Princess Diana wed Prince Charles on July 29, 1981 in the famed wedding gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel

By Simon Perry
Updated April 26, 2021 11:53 AM
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Diana On Wedding Day
Princess Diana on her wedding day
| Credit: Lichfield/Getty

Royal fashion fans have a treat in store!

This summer, Princess Diana's iconic wedding dress will be displayed at the palace she once called home, Historic Royal Palaces curators announced on Monday.

Prince William and Prince Harry have permitted the dress to be unveiled for royal fans as the centerpiece for a new exhibit at Kensington Palace.

The famous gown, designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, and its 25-foot train —  which unfurled on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral behind the then Lady Diana Spencer at her wedding to Prince Charles on July 29, 1981 — will be part of the temporary exhibition, Royal Style in the Making, set in the historic Orangery beginning on June 3.

Wedding gown of Diana, Princess of Wales
Detail of Princess Diana's Wedding Dress
| Credit: Royal Collection Trust

The exhibition will explore the unique relationship between fashion designers and royal clients, the organization said, and will include other historic style pieces such as a rare surviving toile for the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth's mother, the Queen Mother.

Matthew Storey, exhibition curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said in a statement, "Our summer exhibition at Kensington Palace will shine a spotlight on some of the greatest talents of British design, whose work has been instrumental in shaping the visual identity of the royal family across the twentieth century."

The statement continued: "We'll be exploring how the partnership between each designer and client worked, and revealing the process behind the creation of a number of the most important couture commissions in royal history. While one of the highlights will undoubtedly be Diana, Princess of Wales's show-stopping Emanuel designed wedding dress, which goes on show at the palace for the first time in 25 years – we've got some real surprises up our sleeve for fashion fans!"

The wedding dress display will kick off a period of celebrations at the palace in honor of the late princess. In July, William, 38, and Harry, 36, will unveil the much-anticipated statue of their mother on the palace grounds. Diana — who died in 1997 following a car accident in Paris — would have turned 60 on July 1.

Wedding gown of Diana, Princess of Wales
Detail of Princess Diana's wedding gown
| Credit: Royal Collection Trust

Diana's wedding gown elegantly featured a scoop neckline with an embellished collar and voluminous puff sleeves. The dress, which was embroidered with lace appliques and bows, became iconic for its spectacular sequin encrusted train, which filled the cathedral aisle on her wedding day.

The train remains the longest in royal history and features a fitted bodice with both front and back panels of antique Carrickmacross lace that had originally belonged to Queen Mary, Charles's great-grandmother.

Elizabeth tells PEOPLE she can't wait to see it again. "It will be like seeing an old friend after all these years," she says. "I was looking at the images again today and I can't believe how many sequins we sewed onto the dress. This is going to be a wonderful exhibition."

The designer adds that the last time she saw the gown was when it was displayed at Diana's ancestral home, Althorp, in an exhibition that opened in July 1998 – almost a year after the royal's death. The past display honored Diana under different circumstances, commemorating a beloved life that was cut short.  

As museums and places of interest in London open up following pandemic restrictions, Historic Royal Palaces have started taking online bookings to view the dress and other items.