The Wedding Dress

It was taken for granted that Lady Diana would go to one of the long-established royal couturiers, such as Norman Hartnell or Hardy Amies, who had been providing tasteful styles for the royals since the days when the Queen Mother was Queen Consort. Diana, though, had her own ideas. She wanted something less mature than vintage Hartnell or Amies.


Considering she was only 20, she was right. The designers Diana chose were David and Elizabeth Emanuel. They had first come to Diana's attention when she saw one of their blouses, a shell-pink chiffon creation with a high frilled neck. This was precisely the sort of feminine, romantic style which appealed to the young Diana, who liked high frilled necklines. She also chose Emanuel for her first outing as Charles' fiancĂ©e in March 1981, wearing their off-the-shoulder evening gown, which revealed more bust than she intended.


As the Emanuel set to work on designing the wedding dress, the fashion world and fashion journalists buzzed with curiosity and anticipation. The secret was, of course, meticulously kept for over five months, but on the wedding day itself, the first glimpse was a teasing one. Diana looked as if she had stepped straight from the pages of a fairy story book, or from one of those rich, glowing royal portraits which were fashioned to flatter by Renaissance artists. This was no flattery, though, Diana looked superb. Made from heavy ivory taffeta woven and spun at Lullingstone, the only silk farm in England, the dress was romantic. Its shape recalled the days, over 150 years before, when wide crinolines were in fashion. The dress had all the romantic trimmings - bows, lace, big puffed sleeves, a tracery of flower-shaped lace along with hem and a wide deep lace collar which fluffed out over the shoulders and a 25 foot train. The front of the bodice featured a panel of lace which reached down to merge with yet more lace encircling the waist. 


'Something blue' was a blue bow, sewn to the waistband. A taffeta bow was placed where the two halves of the collar met, echoed by similar bows at the point where the full sleeves reached a veritable froth of lace looping around Diana's arms. The lace was the traditional Honiton, made famous by the royal robe in which generations of royal infants were christened. Thousands of tiny mother of pearl sequins sparkled from the lace, the result of hours of toil with needles by Elizabeth Emanuel and her mother, who had not dared to farm the work out for fear of breaching the strict security.


For luck, Diana carried an 18 carat gold horseshoe made by jeweller, Douglas Buchanan, and she wore the Spencer family tiara and earrings which were one of the heirlooms belonging to her aristocratic family. Fashioned from diamonds, the tiara was made in a beautiful leaf design with flower stems and leaves forming swirls and enclosing, at the front, the ideal motif for the occasion, a heart. Diana's bridesmaids were dressed to look like miniatures of the new Princess, with similar puff sleeves, wide skirts and frilly lace collars. Each carried a bouquet and they were all crowned with circles of flowers.

Diana's Bridesmaids Were Dressed To Look Like Miniatures Of The New Princess

A Gold Ring Fit For A Princess

On July 29, a wedding ring made from gold dug from a mine by the Welsh miner Paul Williams will be slipped on the finger of Lady Diana Spencer by Prince Charles. Jerry Williams, son of the mine owner, is the fourth generation of his family to work the Clogau mine  in Wales, the traditional supplier of gold for royal wedding rings. The Williams family owns the land where the mine is sited. The gold mine was discovered in the middle of the 19th century when copper miners from the next valley spied it. Boom years followed.


In the last 100 years, they Williams family has been associated with the mine, it has supplied gold for rings for Princess Mary who married the future King George V, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne. Mr. Williams, who worked in Broken Hill from 1970 to 1978, said: "We are happy to supply the gold for the great day Prince Charles weds Lady Diana." 


Ever since the marriage of Princess Mary to the then Duke of York on July 6, 1893, it has been the custom to use native gold for royal wedding rings. But in Britain, gold is only found in the remote Merioneth area of Wales. That is why the Clogau mine has played such an important part in royal weddings. In 1904, the Clogau produced over 500kg of gold. The ore, once mined, is sent to Birmingham for smelting and assaying before going to Garrard's, the royal jewellers in London.

