Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress

We all have our opinions on Diana’s gown and while it may not have stood the test of time style-wise it deserves a place in history as an iconic royal wedding dress, am I right?

Diana's first true royal wave (via Stylite)

A couple of Christmases ago, I unwrapped the delightful book A Dress for Diana by David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel, the young and  fresh-out-of-school designers chosen to create Diana’s wedding dress. It’s a fun read with page after page of gorgeous photos and some interesting little known facts as well. So let’s take  strip doing memory line, starting at the beginning.

Diana wasn’t the first royal that the Emanuels dressed. Princess Michael of Kent was an early client, and she brought in some other royal ladies as well, though the Emanuels don’t specify who.

Diana was first introduced to the Emanuels through a photo shoot that she did with British Vogue. Without revealing who the clothes were for, the magazine asked the Emanuels to send in some pieces that might be suitable. Much to their delight, Diana fell in love with this soft pink chiffon one and wanted to learn more about the designers. Voila, the road was set…


Lady Diana Spencer for Vogue (via National Portrait Gallery)
Lady Diana Spencer for Vogue (via National Portrait Gallery)

By the way, the photographer for the  Vogue shoot was Princess Margaret’s photographer husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones and  according to the Emmanuels it was done BEFORE the engagement was announced!  Amazing that that didn’t get out in the press. So let’s figure this out: Charles proposed on the evening of February 6th after which Diana left the country, so when did she fit in this Vogue shoot and how did it not leak out into the press? Something does not measure up. Anyone have any thoughts?

Andrew Morton’s book Diana in Her Own Words explains that took off on a pre-arranged trip to Australia  sometime around February 8th, 1981.   She went with her mom and step dad went to their sheep station in Yass in New South Wales and later to a friend’s beach house for ten days of peace and seclusion.  The book also has this quote from Diana:

I then went away two days later to Australia for three weeks to sort of settle down and to organize lists and things with my mother. That was a complete disaster because I pined for him but he never rang me up. I thought that was very strange and whenever I rang him he was out and he never rang me back. I thought ‘Ok’. I was just being generous – ‘He is being very busy, this, that and the other.” I come back from Australia, someone knocks on my door. Someone from his office with a bunch of flowers and I knew they hadn’t come from Charles because there was no note. It was just someone being very tactful in the office.

The book also says that there was a solitary phone call after she called him, which Charles alludes to in this video from when the engagement was announced on February 24th. Man, Diana must have been jet lagged, right?!

Anyway, that pink blouse from the Vogue shoot led to this black dress, which Diana wore with great fanfare to her first official engagement with Charles.  Diana returned the dress after she started shedding a lot of weight, and the alterations were so extensive that the Emanuels just made her a new dress and kept the old one.  Incidentally, that dress sold at auction in 2010 for $276,000.

Diana's first royal 'do (via styleite)
Diana’s first royal ‘do (via styleist)

The earrings Diana wore that night were her mom’s and she also borrowed them on her wedding day. Diana’s sister Lady Sarah seems to own them now, and she wore them to her daughter’s wedding in the summer of 2012. It was quite thrilling to see them out and about again – more about that in our post here.

So that dress led to Vogue asking the Emanuels to be one of 6 designers asked to submit designs for an article on how they would design Diana’s wedding dress if given the commission. This is what they submitted:

The Emanuel's 1981 submission for Vogue (vis Diana Remembered)
The Emanuel’s 1981 submission for Vogue (via Diana Remembered)


Not far off from what they actually designed, right?! It’s shockingly similar!

So Diana liked it and rang up the Emanuels to ask them to do the honours, and then Buckingham Palace called on March 10, 1981 to say they were being revealed as the designers in a press release being sent out that day. After that, the Emanuels did everything they could to keep the design a secret- they had a safe installed, and threw random bits of fabric into the rubbage bin outside to trick the press- even though the actual design was pretty much right there in Vogue!

David and Elizabeth going over designs with Diana in Kensington Palace (via reality tv)
David and Elizabeth going over designs with Diana in Kensington Palace (via reality tv)

As the work was underway, David and Elizabeth were delighted that they and three of their employees were invited to the wedding as guests. One of them was Rose Hoey, and her memory of a visit to Buckinham Palace for a fitting is just the best:

“Diana…she was such a wonderful lady – so down to earth. I remember once at Buckingham Palace saying to her that it was amazing to think I was on the inside, having stood outside as a tourist so many times. She laughed and said we should go out on the balcony and wave at all the people outside – and we did!”

