Diana's wedding dress designer remembers 'fun and joyous' royal

Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer David Emanuel says memories of ‘fun and joyous’ royal have come ‘flooding back’ as her gown goes on display at Kensington Palace for the first time in 25 years

  •  David, 68, was the co-designer of the breathtaking dress worn by Princess Diana
  •  Designer described late royal as a ‘global icon of style, beauty and compassion’
  • Says she turned from teenager into an ‘extraordinary woman’ in front of his eyes
  • The gown was unveiled at Kensington Palace yesterday ahead of exhibit today 

Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer says that memories of the ‘fun and joyous’ Diana have come ‘flooding back to him’ now her iconic gown has gone on display.  

David Emanuel, 68, was the co-designer of the breathtaking dress worn by Princess Diana on her wedding day at St Paul’s Cathedral, which has now been moved to Kensington Palace for a new royal fashion exhibition. 

He described the late royal as a ‘global icon of style, beauty and compassion’, recalling how she transformed from a teenager into an ‘extraordinary woman’ in the time he worked with her.  

Appearing on Lorraine from outside Kensington Palace, the London-based designer said that Diana and Charles’ wedding day was a ‘joyous occasion’ during a time of ‘social unrest’ in 1981. 

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Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer said that memories of the ‘fun and joyous’ Diana have come ‘flooding back to him’ now her iconic gown has gone on display

Princess Diana’s breathtaking wedding dress has gone on display at Kensington Palace ahead of a new royal fashion exhibition opening today

‘It’s hard to believe it’s 40 years ago, all these memories come flooding back. It was fun, she was full of life, joyous,’ said David. ‘I know there was unrest in London, but people were aching for a fabulous time.

‘It was a holiday, everyone had street parties, everyone came out with their flags and it was a joyous occasion.’  

He later added: ‘When I first met her she was a teenager and she turned into this extraordinary woman. She was a global icon of style, beauty and compassion and that’s how the public loved her. She was a philanthropist, she cared, and that’s why people adored her.’  

The exhibition, opening today, will feature never-before-seen items from the archives of some of the most celebrated royal couturiers, set alongside examples of the stylish ensembles created for Princess Diana, the Queen and the Queen Mother. 

David Emanuel, 68, was the co-designer of the breathtaking dress worn by Princess Diana on her wedding day and appeared on Lorraine from outside Kensington Palace today 

Photographs released yesterday show Diana’s Emmanuel dress – complete with its spectacular sequin encrusted train, which at 25 feet dramatically filled the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral 

The displays will include original sketches, fabric swatches and handwritten notes used by designers including Emanuel, David Sassoon and Norman Hartnell when creating one-of-a-kind pieces for their royal clients. 

Speaking of when he last saw the Princess of Wales’ gown, he said: ‘I last saw it at Diana’s home. You remember her brother did an exhibition before it toured the world, it was extraordinary. 

‘That dress has made millions and millions of dollars for good causes and charities. I was invited up by Charles Spencer before it opened officially to the public and then he travelled the world with it.’ 

David, who designed and made the gown with his ex-wife Elizabeth, recalled a light-hearted moment during the 1981 wedding when the Queen mother stumbled across him checking Diana’s petticoat buttons underneath her gown. 

He told: ‘She was all dressed ready to go, looking fabulous, the beautiful blue eyes and I said “Darling, did you check the hooks in your petticoat” and she said “No”. I had visions that huge petty would go adrift. 

David was the last person to speak to Diana before she walked down the aisle at St Paul’s Cathedral, but refused to give away what he whispered in her ear before marrying Charles 

‘I said “There’s only one way to find out”, I went and checked and as I was resurfacing under her wedding gown, Diana said “David have you met the Queen Mother?” And there standing right there was the Queen Mother with a rather quizzical look on her face. 

‘All those memories come back she was fun and full of life, and once those blue eyes set on you, it was all over.’

David was the last person to speak to Diana before she walked down the aisle at St Paul’s Cathedral, but refused to give away what he whispered in her ear before marrying Charles. 

‘What happened was as she arrived there were the roars and crowds outside and Elizabeth took the train. I concentrated on the face veil, and then I literally handed her her glorious bouquet and whispered a few words to her…I’m not going to tell you what I said.’ 

David lent his expertise to Netflix while they recreated the wedding dress for the latest season of royal drama The Crown. Pictured: Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in The Crown

The designer recalled his ‘many, many visits’ to Kensington Palace and remembered hearing Princes William and Harry playing in the background as children while he did dress fittings for Diana. 

David lent his expertise to Netflix while they recreated the wedding dress for the latest season of royal drama The Crown and admitted the costume team were ‘terribly nervous’. 

‘I gave them pictures of my book and the official hand out from the day and said “What’s the problem?” And they had teams of seamstresses waiting with the costume designer. They said: “The colour” and on this board there were so many colours, I said “That’s the one, get on with it, carry on”. 

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