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Princess Diana's wedding dress featured a secret detail - exclusive interview with David Emanuel

David Emanuel spoke exclusively to HELLO! about Diana's dress

princess diana wedding dress
Kate Thomas
Kate ThomasLifestyle Managing Editor
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Royal fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of season 4 of The Crown on Netflix – and the day is finally here. The new series sees actress Emma Corrin recreating the moment Princess Diana walked down the aisle of St Paul's Cathedral in her incredible ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown.

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A few months ago, HELLO! sat down with the late Princess of Wales' wedding dress co-designer David Emanuel, who created the gown with ex-wife Elizabeth Emanuel, to discuss her July 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, which remains one of the most iconic moments in royal history – and certainly the most memorable dress!

With its record-breaking 25-foot train and 10,000 mother of pearl sequins and pearl embellishments, the beautiful design – valued at £151,000 last year – will go down in history.

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Speaking from the launch of The Wonder Room at Bromley Brides boutique in south east London, the Say Yes To The Dress host spilled the beans about working with Diana, from the design process, to the royal's "sweet" personality – and also revealed a little known fact about the gown.

Here are some of David's wonderful insights into what it was really like designing Diana's wedding dress…

princess diana prince charles© Photo: Getty Images

All eyes were on Diana when she wed Prince Charles in July 1981

Working with Princess Diana was a dream

"You've got the most beautiful woman, inside and out. It's not just the look and the frocks and the fashion. She genuinely was just sweet. She was very young", David said, recalling her charming and shy personality.

"There are so many quotes about Diana and a lot of them are nonsense. Diana was so sweet, she was young, she used to blush."

The designer was a 'natural' choice for Princess Diana

The Princess of Wales contacted David and his ex-wife and former design partner Elizabeth Emanuel after discovering their clothes on the set of a Vogue shoot.

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David said: "I did a few gowns for her before the wedding, the first one you saw in public was the strapless black dress with the sweetheart neckline as she got out of the limousine with Prince Charles - everyone gasped.

"The next day, I got a phone call from Buckingham Palace's press office. "Mr Emanuel, are you responsible for Lady Diana? Thank the Lord. The whole world is ringing up!"

princess diana dress train© Photo: Getty Images

Who can forget the 25-foot train as Diana entered St Paul's Cathedral?

"That was the start of seven gowns, and then out of the blue, she rang my studio and said, 'Would you do the honour of designing my wedding gown?'"

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"It happened very naturally, I was blown away. About a year later she said, 'You know, every designer in the world sent in a portfolio'. We didn't!"

Princess Diana didn't have a big entourage

The late icon was modest during the fittings and always went alone – until the very end. "It was just three of us, myself, my ex-wife and Diana. It happened very organically," David explained.

princess diana black dress© Photo: Getty Images

Diana in David and Elizabeth Emanuel's famous black dress 

"Finally, she said, 'Can I bring somebody?' I said, 'Who?'. She said, 'My mother'." When you think about it, you've got all these people with big entourages and the Princess of Wales just had her mother! As soon as Mrs Shand Kydd saw it and she loved it, we ripped up the design as we didn't want people to see it."

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Princess Diana was touched by David's secret gesture

Sharing a little known fact about the dress, David revealed the Princess of Wales was moved when he revealed he had enlisted a jeweller to sew a tiny gold horseshoe into the dress for good luck.

princess diana wedding dress sketch© Photo: Getty Images

A sketch of the Princess of Wales' dress

Of the surprise gesture, David said: "We only told her on the wedding day. She didn't know about the horseshoe for good luck, she was very touched. She was traditional."

The dress was made of antique lace (something old), material from a British silk farm (something new) and she had a small blue bow sewn into the waistband (something blue). The Spencer family tiara was of course her something borrowed.

David shares other secrets in his book, A Dress for Diana, which is available to buy on Amazon.

bromley brides david emanuel© Photo: Getty Images

David was speaking at the launch of The Wonder Room at Bromley Brides

David wouldn't change a thing about the dress

Designers David and Elizabeth wanted drama – and royal fans certainly got it. "We wanted drama, we wanted her to look young and fresh. She was going in as Lady Diana Spencer and coming out as the Princess of Wales. I wanted it light, we did sparkles in the veil. St Pauls is vast, so it couldn't have been a quiet little dress", he explained.

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He believes the trend is still prevalent to this day. "We introduced romance into bridal dresses. And now women are coming in asking for ballgowns, they want to make a statement. A full-blown dress, you want to be noticed."

David was launching The Wonder Room at Bromley Brides in south east London, a gorgeous Alice In Wonderland themed space where brides-to-be can treat themselves. To find out more, visit Bromley Brides

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