How Princess Diana Made Royal History With Record-Breaking Wedding Dress

Nearly four decades ago Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer tied the knot. The event, which took place on July 29, 1981, was dubbed the “wedding of the century” and seemed to resembled a tale out of a storybook.

They were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in front of around 3,000 guests and another 750 million who tuned in from around the world. The lavish affair cost around $100 million and the dress Princess Diana donned became iconic and made history. Here’s what her dress had that no other royal bride had before her.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana wedding portrait
Prince Charles and Princess Diana wedding portrait | David Levenson/Getty Images

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Why Princess Diana’s wedding dress was record-breaking

Princess Diana’s wedding dress was created by then-husband and wife design team David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

Diana’s gown was made with ivory taffeta fabric featuring elegant embroidery, antique lace, and 10,000 pearls. And who can forget that train?

Pop Sugar reported the gown’s 25-foot-long train was record-breaking as it was the longest train in royal family history at that time. Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne all had much shorter trains. Prior to Diana, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark had the longest train at 20 feet.

Perhaps even more impressive was Diana’s tulle veil which measured 153 yards, according to Town & Country.

Princess Diana wedding dress
Princess Diana wedding dress | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Diana’s dress designers made a backup gown that has disappeared

Leading up to the royal wedding, the question on everyone’s mind was what Diana’s dress would look like. To keep it a secret until the big day David and Elizabeth went to great lengths and even installed a safe to store designs and fabric swatches. They also made a backup dress in case any of the design details of the original got leaked to the press.

“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 former couple explained that the backup dress was similar to the one the Princess of Wales wore but more simplistic. It was made with the same ivory silk taffeta but had a deeper ruffled neckline, shorter frilled sleeves, and a ball skirt with no lace hem.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles' royal wedding
Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ royal wedding | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

So where is that gown today? Well no one really knows.

“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.

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