Princess Diana’s secret wedding dress
The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer is no doubt one of the most memorable events in the history of the British royal family. It was the first time a commoner had married an heir to the British throne since 1660. It ushered in the age of the People’s Princess, as Diana broke down barriers between the royals and the public and became “a queen of people’s hearts.” And it debuted her iconic wedding dress that, until then, was considered “the most closely guarded secret in fashion history.”
But that secret actually has a rival: a second, secret wedding dress that Princess Diana never even tried on.
You already know what the actual wedding dress looks like. The ivory taffeta gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel featured elegant embroidery, antique lace, 10,000 pearls, and an impressive 25-foot-long train. Possibly more impressive, the sought-after designs for the dress managed to stay confidential until the day of the wedding. The husband-wife design team also made an exact duplicate of this dress to be put on display at Madame Tussauds. (These were Princess Diana’s last words before she died.)
Yet there was a third dress in the mix that few knew about until Elizabeth Emanuel revealed the truth to PEOPLE in a 2011 interview. She told the magazine that they had made a backup dress in case of an emergency, such as if the designs for her real dress had been leaked. “At the time we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise,” she said.
“We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it,” Emanuel added. “We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really.”
Similar to the original, the third dress was an ivory silk taffeta gown that had the same ruffles around the neck, but no lace. However, it was never finished.
“It was only three-quarters finished,” she told the Daily Mail in a 2017 interview. “We simply didn’t have time to make it in its entirety, so none of the embroidery or finishing touches were done.”
And the secrets keep on coming. Not only does this mystery dress exist at all, but now no one knows where it is. Not even Emanuel herself. According to her, it hung in their studio “for a long time,” and then seemingly vanished without a trace. (Here are 15 facts you never knew about past royal weddings.)
“I don’t know if we sold it or put it into storage. It was such a busy time,” Emanuel told the Daily Mail. “I’m sure it’ll turn up in a bag one day!”
Until that mystery gets solved, all we can do is mimic Emanuel’s optimism and hope that one day, we too will see The Dress Diana Never Wore.