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Exclusive: Inside Princess Diana's final fitting for 'fairytale princess' wedding dress at Buckingham Palace

Prince Charles' first wife only saw her 25-foot wedding dress days before her 1981 nuptials

Prince Charles holding his bride Princess Diana's hand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyWeddings Editor
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Elizabeth Emanuel has shared never-before-known details about the process of designing Princess Diana's wedding dress with HELLO! – including the last-minute fitting at Buckingham Palace.

Shortly before 20-year-old Diana married Prince Charles, 32, Elizabeth and her ex David Emanuel travelled to the Queen's official London residence to find out what final tweaks needed to be made to Diana's "fairytale princess" gown.

Elizabeth Emanuel was pictured inside Buckingham Palace for Princess Diana's final wedding dress fitting© Elizabeth Emanuel
Elizabeth Emanuel was pictured inside Buckingham Palace for Princess Diana's final wedding dress fitting

"We had a final fitting at Buckingham Palace where, for the first time, we were able to unravel the train, because our showroom was very small. So we had to wait until we went to the Palace and use one of the corridors to unroll the train, which is 25 foot long!" said Elizabeth, who has also worked with Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor and Priyanka Chopra.

She added to HELLO!: "It was being altered continually because Diana did lose a lot of weight. So we didn't cut into it until the last moment."

The epic 25-foot train trailing behind Diana as the couple return from St Paul's following the ceremony© Getty
The royal's 25-foot train was only unravelled for the first time at her final wedding dress fitting

The designer secretly transported the iconic puff-sleeve wedding dress from Brook Street in Mayfair to the palace – a difficult feat considering she had hired guards to watch the showroom and safes to lock away the gown in a bid to prevent the design from being leaked to the press.

Sadly, no behind-the-scenes photos of Princess Diana at her final fitting have been revealed, but Elizabeth did share an exclusive black-and-white photo of herself and some of her colleagues. Holding garment bags, they stood on a narrow staircase in front of a large sash window in what was likely a private section of the palace.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana walking down the stairs at St. Paul's Cathedral following their wedding on July 29, 1981 © Getty
Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981

After the Buckingham Palace fitting, the gown was eventually transported to Clarence House, where Diana got ready on the morning of her wedding.

The former nursery assistant had given Elizabeth and David creative freedom to come up with a huge selection of designs which covered the carpet of their showroom floor. "I’m sure it must have been quite a daunting sight for the future princess and her mother who sat stunned and speechless for the first few minutes. We waited for a response for what seemed ages and then the smiles broke out," Elizabeth explained.

Elizabeth Emanuel in 1981© Getty
The designer spoke to HELLO! about Princess Diana's wedding dress

They settled on a "very theatrical, very dramatic" gown that embodied the 80s, complete with lace-trimmed sleeves, a ruffle neckline and a 25-foot train, which she paired with flat shoes with the bride and groom's initials on the bottom and a 140-metre veil.

Princess Diana in her wedding dress© Getty
Elizabeth described Diana's dress as "theatrical"

Elizabeth said the grand wedding venue of St Paul's Cathedral warranted an equally impressive gown to mark Diana's entrance into the royal family.

WATCH: Princess Diana spotted 'looking' for Queen Consort Camilla at King Charles wedding

"We knew the wedding was going to be in St. Paul's. And that's huge inside so we wanted the dress to stand out, but also for Diana, we wanted to make her look like a fairy princess," she recalled.

Describing the gown, which was not the only one Elizabeth and David made for Diana, as "controversial and very new", she continued: "There had never been a gown like that before. Mainly because we weren't given any constraints and we were out of college and we just loved designing and flamboyance and were all into lace and frills and ruffles, and it was the age of new romance."

READ: Sarah Ferguson's unconventional bridal crown inspired by mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth?

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