Princess Diana had a secret second wedding dress that even she didn’t know about

The princess had become a fashion icon by the time she stepped out in her frock on her wedding day. But most people don’t know that there was actually a second dress made for her too.

Princess Diana second wedding dress
© Princess Diana Archive / Gettyimages
Princess Diana second wedding dress

Princess Diana was loved as the Princess of Wales for her beauty, kindness of heart and fun personality. However, she was also adored for her fashion choices. The royal was only 20 years old when she married then-Prince Charles, who was 32 at the time, and first in line for the throne. On the day of their wedding, it was Diana who stole the show in a beautiful, painstakingly embroidered gown.

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It turns out that Diana actually had a whole other outfit prepared on her behalf as a backup. All of this was terribly hush hush - even Diana didn’t know about this other dress! Here’s everything you need to know about this reserve dress and where it could be now.

Princess Diana’s wedding dress

The pair wed on 29 July 1981 and Princess Diana wore an iconic, ivory dress with puffy sleeves and a huge, 25-foot train. The fabric of this had to be folded into the carriage when she made her way to St Paul’s Cathedral, and it was all creased when she arrived! Amazingly, Princess Diana’s veil was even longer at a whopping 139 metres of tulle. One embroiderer was charged with sewing 10,000 micro pearls onto this length of fabric, and completed the painstaking task through the night at home to keep it a secret.

Rumour has it that the dress’ designers, Elizabeth and David Emanual, were so worried about something happening to the dress or the outfit being leaked to the press that they kept it in a safe before the wedding to ensure everything went smoothly.

A secret, second dress

It would be fair to say the Emanuals were thorough; they created a second dress, just in case. Elizabeth explained:

I was a bit neurotic, and I thought, 'What happens if somebody breaks in and steals the dress or something spills or there's a fire or it gets stolen?’

Even Diana was unaware of this backup gown, which had a simpler, slightly slimmer fit and was more of a pure white shade of silk. The designers took inspiration from a pink ball gown that was already part of Diana’s wardrobe.

Elizabeth revealed that she never actually finished the backup dress:

I just thought, 'If anything happens, we'll finish it off and have it ready’.

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About the whereabouts of the dress now, she added: ‘It likely ended up on some sample rail. It probably got reused, torn up, thrown out, who knows?

However, Elizabeth did keep her sketches and recently recreated the backup gown. It was sold to the Princess Diana Museum for an undisclosed sum. The museum’s director and curator, Renae Plant, said: ‘We never got to see that dress on Diana and thought it would be lovely to envision it. You cannot put a price tag on history.’

Read more:

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Sources used:

Mirror: Princess Diana's secret second wedding dress that had three major differences to first

People: Princess Diana's Secret Backup Wedding Dress Recreated by Designer Elizabeth Emanuel 43 Years Later (Exclusive)

Princess Diana, Kate Middleton: The royal family's most popular wedding dresses, ranked Princess Diana, Kate Middleton: The royal family's most popular wedding dresses, ranked