Diana's wedding dress 'set benchmark for royal brides' says expert

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Princess Diana's wedding dress to be exhibited at Kensington Palace

Princess Diana's wedding dress "set a benchmark for royal brides to come" according to a fashion journalist and expert.

Diana's wedding dress, which she wore when she married Prince Charles in 1981, is to go on display for the first time in more than 25 years, after her sons Princes Harry and William agreed that it would form part of an exhibition.

The dress is part of the princes' private collection of her items, which they inherited when Harry turned 30 in 2014. Previously it had been in her brother, Earl Spencer's possession after her 1997 death.

It will be on display at Kensington Palace from 3 June, part of the temporary exhibition Royal Style In The Making.

Fashion journalist Claudia Joseph said: "I think all royal wedding dresses are hugely influential – Princess Diana, the Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex are all style icons who have looked like fairytale princesses on their wedding day.

"But I believe that Diana’s dress was particularly iconic - not only did she set the record for the longest train in royal history but she set a benchmark for royal brides to come."

The Princess of Wales seated in her bridal gown at Buckingham Palace after her marriage to Prince Charles at St. Paul's Cathedral.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Princess Diana in her dress after her wedding in 1981. (PA Images via Getty Images)
Undated handout photo issued by Historic Royal Palaces of Diana, Princess of Wales's famous wedding dress which is set to go on show at Kensington Palace for the first time in 25 years. Issue date: Monday April 26, 2021.
Diana's wedding dress was made of silk taffeta and featured big bows. (PA/Historic Royal Palaces)

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Kensington Palace has not commented on whether the brothers will view the dress when they are reunited on 1 July for the unveiling of the statue of Diana at the same palace.

The exhibition will be closed to the public that day as the brothers reunite on what would have been her 60th birthday.

Diana's dress was a full silk taffeta gown made by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. It features a fitted bodice overlaid at the centre, both front and back, with panels of antique Carrickmacross lace which originally belonged to Queen Mary – Charles’s great-grandmother.

The scooped neckline and large puffed sleeves, with bows and taffeta, were popularised by the princess through the decade. The huge skirt featured a mountain of stiff net petticoats.

Undated handout photo issued by Historic Royal Palaces of Diana, Princess of Wales's famous wedding dress which is set to go on show at Kensington Palace for the first time in 25 years. Issue date: Monday April 26, 2021.
The dress hasn't been on display in 25 years and is part of William and Harry's collection. (PA/Historic Royal Palaces)
Undated handout photo issued by Historic Royal Palaces of Diana, Princess of Wales's famous wedding dress which is set to go on show at Kensington Palace for the first time in 25 years. Issue date: Monday April 26, 2021.
The dress set a record for longest train. (PA/Historic Royal Palaces)

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The exhibition will look at the relationship between fashion designers and their royal clients and includes several never-before-seen items including the rare surviving toile for the 1937 coronation dress of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Matthew Storey, exhibition curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Our summer exhibition at Kensington Palace will shine a spotlight on some of the greatest talents of British design, whose work has been instrumental in shaping the visual identity of the royal family across the 20th century.

“We’ll be exploring how the partnership between each designer and client worked, and revealing the process behind the creation of a number of the most important couture commissions in royal history.

“While one of the highlights will undoubtedly be Diana, Princess of Wales’s show-stopping Emanuel-designed wedding dress – which goes on show at the palace for the first time in 25 years – we’ve got some real surprises up our sleeve for fashion fans.”

Former curator at HRP, Eleri Lynn, explained last year that the wedding dress could only go on display if William and Harry agreed to it. Fortunately, they did. 

Watch: David Emanuel reveals what Princess Diana was really like

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