Bringing Out The Natural Beauty Of England's Rose

Barbara Daly started her career as a make-up artist at the BBC, and was recommended to Lady Diana by the beauty editor of Vogue. "A few months before the wedding, I went to her apartment at Buckingham Palace. She was very welcoming . I did some test make-up and the next day I got a call requesting to do the wedding," Barbara said. 


"Lady Diana didn't have any strong feelings about the way she should look, I just put my proposals forward and we discussed it at length. I wanted her to look as natural as possible. I didn't want to lose sight of the fact that she was 20 and a very beautiful girl. I wanted her youth to come through and Lady Diana felt the same. At the time, she wasn't using a lot of make-up from day to day. We used to have a giggle because I tried to wean her off blue eyeliner. I wanted to get her into wearing softer colours, golds and browns, because they brought out those amazing blue eyes," she said.


On the morning of the wedding, Barbara arrived early at Clarence House to begin work. The make-up session took about 45 minutes, before a car raced her off to St. Paul's Cathedral. "I packed a mini make-up kit. It had been arranged that after the ceremony, I'd go into the vestry and take Princess Diana's veil off to touch-up her make-up. It was very hot in there and we wanted to make sure that her make-up was all right. Afterwards, a car was ready to take me back to Buckingham Palace. There was just time to touch up Princess Diana's make-up before the photo session and I remember putting a bit of powder on Prince Charles as well," she said.

The Top Secret Bouquet

Florist Doris Wellham was at her workbench early on the day of the royal wedding - 3 am to be precise. As head florist at London firm Longmans, she was in sole charge of Lady Diana's bridal flowers and had been at work until midnight making a final practice bouquet. On the morning of the wedding, she and her 3 assistants set to work making not just one bridal bouquet, but two. "We made one for Lady Diana to carry during the ceremony and an identical one to be used in the photographs at Buckingham Palace," she said. Both bouquets were delivered to the Palace at 7.45 am.


In 36 years with the firm, Doris had made floral arrangements for Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Michael, the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra. Doris, who retired in 1991, was determined to do Lady Diana proud. "The bouquet had to be special and it obviously had to go with her dress, so I went to the Emanuels. We talked it over, although they didn't give any secrets away. The bouquet was also top secret. I couldn't tell a soul, not even my husband, only my boss, David Longman, and myself knew about it. It was very cloak and dagger," she said.


Doris was told which flowers Lady Diana wanted and then made sketches for her approval. Finally, she made up a sample bouquet in silk and took it to Buckingham Palace to show the bride to be. "Diana had just finished a ballet lesson and she came rushing in, apologising profusely and hoping she hadn't kept us waiting. She seemed very pleased with the bouquet and I showed her how to hold it, resting it gently on her hip. She seemed to me to be a very sweet person. I was very nervous at meeting her but she put me at my ease," she said.


In it's way, Lady Diana's wedding bouquet was every bit as stunning as her dress. It was 42 inches long, 15 inches wide and distinctly Edwardian in style. Many of the British-grown flowers were chosen for their special significance.


There were yellow 'Mountbatten' roses, named after Prince Charles' late mentor, white orchids, and myrtle, a traditional wedding flower that had been in Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet. The bouquet was beautifully scented, from the profusion of gardenias, freesia and lily of the valley. The arrangement was set off by 200 exquisite stephanotis flowers, each of which had to be wired and packed with damp cotton wool to keep them fresh.

Jerry Williams Carrying An Ore From The Family Mine In Wales

BBC Make-up Artist Barbara Daly

Doris With Her Assistants Arranging The Bridal Bouquet At Longmans Firm

The Cinderella Slippers

Celebrity cobbler Clive Shilton made two identical pairs for Lady Diana. "I made two pairs because so much can go wrong. Shoes are incredibly complex and people don't realise what goes into making them. I was worried we might drop a spot of glue or dye in one. Diana would try on both pairs because we didn't know until the last minute which ones she would wear on the day," he said.


