Nearly four decades ago, millions of people around the world watched Prince Charles and Princess Diana tie the knot in what was dubbed then as the “wedding of the century.” There were so many memorable moments from the lavish affair but perhaps none more so than Diana’s dress. If you weren’t old enough to see the ceremony on TV, you’ve seen pictures of the extravagant dress the princess wore that day.
The gown was so iconic and became a staple in bridal fashion in the years following the royal event. But the then-husband and wife design team, David and Elizabeth Emanuel, revealed that wasn’t the only dress they made for the bride. They made another but not because Diana or anyone else requested they do so.
Here’s the real reason they made more than one dress and where that second gown is today.
Princess Diana had a secret backup wedding dress
The stunning dress Diana did wear was made with ivory taffeta fabric and featured elegant embroidery, antique lace, 10,000 pearls, and a 25-foot-long train. Elizabeth Emanuel still remembers what she thought when she first saw Diana outside of St Paul’s in the dress she and her husband at the time created.
“When she came out of that carriage, it was the most wonderful vision I’d ever seen. She looked like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, unfurling her wings and about to fly,” Elizabeth recalled, adding, “It was so romantic.”
But there was another gown made for the big day as well. You may think the royals would have asked that a backup be made just in case something happened to the original one but actually Diana didn’t even know the Emanuels made the second dress.
“We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it,” David told People.
“Unless I am having a brain seizure, trying on a second dress was the last thing Diana would have done,” Elizabeth previously said in an interview with CBS News. “She was so busy, we had to fit all our fittings around her schedule. There was absolutely no way she could have tried on that dress.”
The reason they made the second dress and where it is today
The reason David and Elizabeth made the second dress was 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 said. “Had the secret of the real dress got out it’s possible that Diana would actually have worn this one.”
David added, “We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really.”
The former couple explained that the backup dress was similar to the one Diana 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.
So where is this mystery gown today? Well turns out 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!”