Close to 40 years ago, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer got married. The ceremony which was held on July 29, 1981 was called the ‘wedding of the century’ and it looked like a fairytale. The royal couple wedded at the St. Paul’s Cathedral with 3,000 guests in attendance and 750 million people watched it on television. The wedding cost around USD100 million and the dress that Princess Diana wore was iconic and it made history.
The iconic wedding gown was designed by then-husband and wife design team David and Elizabeth Emanuel. It was made with ivory taffeta fabric with elegant embroidery, antique lace, 10,000 pearls and an unforgettable train. According to Pop Sugar, the train was 25-foot-long and it was record-breaking as it was the longest train in royal family history then. Prior to this, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne had shorter trains than Princess Diana.
Before Diana, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark had a train at 20 feet. Town & Country reported that Diana’s tulle veil measured 153 yards. Right up till before the wedding, people were wondering what would Diana’s dress look like. David and Elizabeth installed a safe to store designs and fabric swatches to keep it a secret until the actual day. A backup dress was made in case the design details of the original leaked to the media.
“At the time we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise,” Elizabeth told People. “Had the secret of the real dress got out it’s possible that Diana would actually have worn [the other] one.”
The pair said that the backup dress was alike to the one that Diana wore but simpler. It also had the same ivory silk taffeta but had a deeper ruffled neckline, shorter frilled sleeves, and a ball skirt with no lace hem. No one knows where the backup gown is today.
“It was hanging up in the studio for a long time and then it disappeared,” Elizabeth revealed. “I don’t know if we sold it or put it into storage. It was such a busy time. I’m sure it’ll turn up in a bag one day!”
The dress Diana wore became a staple in British fashion for years after the wedding and remains one of the most talked-about ensembles in royal wedding history.