The princess performed the opening ceremony at the Findus factory in Longbenton in North Tyneside on May 18, 1983. As part of her first solo visit to the North East, the Princess had also opened the new Redheugh Bridge over the Tyne.
The coat, which has a red and black name badge inscribed ‘HRH The Princess of Wales’, has been estimated by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson & Garland at £300-£500 and will be sold at a two-day auction on November 2-3.
Auctioneer Georgina Norman said that the coat was given to the maintenance engineer of a Newcastle workwear company which supplied Findus. He gave it to his wife as a present and the garment has been safely stored ever since.
“There are collectors who love anything to do with Princess Diana and this is something she actually wore. It’s an unusual, one-off item with her name on it,” said Ms Norman.
The factory in Benton Lane was hit by a major fire in January 2009 which took firefighters around three hours to control. The blaze started in a section of the works which made Crispy Pancakes. The factory later closed, with the loss of around 400 jobs.
Other visits by the Princess to the North East included to Barnardo’s in Whitley Bay in 1988, the Percy Hedley School in Forest Hall, and at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle a year later. In 1992 she visited St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth, Newcastle and in the same year, she opened St Peter’s Basin in Newcastle, and the Interconnections Systems factory in South Shields.
The sale of the coat comes shortly after the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. She died at the age of 36 from injuries sustained in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France. Dodi Fayed, Diana’s partner, and Henri Paul, the driver of the Mercedes-Benz car, were also killed.