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Princess Kate's £250k wedding dress: all the photos, details and the fascinating story behind it

The Princess of Wales wore two Alexander McQueen gowns in 2011

Kate Middleton's wedding dress
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
Updated: January 12, 2024
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It's been over a decade since Princess Kate exchanged vows with Prince William at Westminster Abbey, but her bridal gown continues to be one of the most memorable royal wedding looks of all time. Made in collaboration with Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, the timeless dress featured metres of lace, hidden details requested by the Princess of Wales, and even special nods to the Middletons, her new husband, and her late grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II.

The cost

The elegant lace dress is believed to have cost her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton (who footed the bill), £250,000. 

WATCH: Look Back At Prince William And Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding

Who was the designer?

Kate worked closely with Alexander McQueen's artistic director Sarah Burton on the design of the dress. "Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing," the Palace said in a statement. "Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterizes Alexander McQueen’s work."

This included an ivory satin Victorian-inspired corset bodice which was "narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips", alongside 58 organza-covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops at the back and a skirt that "echoes an opening flower."

In a rare comment about creating the royal wedding dress, Sarah told the New York Times, T Magazine: "I loved making the dress, I loved adapting my ideas to suit the person and the occasion, and we put our hearts into it. I respect the intimate nature of that lovely project and I respect the friendships that were forged during it... an instinctive, intelligent, imaginative young woman's wish for a beautiful wedding dress - or any kind of dress - is the most natural thing in the world. I was honoured to pick up the challenge and always will be."

The backstory

Take a look at the best photos and details of the royal bride's wedding dress, veil and jewellery....

Catherine Middleton with the father Michael Middleton and Maid of Honour Pippa Middleton arriving to her royal wedding© Chris Jackson

The underskirt

Thanks to Kate's sister and bridesmaid Pippa Middleton, fans were able to see the underskirt of the dress which was made out of silk tulle trimmed with lace.

Prince William and Princess Kate walking hand and hand out of Westminster Abbey© Chris Jackson

The lacemakers

It was covered in handmade lace created by the Royal School of Needlework. The youngest lace-maker on the team was 19 years old at the time, and the meticulous process saw the workers wash their hands every thirty minutes and renew the needles every three hours to ensure cleanliness.

Pippa Middleton holds Kate Middleton's dress as she prepares to walk down the aisle© Getty

The lace

Images of roses, thistles, daffodils, and shamrocks were placed on both the bodice and skirt. In a statement released by the palace, The Royal Family said: "The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s."

Kate Middleton in her wedding dress © Getty

The secrecy

Embroiderer Amanda Ewing, who was part of the team that made the gown, opened up about the level of secrecy surrounding its creation. "We knew who it was for, but it was very secret – we had net curtains up, and cleaners were not allowed into the room and the code on the door was changed," she said, adding: "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Prince William takes the hand of his bride Catherine Middleton, now to be known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, followed by Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton© WPA Pool

The train

Kate's train was an estimated 8.85 feet long, which made quite a statement as she walked down the aisle.

Princess Kate holding the programme at her royal wedding© WPA Pool

The something blue

Although it has never been pictured, the royal's gown reportedly had a hidden piece of blue ribbon sewn into the interior to act as her 'something blue.'

Father of the bride Michael Middleton lifts the bridal veil from his daughter Catherine Middleton's face© WPA Pool

The veil

Kate's veil was also crafted with hand-embroidered flowers and held in place by a Cartier halo tiara, which acted as her 'something borrowed' since it was originally gifted to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.

Kate Middleton wearing Cartier Halo tiara on her wedding day© Getty

The tiara

To hold the veil in place, the Princess wore a Cartier halo tiara borrowed from the late monarch. Made in 1936, the headpiece featured 16 scrolls with 739 brilliant diamonds and 149 baton diamonds, and it was presented to a young Princess Elizabeth by The Queen Mother on her 18th birthday.

The Princess of Wales' wedding hair was courtesy of hairdresser James Pryce from Richard Ward's salon© Getty

The earrings

The royal bride added a touch of sparkle with her Robinson Pelham earrings, which were a gift from her parents and designed to look like the Middleton family's coat of arms.

The Prince and Princess of Wales' famous post-wedding kiss occured on the Buckingham Palace balcony© WPA Pool

The bouquet

Kate's bouquet, which was designed by Shane Connolly, included hyacinth flowers for love, Lily-of-the-valley for happiness, Myrtle for love and marriage, and sweet William for gallantry.

According to the Palace, the sprig of myrtle came from the same plant used in Queen Elizabeth’s 1947 wedding flowers. It follows royal tradition started by Queen Victoria, who was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany. After planting it at their home Osborne House, Victoria's eldest daughter included it in her bouquet in 1858.

Princess Kate leaving Clarence House in her second wedding dress© WPA Pool

The second wedding dress

The royal later changed into her second gown, which was by the same designer. It featured a satin A-line skirt and a sweetheart neckline, which she accessorised with a sweet cream cardigan.

Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Kate view her wedding dress at the Buckinham Palace exhibition© WPA Pool

The display

After the wedding, Kate's first dress was on display at Buckingham Palace for fans to admire from July to October 2011. The Princess was joined by the late Queen Elizabeth to view her gown before the exhibition opened to the public.

READ: Carole Middleton's rare comments on behind-the-scenes wedding planning for daughter Kate

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