While the fashion world speculated about who would design the dress, Clive cannily predicted that it would be the Emanuels. "The Emanuels were the big thing in Vogue at the time. I rang Liz and said are you doing it, she said no comment but if we do, you'll make the shoes. The next day, she rang and said we've got a special client coming in - can you come and measure? I knew immediately. It all happened pretty quickly," he said. 


Clive made the short trip from his Covent Garden workshop to the Emanuels' Mayfair studio. "Lady Diana was very shy, very sweet, very smiley-eyed, just a young Sloane girl, really. Her main concern was that she wouldn't appear taller than Prince Charles, and because she was very tall, the shoes would have to have as low a heel as possible," he said. 


Lady Diana chose a heart-shaped tab to decorate the front of her wedding slippers. "I gave her several to choose from and she picked that one. She was feeling incredibly romantic," said Clive. The heart was edged with gold piping and some of Queen Mary's lace sent from Buckingham Palace. The soles were soft suede so Lady Diana wouldn't slip on the big day, while the arches were painted with gold leaf.


It took Clive 6 months to make the slippers for Lady Diana, and when he presented them to her at the Emanuels studio the week before the wedding, he also gave her a miniature pair as a wedding gift. "She was thrilled and it was rather sweet, really, because as she walked away down the stairs, she gave us a little wave and said wish me luck," Clive said. 


Clive also designed a traditional garter to match the slippers, complete with a tiny blue bow, as well as a tiny golden horse shoe studded with diamonds, that was suede into the dress for good luck.

The Wedding Licence

For the royal wedding, 69 year old Harry Fisher was the scribe, who has been commissioned to write out the 700 word document with his quill, illuminate it and decorate his penmanship with curling stems, flowers and leaves in gold, blues and reds.  


Since 1947, Harry has been scribing documents for royal weddings, but only missed writing one licence, and that was for the wedding of Princess Anne to Captain Mark Philips. "The wording is the same for every royal licence, but the one I did for Prince Charles and Lady Diana was probably the nicest I've ever prepared. I was asked to make this one especially beautiful," he said.

A Cake To Make A Wish On

Chief Petty Officer David Avery, nicknamed 'Able Cakeman', has created a royal masterpiece, but he won't divulge how he did it. 


Chief Avery has made the biggest, richest wedding cake he has made in 20 years of baking cakes, but the recipe is in his head and he won't reveal it. He spent 3 and a half days preparing and baking the official royal wedding cake.


There will be other cakes, but Chief Avery's is the one the royal couple will cut together while they close their eyes and make a wish. "I was absolutely delighted when we offered to bake the cake here and Buckingham Palace accepted," he said at the Royal Naval Cookery School, Kent, where he is an instructor.


Chief Avery first heard he was making the royal wedding cake at the beginning of April and he started working immediately. The cake was stored away, in the Royal Naval School's kitchens.


The cake weighs 101.65 kilos, was 1.5m high, and Chief Avery planned to have five tiers. It took 2 days to sort out the English fruitcake with marzipan and an afternoon and a night to cook the cake, and it took half an hour to break all the eggs for the 220 pound marvel. The biggest layer was in the oven for 8 and a half hours.


Chief Avery designed the cake icing himself, but had to get the Palace's approval. He went to Buckingham Palace in the middle of May, and was received by Lady Diana. She loved the design and asked if she could keep the drawings of it. 


But it wasn't baking or icing the cake that worried Chief Avery, he was concerned about transporting the huge cake, completely intact, on a 3 hour trip from the Naval School's kitchens to Buckingham Palace.



  • Diana: An Extraordinary Life, By Weidenfeld Nicolson Illustrated. Publication Date: 14 September 1998

Celebrity Cobbler Clive Shilton

Harry Fisher Writing The Licence For The Royal Wedding

Chief Avery Revealed The Five Tiers English Fruitcake On The Wedding Day