When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, Kim Wran, the daughter of New South Wales Premier Neville Wran, presented the couple with a pair of koala and kangaroo motif jumpers designed by Jenny Kee. At the time more than 6000 official and unofficial gifts poured into the couple from all over the world, many of them, like this jumper, reflecting national identity.
A year after the wedding Diana, Princess of Wales was photographed wearing the koala jumper at a polo match. The image of Diana in a knit jumper with a koala on the front and map of Australia on the back made headlines around the world. The accompanying text ranged from discussing Diana’s independent, ‘utterly practical’ and ‘thoroughly modern’ way of dressing in contrast to ‘the old pearled, permed and tiaras monarchy’ to declaring she was pushing for Charles to be Governor General of Australia. As such it reflects the range of associations one media image can take on.
The jumper also became a significant element in the Jenny Kee story. She was bombarded with orders for her knits, including the koala knit, and was asked to design a ‘Blinki Di’ version for Australian Women’s Weekly readers to make at home. The jumper I am wearing was made by my Gran for my Mum from this pattern in 1983.