On this day in history, Princess Diana married King Charles – but did you know her designer was ‘horrified’ by the wedding dress on the big day?

Princess Diana and King Charles were married on this day, 42 years ago

Princess Diana and King Charles were married 42 years ago today
(Image credit: Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

On this day, July 29, over four decades ago, history was made as the then-Lady Diana Spencer walked down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral to marry the then-Prince Charles. Their wedding was one of the most anticipated events across the globe, and over 750 million people tuned in to watch the wedding. While there was no happily ever after for Diana and Charles, it was a fairy tale wedding – except for one detail which left the dress designers “horrified.”

Princess Diana’s wedding dress is seared into the public consciousness now – up there with the likes of Madonna’s cone bar or Jennifer Lopez’s Versace dress – but, before this day 42 years ago, it was considered the “most closely guarded secret in fashion history.”

Nobody knew what to expect before Diana walked down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral to marry the now King Charles on this day 42 years ago (July 29, 1981).

Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The marriage didn’t last, but the wedding has gone down in history. Let’s revisit the big day, hidden details in her dress and why the designers were left horrified on the day…

This detail left the designers “horrified” on the wedding day

Designed by husband-and-wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, Elizabeth later described being “horrified” by what she saw on the wedding day.

Recalling the moment she saw Diana in her wedding dress, Elizabeth admitted she “felt faint” during an appearance on ITV's Invitation to the Royal Wedding in 2018.

And it was all because of the twenty-five-foot train.

Diana's 25 foot wedding dress train ended up badly wrinkled on the day

(Image credit: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

According to writer Andrew Morton, in Diana: Her True Story, the designers realised too late that they had forgotten to allow for the train's length in relation to the size of the glass coach Diana and her father rode in to the ceremony.

They found it near impossible to fit her elaborate gown inside the glass coach, and the train ended up badly wrinkled despite Diana's efforts.

Speaking on the ITV show, Elizabeth revealed, “I was horrified, really, because it was quite a lot of creasing. It was a lot more than we thought.”

Still, that hasn’t stopped the dress being immortalised in history. In 2018, the dress was chosen as one of the "Most Influential British Royal Wedding Dresses of All Time" by Time magazine.

However, Diana’s dress was pipped to the top spot of favourite royal wedding dresses earlier this year.

Kate Middleton’s wedding dress was picked as readers’ favourite – while Diana’s came in at fifth.

Kate Middleton's wedding dress was recently voted as the favourite royal wedding gown of all time

(Image credit: David Jones- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

How much did Princess Diana’s dress cost?

While sources disagree on the exact cost, many suggest the dress was valued at an estimated £9000 in 1981 – which would be considerably higher today due to inflation.  

The ivory taffeta gown was intricately embroidered with sequins, frilled lace, and 10,000 pearls centring on a heart motif.

The husband-and-wife design team described it as a dress that “had to be something that was going to go down in history, but also something that Diana loved”, and which would be “suitably dramatic in order to make an impression.”

An 18-carat gold horseshoe was stitched into the petticoats as a sign of good fortune and lace originally belonging to Queen Mary was attached to the gown.

Princess Diana's wedding dress included over 10,000 pearls

(Image credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

While unseen due to the enormous gown, Diana also had extravagant shoes made for the big day.

Princess Diana's silk shoes were covered in 542 sequins and 132 pearls and took six months to make.

While the heels themselves remained low to the ground, the arch of each shoe included the initials C and D - for Charles and Diana.

Diana and Charles' wedding was seen by over 750 million people worldwide

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

What happened to Princess Diana’s back-up wedding dress?

An urban legend has long followed Diana’s dress – or dresses.

While the designers have always denied making replicas of the dress, they did reveal that there was an alternate dress created with a much more pronounced V-neckline and no lace, meant to be used if her original dress design leaked.

Interestingly, this second dress has never been seen – and it mysteriously vanished from the studio, never to be found.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.