Follow Vogue Arabia

Princess Diana Had a Secret Second Wedding Dress

Time, divorce, and death haven’t lessened fascination with anything related to Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s wedding—and, apparently, there’s still plenty to discover, like the fact that Princess Diana’s wedding dress had a secret alternative.


Photo: Getty

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And there’s no way that designer Elizabeth Emanuel was going to let herself fail when she was asked to design a wedding dress for 20-year-old Diana Spencer in advance of her 1981 wedding to the then-Prince Charles.

“I was a bit neurotic, and I thought, ‘What happens if somebody breaks in and steals the dress or something spills or there’s a fire or it gets stolen?’” Emanuel told People about her own pre-wedding jitters 43 years ago. “So I thought, ‘I’m gonna make a backup dress.’”

And that’s exactly what she and her now ex-husband David Emanuel did, designing and then beginning to construct a dress that differed hugely from Diana’s now-iconic ivory gown, with its 25-foot train and veil-and-tiara combo.

“I just thought, ‘If anything happens, we’ll finish it off and have it ready,’” Elizabeth said of the dress, which featured fitted sleeves with frilled cuffs, and left off both the intricate hand-embroidered embellishments and cathedral train that the final dress featured. It was also a truer white than Diana’s ivory gown. “It likely ended up on some sample rail,” Elizabeth said of the unfinished contingency dress. “It probably got reused, torn up, thrown out, who knows?”

Now, using old sketches and thumbnails the designer has brought the dress that never was to life. It will be on display at the virtual interactive Princess Diana Museum.

View All
Vogue Collection