Princess Diana’s Second Wedding Dress Has Finally Been Revealed

Princess Diana’s Second Wedding Dress Has Finally Been Revealed - HEADER

By Alison McGill

We’ve shared the story of Princess Diana’s legendary wedding dress with you, a fascinating fashion tale that has intrigued generations for more than 40 years. Without question, this wedding dress is the most famous in the world and interest in it, and in Princess Diana herself, has hit a new zenith thanks to The Crown.

For her 1981 royal wedding, Diana wore a dress for the ages. It was grand; it was glorious; and it was unlike any other wedding dress anyone had ever seen before. The royal bride’s larger-than-life wedding gown was made of silk taffeta and featured a scoop neckline, a ruffled lace collar with bow detailing at the neck and a full ball skirt volumized by a petticoat crafted from multiple layers of tulle. It had intricate embroidery, lace appliqués, voluminous balloon sleeves and a 25-foot sequin-encrusted train. This wedding dress was a literal confection.

Princess Diana’s Second Wedding Dress Has Finally Been Revealed
ABOVE: The wedding of Prince Charles (later King Charles III) and Lady Diana Spencer took place on Wednesday, 29 July 1981, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, United Kingdom. (Photo: instagram/the_art_of_dress)

Designed by then-husband-and-wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, Diana’s wedding dress was an intensely guarded fashion secret that the designers protected for months. Over the years, there has been much chatter that the Emanuels also designed a backup wedding dress, but little was known about this mystery second royal wedding dress, until now.

Elizabeth Emanuel has finally revealed that mystery royal wedding dress. In an exclusive interview with People, Emanuel says Diana’s second gown was put into production just in case of emergency. “I was a bit neurotic, and I thought, ‘What if somebody breaks in and steals the dress, or something spills or there’s a fire or it gets stolen?’” Emanuel shared on the reason she went to work on a second dress for Diana. “So, I thought, ‘I’m gonna makeup a backup dress.’”

Princess Diana’s Second Wedding Dress Has Finally Been Revealed
ABOVE: Elizabeth Emanuel poses with her recreated spare wedding dress for Princess Diana in London. (Photos: instagram/laurenfleishman)

Though that second wedding dress had a very similar silhouette to the one 750 million global viewers watched Diana wear down the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Emanuel reports the design had several marked differences than the original. There was no long train; the colour was white instead of ivory; and the sleeves were slim fitting instead of dramatically puffed, and finished with frilly cuffs. The fabric of the second dress was also ready-made versus the hand embroidered, custom-crafted silk from which the original dress was crafted.

Emanuel says that extra wedding dress was never actually completed, nor was it something Diana even knew about, or was ever fitted for. “I just thought, ‘If anything happens, we’ll finish it off and have it ready.’” The designer also shared she though the royal wedding dress likely ended up on a sample rail end. “It probably got reused, torn up, thrown out, who knows?”

Princess Diana’s Second Wedding Dress Has Finally Been Revealed
ABOVE: More images from Elizabeth Emanuel’s studio in London. (Photos: instagram/laurenfleishman)

Why, after 43 years, is the designer finally talking about Diana’s second wedding dress? The 70-year-old designer was asked to bring it to life to be exhibited exclusively at the virtual Princess Diana Museum, which has acquired over 1,800 pieces of Diana’s most iconic, carefully curated, personal, and historical artifacts making it one of the largest collections in the world. “We never got to see that dress on Diana and thought it would be lovely to envision it,” shared the museum’s director and curator Renae Plant with People. The dress was reported to be acquired for an undisclosed sum. “You cannot put a price tag on history,” Plant says.

ABOVE: Princess Diana’s wedding dress, on display at Kensington Palace for the first time in 25 years. (Photo: instagram/

Throughout the years, Diana’s royal wedding dress has toured and been on display around the world (it made a stop in Toronto in 1995). It was most recently seen as part of an exhibition at Kensington Palace in 2022, Designing for Royalty. You can now see the second wedding dress anytime in the Princess Diana Museum from the comfort of home with a 3D virtual tour. While you’re there, take some time to also check out some of the Princess of Wales’s most famous looks by designers including Versace Atelier, Catherine Walker and Victor Edelstein who designed the sweeping midnight blue velvet “Travolta dress” which Diana wore to a White House dinner in 1985 and famously twirled across the dance floor with John Travolta.

THE STORY OF: Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress
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Tags: Princess Diana, The Royal Family, top story, topstory

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