May 20, 2018 12:14 PM

Meghan Markle glided into St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, ahead of her nuptials to Prince Harry, in a shining white wedding dress — and everyone involved in making the gown made every effort to ensure the color stayed that way.

“The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every 30 minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine,” Kensington Palace explained in a statement after Meghan’s dress reveal.

Dress designer Clare Waight Keller, the artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy, told reporters that the hand-washing was a necessity given the materials involved.

“Over a period of time, you build up oils on your hand and when you work on something of such purity — absolute pure white — you need to keep it immaculately clean,” she said.

“So this was part of the process when you are doing embroidery that you need to keep your hands very fresh,” Waight Keller continued. “There were many people involved in the workmanship, and obviously it took an enormous amount of hours to do it.”

Meghan Markle at her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday at Windsor Castle

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Despite the long labor, Meghan’s wedding dress remained a complete surprise to all but a select few until the moment she stepped from her car to head into the chapel on Saturday.

“It was a private thing between the two of us,” Waight Keller said of working with Meghan, 36, on the dress, whose silhouette included a boat neckline and the modern touch of three-quarter sleeves, all beneath a 16-foot veil.

“It was all about keeping the secret,” the designer said.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after their Saturday wedding
Sipa via AP Images

From the start, Waight Keller said, Meghan “wanted something that was so elegant and classical and timeless, in a way.”

And the creative process really took no time at all.

“I had about seven or eight meetings with her, actually,” Waight Keller said. “From the very start, we had a few variations on the design but then very quickly it involved holding to the final creation that you saw.”

“There were a few adjustments in the later fittings,” she continued, “but by the time we got to the third stage we were quite close to knowing what we needed to do.”

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