Sure, Princess Diana Had a Backup Wedding Dress—But It Turns Out She Had 2 More ‘Just in Case’ Items

Hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years since Princess Diana said “I do” to Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. But it’s also perfect timing because Diana’s iconic wedding gown, designed by then up-and-coming designers David and Elizabeth Emmanuel, is now on display through January 2022 at Kensington Palace.

And lucky for us, Matthew Storey, who curated the exhibition at Historic Royal Palaces, dropped by the Royally Obsessed podcast to chat about Diana’s dress, but also shed light on the backup plans that were made for it should the design accidentally leak to the public ahead of Diana and Charles’s wedding day.

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“There was a second dress made,” Storey confirms. “They had another dress that was a slightly different design, but one that could have been finished very quickly just in case the design of the actual dress leaked [before their wedding day].”

But that’s not the only contingency plan the Emmanuels made. “The actual dress also had a backup skirt—in other words, a spare skirt for if Diana had spilled something down it, which is every bride’s nightmare, they had a backup skirt ready to go so they could just have put it over her skirt and no would have known.”

That’s a fascinating insight especially given what we’ve learned since the occasion, which is that Diana splashed her favorite perfume, Quelques Fleurs, on her gown while getting ready and it left a mark behind, according to her wedding day makeup artist Barbara Daly. (We guess it didn’t leave a big enough stain to call in the replacement option, but so cool to know she had one.)

princess diana wedding dress kensington palace
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Beyond that, Storey mentioned that there was also a plan in the event of inclement weather. “Let’s be honest, because it’s England and just in case of rain, [the designers] used the fabric of the dress to create a parasol for Diana. That way, if it had rained, she would have been protected.”

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of the meetings where Diana’s team strategized about all the potential hiccups.

FYI, the exhibit includes way more than just the dress—the Emmanuel’s archive material (swatches, sketches, patterns) that was packed into trunks and locked in a vault at the City of London bank after the wedding is also on display for the first time, says Storey.

The only thing left to do is figure out when we can get on a plane to London.

For more about the royals, listen to the Royally Obsessed podcast with co-hosts Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. Subscribe now or follow us on Instagram @royallyobsessedpodcast.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...