Princess Diana Had a Secret Second Wedding Dress That's Been Missing for Years

Princess Diana's wedding dress designers made a secret, second version of her wedding dress as a backup but it's been missing for years.

  • Even by royal wedding standards, Princess Diana's wedding gown is iconic.
  • The dress was designed for her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles by Elizabeth and David Emanuel and the designers took great pains to keep the gown's design a secret.
  • In interviews over the years, Elizabeth Emanuel has revealed that she and David actually designed a secret second wedding dress as a backup in case the first design leaked, but that the second dress went missing years ago.

Princess Diana's wedding dress is obviously iconic, even now, almost 40 years after her lavish royal wedding to Prince Charles.

Back in 1981, Diana's wedding gown designers, Elizabeth and David Emanuel, knew how coveted an advance look at the dress would be and, according to a report from The Mirror, the pair went to great lengths to keep the design completely under wraps until the big day, including destroying their sketches of the dress immediately after showing them to Diana.

"At the time we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise," Elizabeth told People in 2011 of the secret dress. "Had the secret of the real dress got out it’s possible that Diana would actually have worn this one."

But the Emanuels' dedication to giving Diana a big reveal didn't stop there. They actually worked on a second, secret wedding dress to have as a backup, just in case their design for the first dress got out before the royal wedding. The dress was such a secret, in fact, that even the royal family didn't know about.

the prince and princess of wales leave st paul's cathedral after their wedding, 29th july 1981 she wears a wedding dress by david and elizabeth emmanuel and the spencer family tiara photo by jayne fincherprincess diana archivegetty images

(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive)

"At the time we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise," Elizabeth added in the People interview. "We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it. We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really."

Don't get your hopes up about actually seeing the secret second dress though. According to The Mirror, Elizabeth revealed during another interview, with the Daily Mail, that she and David never finished the second dress—and that it's since gone missing. 

"We simply didn’t have time to make it in its entirety, so none of the embroidery or finishing touches were done," she explained. "I don’t know if we sold it or put it into storage. It was such a busy time. I’m sure it’ll turn up in a bag one day!"

Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.