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Princess Diana's top-secret wedding dress had its own security team – exclusive photos

A safe and decoys were also required ahead of Princess Diana's 1981 wedding with King Charles

Princess Diana touching her tiara in her wedding carriage
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyWeddings Editor
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While many celebrities and royals have a professional security team to keep them safe during public outings, have you ever heard of a wedding dress needing the same protection?

That's exactly what was required when Princess Diana was preparing to marry the future King Charles in 1981. After their engagement was announced, the anticipation over what wedding dress she would choose reached a fever pitch, meaning extra security measures were put in place for designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel.

WATCH: All the best moments from Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding

Speaking to HELLO! about behind-the-scenes details of designing and creating the royal wedding dress, Elizabeth explained that Diana had recently cemented her place as a fashion icon after stepping out looking like a "Hollywood starlet" in a boned corset and plunging black dress to the Goldsmith Hall.

"She asked us to keep [the wedding dress] very, very secret, which we did. But I think there was so much interest when she did actually wear the black dress that the press wanted to know who is designing her wedding dress and they had to announce it at that time," she explained, adding: "Our staff were wonderful and very loyal and didn't talk to anybody."

Princess Diana's wedding dress guards Jim and Bert© Elizabeth Emanuel
Princess Diana's wedding dress was guarded by Jim and Bert

Once news of the designers was released to the public, Elizabeth said they had a number of measures in place to ensure that Diana's big wedding dress reveal would be a surprise on her big day, and not leaked to the press in advance. 

"We had the dress stored every night in a metal cabinet guarded by two guards, Jim and Bert. So there was somebody there 24 hours a day and we put shutters on all our windows, and we put false colour threads in the rubbish bins because people were going through our bins," Elizabeth continued. 

"And we also made a back-up dress just in case the secret came out which fortunately it didn't."

Amongst her archive of photos was one of Jim and Bert, dressed in smart shirts, ties, and epaulettes while on duty at the Brook Street, Mayfair studio.

Princess Diana and then-Prince Charles met in 1977 aged 16 and 29 when the royal was visiting her sister Sarah at their family home, Althorp. They began a romantic relationship in 1980, and he proposed during a private dinner at Buckingham Palace before the future Princess picked out her beautiful diamond and sapphire engagement ring from Garrard. 

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

They announced their engagement in February 1981 and exchanged vows at St Paul's Cathedral, with Diana walking down the aisle in her iconic puff-sleeve wedding dress that Elizabeth described as "theatrical."

The gown boasted a record-breaking 25-foot train and was hand-embellished with 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls, while a secret small blue bow was sewn into the waistband for Diana's "something blue" as well as a horseshoe for good luck.

The epic 25-foot train trailing behind Diana as the couple return from St Paul's following the ceremony© Getty
Princess Diana's wedding dress featured a 25-foot train

"[It was] a one-off, unique dress," the designer explained to HELLO!, admitting "it was controversial and very new." However, Diana wasn't one to shy away from rebellious fashion choices, starting with a hot pink dress she wore shortly before her big day.

The Emanuels' brief for the outfit Diana wore to her wedding ball at Buckingham Palace was "a very sexy dress to shock everyone," Elizabeth explained. An unearthed photo revealed a hot pink mermaid-style gown with a figure-hugging silhouette, cropped sleeves and a low V-neck with a dramatic ruffle trim. She described it as "a sexy little number and one that was certain to attract attention!"

LOOK: 7 Royals in Barbie pink! Princess Kate, Zara Tindall, Princess Beatrice & more surprising outfits 

READ: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding nod to childhood with late Princess Diana unveiled

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