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British RoyalsFashion

David Emanuel, Diana’s wedding dress designer, describes working with his ‘sweet as pie’ royal client

Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales
Joe Haupt via Flickr

One of the designers of Diana, Princess of Wales’s wedding dress is looking back fondly at his “sweet as pie” royal client as the world’s most famous wedding dress is prepared for public display for the first time in 20 years.

In a wide-ranging and exclusive interview with The Guardian, David Emanuel, revealed that Diana’s dress, created nearly 40 years ago, “comes back in a flash, like it was yesterday. It was magical,” when discussing it, and noted that the dress was inspired by the wedding venue, St. Paul’s Cathedral, “St Paul’s is enormous, huge—you couldn’t do a low-key little gown.”

David and then-wife and creative partner Elizabeth, landed the commission of a lifetime when they were hired to create Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress. Speaking about Diana’s temperament, he recalled that, “I’ve dealt with movie stars, actresses, divas, you name it, but this girl did not change from day one until the end. She was sweet as pie.”

On working with the soon-to-be Princess of Wales, David recalled, “Everything was straightforward. She made it fun. Lordy, lord, was she beautiful.”

Diana’s wedding dress will be displayed this summer at Kensington Palace as part of the ‘Royal Style in the Making’ exhibition that will trace the history of royal fashion and the roles designers played in creating iconic fashion pieces. Diana’s wedding dress, which has not been publicly displayed in decades, is on loan from The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex.

Emanuel also spoke about the opportunities his most famous client provided for his later career, noting that he’d been a consultant on the third season of The Crown to help with the replica wedding dress worn by Emma Corrin’s Diana. “They had all these swatches. I said ‘That one’ in two seconds flat. A very pale, soft, iridescent ivory. Not white, not cream and certainly not clotted cream.”

He also touched on all of the myths and rumours surrounding Diana’s wedding, saying, “Let me tell you, she was not sobbing the night before. I spoke to Prince Charles, I spoke to the Queen, everybody was happy.”

He added that in “all the years that I looked after her, she never broke down—somewhere along the line if you’re truly unhappy, you might show things. That’s kind of what annoys me. People write all of these stories and … I’m sorry. I blame the TV producers and directors—check your facts. I was there, so don’t give me all of this nonsense—I can’t have it.”

With regards to current fashion trends, Emanuel also touched on how Diana continues to influence style, noting that the trends inspired by her wedding dress are now coming back. “[Brides] want the fairytale crinoline skirt. It’s coming back and it’s because of Diana.”

‘Royal Style in the Making’ will run from 3 June to 2 January 2022 at Kensington Palace, and, in addition to Diana’s wedding dress, will feature a surviving toile of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Coronation Dress from 1937.

And Diana’s dress is one of many featured in Royal Central’s new book, out now on Amazon. Royal Weddings: A Collection can be bought as an ebook and a paperback.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.