited Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2018, the heirloom ring was missing. 

On these types of visits, where the Princess is engaging with medical personnel in medical settings, according to engagement ring specialists at Steven Stone, Kate ditches her precious gemstone because of "health and safety reasons."

In a bid to quell the worries of royal fans, Kensington Palace has previously confirmed that Kate tends to remove all of her accessories during these types of visits in order to protect others and remove any potential hygiene hazards. 

Kate Middleton's engagement ring

(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Another, again, completely practical and understandable time when the Princess of Wales leaves her engagement ring at home is when she is booked in to visit sporting events. The ring was nowhere to be seen when she, alongside Prince William and Princess Charlotte, attended the Commonwealth Games swimming trials in August of 2022. Kate also took off the dazzler when taking part in a Team Great Britain race against New Zealand. 

Experts at Steven Stone said, “Kate typically removes her engagement ring whenever she is taking part in physical activities and sports or when there is a greater risk that the ring could become damaged or lost.” It's understandable that Kate is weary about the piece coming to any harm, the ring has an estimated value of around $500k!

During these types of risky situations, many other royals, like Kate, also choose to leave their engagement rings in a safe place. Meghan Markle ditched her three-stone diamond accessory when she attended the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey in 2019, and Duchess Sophie of Edinburgh regularly steps out without her ring whenever there’s a health or safety risk.

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Freelance news writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with Good To, BBC Good Food and The Independent.