OMG, OMG. Did any of the tourists outside that day get a picture of that and was it somehow captured in the press and escaped my notice all these years?? Here’s to hoping – that picture would be priceless!

a view of Diana and Charles on the Buckingham Palace balcony (via Pinterest)
A rarely scene image of Diana and Charles on the Buckingham Palace balcony (via Pinterest)

The bridesmaids of course had lots of fittings as well, and on one occasion wore roller skates during the proceedings. Sadly, there’s no picture of that.

Love this (via Daily Mail)
Love this (via Daily Mail)


The Emanuels thought of a lot of other details as well. They went to St. Paul’s and lined up with tourists so that they could measure the length of the aisle to make sure they didn’t make the train too wide (yes, they were recognized). They also coordinated the design of the shoes, worked with the florists to make sure that Diana’s bouquet wouldn’t look puny with the big dress, and even created a matching water-proof parasol in case of rain.

Diana's Dress (via Daily Mail)
Diana’s Dress (via Daily Mail)

They got the dress safely to Clarence House for the wedding day, and helped Diana get dressed. Evidently she was quite relaxed and was happily singing along to the “Just One Cornetto” jingle that had been playing on the TV as she watched wedding coverage.

Then it was off to St. Paul’s. his video has the dramatic moment when Diana arrived at St. Paul’s t the 2:38 mark… the enormous train kept coming out of the carriage and – eek!- it was all creased.

The book covers a lot more, and we recommend it for any Diana fans. What do you think of this dress – love it, hate it, or appreciate it for all of it’s cream puff glory?

We know that Mariah Carey loved it – she copied it for her 1993 wedding!



The 10 Year Anniversary of a Documentary on Princess Mary of Denmark

A little over a year ago I came across a documentary entitled “Mary Elizabeth Donaldson”  that was made after her engagement to Prince Frederik.

Mary & Frederick Greet the Crowds May 14, 2004 (via Order of Splendour)
Mary & Frederick Greet the Crowds May 14, 2004 (via Order of Splendour)

The documentary was produced with the full cooperation of Mary and the royal family(!), and aired exclusively on Danmarks Radio on exactly ten years ago today on May 10, 2004. This was just three days before their wedding on May 14. If you haven’t already seen it and are AT ALL interested in the Danish royals, I highly recommend it. You can watch the documentary below and yes, it’s an hour. Plan to really tuck in and watch while folding laundry, wrapping birthday presents or something. Just do it!

There are three main reasons why I find this documentary so interesting to dissect.

#1: The Documentary was done with the royal family’s full co-operation

The fact that this documentary was royally sanctioned is fascinating in itself. I suppose the royal family and their advisors felt it was important to really introduce Mary formally to the Danes, and to give them a chance to get to know her.  Consequently the documentary is very “behind the scenes” and shows the couple arriving at the airport to travel to Australia for visit the Donaldson family and even on the plane. Later we see them walking on the beach

Mary & Frederick stroll on the beach in the documentary (via MaryFromTheStart.Blogspot)
Mary & Frederick stroll on the beach in the documentary (via MaryFromTheStart.Blogspot)

and Mary introduces her relatives during their visit at a winery and tells us all about them (they all seem very warm and lovely).

Mary and her Dad during filming (via Mary From the Start)
Mary and her Dad during filming (via Mary From the Start)

She also takes us around to where she used to work and we hear from her boss about what she was like as an employee (“she wanted to move ahead quicker than I thought she should…but if that’s a weakness then I think that’s acceptable”). We also hear talk about how she met the prince during the Sydney Olympics and Mary’s sister talks about how excited they all were when Mary and Frederick got engaged. She says that her children were especially jazzed to be able to tell people “my auntie is going to be a princess.”

I mean, it’s GOLD. Can you image if there had been an officially sanctioned Kate documentary before her wedding to William? Unheard of!

#2 Insight into Mary’s Incredible Transformation

Mary’s measured manner of speaking, careful annunciation, and lack of a full on Australian accent is fascinating (her dad even comments on it at one point). Her transformation began around the time she first met Frederik. She was 28, and must have figured that she need to polish up if she was going to go the distance and get that tiara! Most tellingly, Mary signed up to take an eight-week course called Starmakers that gave lessons on comportment, how to pose for pictures, and public speaking.

This picture was taking during that course:

Mary at Starmakers practicing a pose (via Ksiezna Mary)
Mary at Starmakers practicing a pose (via Ksiezna Mary)

This news broadcast has actual footage of Mary in the course practicing walking with her fellow classmates. Seriously!!! That part starts at 1:20 if you’d like to skip ahead.

In a nutshell she went from being pretty and girl next door:

Mary in her younger days
Mary in her younger days

To this. TA DA!


The Royal Order of Sartorial blog has a more thorough account of Mary’s transformation. Check it out here.

