We’re gearing up for Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry in May and it’s fuelled a royal wedding frenzy here at Bridal Buyer HQ. We are throwing back to Princess Diana’s amazing wedding dress in anticipation…
Although the wedding of Charles and Diana took place over 30 years ago, on 29th July 1981, we’re all still obsessed with that dress. The 25ft train and dramatic detailing, which featured over 10,000 pearls, enthralled people from around the world. We’ve done some digging and found 11 fascinating facts you may not have known about the gown, which was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel.
For even more royal trivia, don’t miss our round up of royal engagement rings and the stories behind them.
On her wedding day, Diana kept things traditional and had something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue incorporated into her wedding dress. The dress included antique lace for something old, fabric made especially for Diana from a British silk farm for something new, the Spencer family tiara was her something borrowed and she had a tiny blue bow sewn into the waistband of her dress.
Although you could hardly see them under the hem of her flowing wedding dress, Princess Diana’s wedding shoes took six months to make and featured an impressive 542 sequins and 132 pearls, arranged in a heart-shaped design. The soles were hand-painted and incorporated Diana and Charles’s initials – Diana was way ahead of the personalisation trend. The heels were fairly low too – Diana was 5’10, the same height as Prince Charles.
Wedding dress designer David Emanuel revealed to the Daily Mail that Diana kept asking for the train to be made longer and longer – until it could hardly fit into her wedding carriage. The team did practise folding the voluminous taffeta but it still was a tight squeeze in the fairytale glass carriage, which led to it appearing slightly crumpled as she arrived.
The husband and wife duo that designed Princess Diana’s wedding dress, Elizabeth and David Emanuel, are traditional and it was a given that the veil would be longer than the train. Considering the impressive length of the train, this was no mean feat. Diana’s veil consisted of 153 yards of tulle, and was held in place by her tiara.
Diana had antique lace incorporated into her wedding dress which dated back to Queen Mary’s time. It’s not known definitively where it came from, but it ensured there was some history woven into her wedding dress.
Only David and Elizabeth and Princess Diana knew about this secret hidden extra – they attached an 18kt gold, horseshoe-shaped charm that was studded with diamonds to the label of the dress to bring the bride extra luck. Elizabeth also accidentally left a safety pin in the dress – something that wasn’t realised until the next day!
Elizabeth Emanuel is adamant they never made a duplicate version of the dress, however she has admitted they made an alternative version in case the original design leaked to the press ahead of the wedding. The back-up wedding dress has a much deeper V-neckline and didn’t have any of the lace detailing, but it vanished from the studio and wasn’t seen again.
Two antique silk parasols were purchased in the event of rain. Elizabeth decorated them to match Diana’s dress, but did one in white and one ivory so if they were spotted they wouldn’t give anything away about the dress. Luckily it didn’t rain, as Elizabeth told the Daily Mail the parasols were made of such a light fabric they would have offered very little protection.
In the run up to her wedding, Princess Diana shed five inches from her waistline. The design team ended up making five different bodices for her wedding dress, to accommodate her changing figure and on the day they sewed her into the final version to guarantee a perfect fit.
As she was getting ready to leave, Diana accidentally spilled some perfume on her gown – every bride’s worst nightmare. Her makeup artist, Barbara Daly, recounted in ‘Diana: The Portrait’ that she simply tucked that section in and hoped nobody would notice.
The dress has been shown at exhibitions around the world and used to appear twice a year on public display at Diana’s family estate, overseen by her brother, Charles Spencer. However, Diana instructed in her will that the dress be handed over to her sons once they had both turned 30. In 2014, Charles gave the dress to his nephews. We wonder if Meghan Markle will somehow incorporate it in her own wedding day attire?
Click here to read what leading bridalwear designers think Meghan Markle should go for on her big day.