30 years before people around the world woke up early or generally rearranged their schedules to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton in 2011, millions did the exact same thing to watch William’s parents get married at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s so-called “wedding of the century” continues to captivate fans of the British royal family, and this week one of the more iconic parts of it is back in the news.
Princess Diana’s extravagant gown quickly became the subject of worldwide attention at the wedding and is arguably one of the most famous dresses in history. The dress is set to make its way back into the family soon because thanks to a stipulation in Diana’s will, it will be bequeathed to her sons, Princes William and Harry. The princes will officially inherit their mother’s historic dress on Sept. 15, when Harry turns 30. In addition to the dress, they will receive other items from her estate such as photos, letters, jewels, and the score and lyrics to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” which the singer performed at her funeral in 1997.
The silk taffeta gown was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and includes over 10,000 sequins and pearls, plus a 25-foot train (the longest in royal wedding history, a stat that does in fact exist). It is valued at £30,099 (around $50,000), adjusting from the 1981 figure of £9000. The dress has gone on several world tours, including stops at the Spencer family estate, where Diana's brother looked after it. Much like Kate Middleton’s dress, copies of which were available within hours of the ceremony, replicas of Diana’s gown were also promptly made available in 1981 and Elizabeth Emanuel told the Sun Herald around the time of William and Kate’s wedding that she still gets requests to make reproductions.
Vogue notes on Thursday that though there hasn’t been any official word as to where the dress will wind up, there appears to be a possibility (or at least a hope) that it will go on display at Kensington Palace, the official royal residence of William, Kate, Harry, and a few other royals.
Though the bequeathment was 30 years in the making, Diana’s dress isn’t the only piece of memorabilia from her wedding to Prince Charles in the news lately. Last Thursday, a slice of cake from the ceremony, complete with its original presentation box and a note reading "With best wishes from Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince & Princess of Wales," sold at auction for a whopping $1,375 in Los Angeles. Naturally, the seller advised against trying to eat the cake, which is now 33 years old.