All the details on Princess Diana’s secret second wedding dress

By Meaghan Wray

Two dresses are better than one – even if you don’t know the second one exists! Princess Diana’s bridal look in 1981 is one of the most famous royal wedding gowns in history, with its billowing sleeves and extravagant ruffles. But there’s a secret about her wedding attire that nobody else knew – not even Diana herself. Her designer, David Emanuel, and his then-wife Elizabeth were fearful that the original dress would be leaked before she said “I do,” so they created a second one just in case.

Diana's gown had a record-breaking train. Photo: © Serge Lemoine/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Speaking to People, David recalled the process: “At the time, we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise. We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it. We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really.” Luckily, no information was leaked and the second dress wasn’t needed. But with the eyes of the world on her nuptials, it’s no surprise that the designers prepared for the worst where the Princess of Wales was concerned.

Had she needed to quickly swap out her plan A dress for plan B, we would’ve seen a much less extravagant Diana wearing a dress of the same ivory silk taffeta with ruffles around the neck. The dress she wore boasted over 10,000 pearls and sequins, but the piece de resistance was the 25-foot long train. Getting all of that fabric into one little carriage to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral was no easy feat. Her father even struggled to make it in with the 25 feet of extra fabric!

She and Prince Charles were married in 1981. Photo: © Getty Images

Sadly, even princess moments aren’t always perfect. Speaking in the documentary Invitation to A Royal Wedding, David remarked: “We did know [the dress] would crease a bit but when I saw Diana arrive at St. Paul’s and we saw the creases, I actually felt faint. I was horrified really because there was quite a lot of creasing there and she’s been in this little carriage with her father who’s quite tall and she was all crunched in.”

The Welsh fashion designer was best known for this dress, but previously revealed to HELLO! that some of his favourite pieces crafted for the People’s Princess were part of her private wardrobe. One such ensemble was the dress she wore two days before her wedding to a ball at Buckingham Palace. “Two days before Diana’s wedding, it was the fun party, the ball at Buckingham Palace that I went to, and that dress I made was in shocking pink taffeta , very skin-tight, very fitted to the floor with quite a plunging neckline,” he gushed of his creation. “And up until then, the world had only ever seen Diana as a kindergarten teacher, and on that night at her party before the wedding, I think she more than shocked – I think she dazzled people because you saw this fabulous girl with this fabulous figure.”

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