It was a gown worthy of “the wedding of the century,” as it was once dubbed — a voluminous, fairy-tale design with a 25-foot, sequin-encrusted train, the longest worn by any British royal bride.
All eyes were on Princess Diana as she walked down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral to marry Prince Charles in the summer of 1981. While their marriage didn’t endure, her dress remains an iconic garment in fashion history.
And now Charles and Diana’s sons are sharing it with the world.
Princes William and Harry are loaning out their late mother’s gown for an upcoming exhibit at Kensington Palace, offering the public the opportunity to see the stunning dress for themselves.
The design, created by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, was a celebration of extravagance, with 10,000 mother of pearl sequins affixed to the ivory silk tulle, as well as history, with antique Carrickmacross lace that once belonged to Queen Mary, Prince Charles' great-grandmother, covering the front and back panels.
“Its gently scooped neckline and large puffed sleeves are trimmed with bows and deep ruffles of taffeta, a style popularized by the Princess in the early 1980s, while the full skirt is supported on a mountain of stiff net petticoats to create its famous silhouette," according to Historic Royal Palaces.
Elizabeth Emanuel previously reflected on seeing Diana wear the final product.
“I remember that moment as we were all waiting for the coach,” she said. “We were on the stairs and everybody was just quiet, just waiting for the row of carriages to come up. ... We had to put Diana in it and roll her train up and stuff her in there.”
She added, “I think it's something that, if the dress ever goes on exhibition, people are really going to appreciate it.”
That will no doubt hold true when "Royal Style in the Making" opens at Kensington Palace in June, ahead of what would've been Diana's 60th birthday. The exhibit will also include work from other royal couturiers of the 20th century.
The event not only gives the public a chance to see the dress up close, but it’s also given William and Harry a chance to act together to celebrate their mother’s memory during an important year for their family.
The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex recently came together for the funeral of their grandfather, Prince Philip, and they intend to do so again soon. On July 1, their mother's birthday, the princes are expected to unveil a statue of their mother.