#3 More Insight into Official Princess Training

The Starmakers things is one part, but this documentary also gives more insight into the work that Mary did to prepare to  be Crown Princess. Perhaps most importantly, she had to learn to speak Danish and we see her in the midst of one of her lessons in what I assume is her apartment.

Mary and her Danish book (Via Dr.Dk)
Mary and her Danish book (Via Dr.Dk)

She seems very smart and hardworking, and unlike Princess Charlene of Monaco who is still struggling with her French, she picked up Danish pretty quickly. She tells the camera that she had two teachers that work with her, and that they also had her reading historical books and books about the royal family as a way to help learn the language.

She also talks about what an out of body experience it was to walk out onto the balcony to see a sea of Danish people waving Danish and Australian flags after the engagement was announced, and how she wants to work towards being a worthy representative of Denmark.

I think that she has done a good job in the last ten years, and I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to say the same about Kate…

Mary does get a hard time from lots of royal blogs out there, but she seems very warm and relatable, don’t you think?


If you’re in the mood for more makeover talk, here’s a look at how Kate started preparing her royal wardrobe and here are a few more fun posts on Mary:

A look at some official portraits of Princess Mary

Princess Mary’s engagement ring and pre-wedding interview, which is full of bon mots

Mary all dolled up for the New Year’s Banquet

Mary’s oldest son Prince Christian is a real cutie…and the future King



Royal Ladies in their Thrones (or sometimes just fancy chairs)

A short but sweet post today featuring a favourite Princesss pose.

Princess Diana sat for several official portraits in various chairs.

This was her first official portrait, and it now hangs at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

via The National Portrait Gallery
via The National Portrait Gallery

The photo below was taken on May 1, 1990 when she sat for a portrait by Israel Zoher.

Behind the Scenes (Via Diana's Jewel's)
Behind the Scenes (Via Diana’s Jewel’s)

This is the final result.

via Diana's Jewels
via Diana’s Jewels

She showed off her perfect posture in this one.

via AngelFire
via AngelFire

Princess Alexandra of Denmark kept things casual even though she was dressed to the nines in a palace.

via Tumblr
via Tumblr

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark struck a pose in a pretty out there throne….in the garden.

WInd swept (via )
WInd swept (via Vogue)

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden didn’t want anyone to forget that she’s a Princess, capital P!

Via Tumblr
Via Tumblr

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway kept things classy.

via The Royal House of Norway

Princess Martha Louise of Norway has  a friendly flair.

via the Royal Court of Norway
via the Royal Court of Norway

Pssst…Princess Martha Louise is a founder of Astarte Inspiration – it’s an interesting read if you’re in the mood.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway posed in this chair in 2010 when Ingrid to mark her sixth birthday.

via the Royal Court of Norway
via the Royal Court of Norway


Princess Amalia of the Netherland’s pink throne is so much cuter.

well, hello to you! (Via Royal Family of the Netherland's Official Page)
well, hello to you! (Via Royal Family of the Netherland’s Official Page)

Any favourites? I’m going with Princess Amalia.

Royal April Birthdays

Whoops, it’s May 1st and we had this post sitting in the drafts folder…and promptly forgot about it. But no matter, without further ado, here are the birthdays of three Kings, two Queens, a Grand Duke, and two young princesses.

April 10, 2007: Princess Ariane of the Netherlands

Ariane is the youngest daughter of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, so she is currently third in line to succession after her two older sisters Amalia (the future Queen of the Netherlands) and Alexia.

Here she is arriving for her baptism on October 20, 2007. Her gown is gorgeous but OMG those matching purple capes!

(via People)
(via People)

Her official page  lists a range of interests including piano, ballet and judo.

April 15 1960: King Philippe of Belgium

King Philippe is a bit of a snooze to me (his wife Queen Mathilde is SO much more interesting) but it seems unfair not to include him. Here he is with his family (daughters Elisabeth and Eleonore and sons Gabriel and Emmanuel) after he was made King in July 2013.

via The Royal Correspondant
via The Royal Correspondant

and pssst…they totally took some inspiration from the adorable matching princesses of the Netherlands during their dad’s coronation, right?

Hello, World! (via Hello!)
Hello, World! (via Hello!)

April 16, 1955: Henri Grand Duke of Luxembourg

Next up is King Philippe’s first cousin, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (his mom Princess Josephine of Belgium was the sister of King Albert the I, Philippe’s dad). Funny that they are five years and a day apart.

