How Diana’s £9,000 ‘meringue’ wedding dress (including its 25ft train) cost less

How Diana’s £9,000 ‘meringue’ wedding dress (including its 25ft train) cost less than a tenth of Meghan’s couture gown… but Miss Markle has got nothing on Kate’s £250,000 frock

Meghan will wear the stunning Ralph & Russo gown as her first dress May 19
The bride-to-be’s hugely anticipated dress will set Royal Family back £100,000
Kate Middleton’s gown cost £250,000, making it fifth most expensive dress ever
Diana’s £9,000 frock known as ‘most closely guarded secret in fashion history’
The Queen was given 200 extra clothing coupons towards her wedding dress

Meghan Markle is set to marry Prince Harry in a matter of days – and her widely anticipated wedding dress has finally been revealed.

The former Suits actress will walk down the aisle on May 19, – with an estimated billion TV viewers worldwide watching – as she weds Prince William’s brother.

And much like previous royal weddings, such as future sister-in-law Kate Middleton. Harry’s mother Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth II all eyes will be on the gown.

Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding
Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding

Kate Middleton

Kate famously wore a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen lace dress when she married Prince William in 2011 and became the Duchess Of Cambridge.

Harry and William’s mother Princess Diana wore a huge puffy gown designed by the Emanuel’s when she married Prince Charles in 1981.

However multiple royal and fashion industry sources have revealed that Meghan has selected British couturiers Ralph & Russo to make the first of two gowns she plans to wear on her big day.

She will wear the hand-stitched, heavily beaded design to walk down the aisle at St George’s Chapel in front of 600 guests, and the reception being held afterwards by the Queen in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle.

Royal wedding exclusive Kate Middleton and Prince William had an eight tiered fruit cake in 2011 Photo (C) GETTY
Royal wedding exclusive Kate Middleton and Prince William had an eight tiered fruit cake in 2011 Photo (C) GETTY

Another source revealed that the dress would cost around £100,000, which will be met by Prince Harry and his family privately.

‘It sounds a lot but this is the wedding of the year and hundreds of hours of manpower have gone into making it, almost all by hand,’ they said.

However she has strong competition from future sister-in-law Kate Middleton and Harry’s late mother Princess Diana.

When Kate married Harry’s brother Prince William back in April 2011, the wedding dress cost a phenomenal £250,000, making it the fifth most expensive dress of all time.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s stunning gown was hailed a perfect tribute to Alexander McQueen.

Kate Middleton Wedding
Kate Middleton Wedding

The design, by the late designer’s protegee and successor Sarah Burton, also paid homage to another princess bride.

The intricate lace appliqué bodice and sleeves of Catherine’s dress mirrored those on the wedding gown of Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Ranier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956.

Both gowns shared a high-waisted, full-skirted silhouette with a long, dramatic train, and were worn with the sheerest of veils and diamond tiaras.

However Kate’s vintage headwear was from an era that preceded Princess Grace’s marriage – the 1936 diamond ‘Halo’ tiara by Cartier was her ‘something borrowed’, on loan from the Queen.

The comparison reveals how very classic Kate’s style is, and how timeless Princess Grace’s bridal look was.

Royal wedding dresses through the years Queen Elizabeth II to Kate Middleton Photo (C) GETTY
Royal wedding dresses through the years Queen Elizabeth II to Kate Middleton Photo (C) GETTY

Princess Diana

Meanwhile Lady Diana Spencer’s dress was known as at the time as the ‘most closely guarded secret in fashion history.’

The meringue style gown, which was worth £9,000 in 1981 is approximately equivalent to £36,800 today.

Details of the future princess’s dress managed to be kept a complete mystery until hours before her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales, at St Paul’s Cathedral.

And the grand unveiling of the gown, which back in 1981 cost £9,000, did not disappoint.

Designed by husband-and-wife duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the intricate ivory taffeta gown later saw copycat creations made around the world.

Princess Diana with Prince Charles on their wedding day Photo (C) GETTY
Princess Diana with Prince Charles on their wedding day Photo (C) GETTY

However with the elaborate embroidery, 10,000 pearls and a 25-foot-long train, it is difficult to even come close to replicating her beautiful bridal look.

For designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel, in their late 20s and not long out of fashion school, it was a career-defining moment.

Months earlier, in March 1981, Buckingham Palace had announced, to widespread surprise, that the Emanuels had been asked to design the dress Lady Diana Spencer would wear to marry Prince Charles.

It was the commission of a lifetime to make the dress of the century.

Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding dress has been hailed as ‘fresh and timeless’ 70 years on from when she walked up the aisle on November 20, 1947.

The Sir Norman Hartnell gown with its fitted bodice and intricate embroidery was perfect for the young 21-year-old princess to marry Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

Kate Middleton's Wedding Compared To Princess Diana's Is So, So Similar Photo (C) GETTY
Kate Middleton’s Wedding Compared To Princess Diana’s Is So, So Similar Photo (C) GETTY

The Duchesse ivory silk-satin creation took royal couturier Sir Norman and his team three months to finish.

With a heart-shaped neckline with scalloped edge, the gown was decorated with 10,000 seed pearls, glittering crystals and featured an intricate 13ft star-patterned train.

Embroidered with roses, star-shaped flowers and wheat in pearl, crystal and appliques of transparent tulle, its floral design was seen as a symbol of growth and regeneration after the hardships of the Second World War.

On the day of the wedding at Westminster Cathedral, the seamstresses who worked tirelessly on the gown were given a prime spot outside Buckingham Palace as a reward.

The Queen, like all British brides in the post-war days, was given 200 extra clothing coupons from the Government towards her wedding trousseau.

Women across the UK, keen to ensure Princess Elizabeth would have the dress of her dreams, sent their own coupons to the young royal to help out.

But it was illegal to give coupons away and the gifts had to be returned.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their wedding day. Photo (C) GETTY
Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their wedding day. Photo (C) GETTY

However, The Crown gave a good idea of how much the dress might cost to make today as designers for the BBC programme created an identical gown for the wedding scene, which cost £30,000.

Harry, sources say, has been kept in the dark about his fiancee Meghan’s dress – he doesn’t even know who is designing it – because he wants it to be a ‘complete surprise’ on the day.

‘He is so excited about the wedding and is being remarkably traditional about everything,’ the source said.

Ralph & Russo have been odds-on favourite for the commission since Meghan wore a £56,000 semi-sheer black evening dress from the label for her official engagement portrait.


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