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Monaco

The ultimate royal wedding dress: the fairy tale gown worn by Grace Kelly as she became a princess

It is perhaps the most talked about royal wedding dress of them all. When Grace Kelly, Oscar winning actress and Hollywood superstar, married Prince Rainier III of Monaco on April 19th 1956, she did it in a gown for the history books. The outfit became an instant classic and remains an icon to this day.

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The dress was picture perfect and that’s not really a surprise when the designer behind it had already made some of the most famous outfits in the world. Helen Rose was already a double Academy Award winner when she was selected to create the gown for the most famous royal wedding in decades. She worked for Metro Goldwyn Meyer, the same studio as Grace, and her creation was a gift from MGM to this celebrated regal bride.

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And the star of the show had plenty of input into the design of her most famous outfit. Grace worked closely with Helen Rose to come up with the final look and the pair are said to have looked a endless vintage creations as they planned this highly anticipated wedding dress.

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Helen Rose’s design was pure white and included silk taffeta and peau de soie (a soft silk with a matt finish) as well as tulle. But the best known element is the lace which covered the bodice and which was shaped into a high neck and long sleeves. Famous Brussels lace, over 125 years old, was incorporated into the design. The dress also features a wide band around the fitted waist and a full skirt as well as a relatively small train which included bow features.

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Grace’s tulle wedding veil was famously held in place with a lace covered Juliet cap rather than a tiara while the bride’s small posy of lily of the valleys, held on top of a prayer book, completed the look.

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The dress now belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has drawn huge crowds when it has been put on occasional display. And no wonder – Grace Kelly’s wedding dress remains one of the most famous royal outfits of modern times.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.