The Grand Duke & Duchess at their son's wedding (via Zimbio)
The Grand Duke & Duchess at their son’s wedding (via Zimbio)

Henri’s wife Grand Duchess Maria Theresa is also much, much more interesting to me but there was quite a scandal last summer when the Luxembourg government resigned so perhaps they aren’t as dull as I’d thought. More here.

April 16, 1940: Queen Margrethe of Denmark 

Next up is Queen Margrethe, aka Daisy! You just gotta love her quirky sense of style and how she is not afraid of colour, especially bright shades of green.

Fresh as a daisy (Via Bilder Bilder)
Fresh as a daisy (Via Bilder Bilder)

And fuschia, too.

At Prince Frederik and Mary's wedding in 2004 (via Meusa)
At Prince Frederick and Mary’s wedding in 2004 (via Meusa)

Here she is with our next birthday girl at Windsor Castle in May 2012.

I spy 4 Queens (via The Telegraph)
I spy five Queens (via The Telegraph)

April 21, 1926: Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth was born at the home of her maternal grandparents the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London (their other home was Glamis Castle). Sadly, the house was demolished. You can check out the Google Street View for 17 Bruton Street by clicking here and it’s clearly NOT a beautiful home. Sigh.

Anyhow, when she was born she was known as Princess Elizabeth of York and there was no expectation that she would one day be queen. How cute is this photo?

Now there's a pram (via Entpulse)
Now there’s a pram (via Entpulse)

This one at Balmoral Castle takes the cake, though. I think we need a picture of the Queen, Prince George, and Kate right there. Please make that happen this summer.

With her mum and Granny at Balmoral (via Entplulse)
With her mum and Granny at Balmoral (via Entplulse)

April 21, 2007: Princess Isabella of Denmark

Princess Isabella is the second child of Prince Frederick and Princess Mary which makes her third in line to the throne (after her dad and brother). Her official page can be found here.

Isabella’s birth was celebrated with a 21-gun salute. She was christened on July 1, 2007  and in keeping with tradition, her name was not revealed until that day. There was a bit of controversy around it because Isabella isn’t a common name in the Danish family, and of course there’s the whole Twilight of it all. Anyway, they did jam in a bunch of traditional middle names – Isabella’s full name is Isabella Henrietta Ingrid Margrethe.  Oh, and one of her godmothers is Queen Mathilde of Belgium – not too shabby!.

Princess Isabella on her christening day (via
Princess Isabella on her christening day (via

Big brother Prince Christian watched the proceedings from his own little chair.

Prince Christian at 20 months old at his sister's christening (via AussieBubbleBlog)
Prince Christian at 20 months old at his sister’s christening (via AussieBubBlog)

Side Note: Princess Estelle did the same at her aunt Princess Madeleine’s wedding.

Where's your throne? (via Hello!)
Where’s your throne? (via Hello!)

This photo shows both sets of grandparents. Mary’s dad John Donaldson (a math professor) is standing behind her with her step mom Susan (a writer). You can’t miss Queen Margrethe standing next to Prince Henrik in her floral frock and matching hat. More details on the Danish christening gowns can be found here.

Family Christening Photo
Family Christening Photo

This photo was released to mark her 6th birthday. Check out the silver shoes!

(Via Kongehuset)
(Via Kongehuset)

April 27, 1967: King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands

Willem-Alexander is another royal made infinitely more interesting thanks to his wife – in this case, the amazing Queen Maxima. When she married him, he went up in everyone’s estimation.

Willem-Alexander gets upstaged by Maxima because of course (via Zimbio)
Willem-Alexander gets upstaged by Maxima because of course (via Zimbio)

Searching for some fun fact about him, I discovered that he is a trained pilot and to keep up his hours he flies a KLM plane or the royal family’s plane. Love that (plus it sounds like Prince William may be doing the same). Another fun fact: now that he has become king, he is the youngest monarch in Europe.  He and Maxima are the best – rain or shine they show up to support and smile the whole time Check out some more amazing shots showing their enthusiasm at different Olympic Games over the years here and here.

Rain or Shine! (via
Rain or Shine! (via Zimbio)


April 30, 1946: King XVI Carl Gustaf of Sweden

Rounding out April’s royal birthday’s we have yet another royal man who’s wife just seems so much more interesting. He became king on September 15, 1973 at the age of 27 and married Silvia Sommerlath (who he met at the 1972 Olympics) in June 1976.

The Wedding Day (via )
The Wedding Day (via

The night before the wedding, ABBA performed Dancing Queen for the first time(!) for the couple, in tribute to the future Queen. In more recent years, he weathered the publication of a book that alleged a myriad of things (click here for the details).  Despite all that, they keep trucking along.

The Swedish Royal Family (via )
The Swedish Royal Family (via Zimbio)

Happy belated birthday to them all.