The story behind Princess Diana’s wedding veil

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  • We know a lot about Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress (and for those who fancy another peek, it’s going on display at an exhibition at Kensington Palace soon), but not so much about Princess Diana’s wedding veil.

    In fact, it was shrouded in secrecy until the big day, with only one person being let in on the secret, other than designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel of course.

    It was created by the embroiderers at S. Lock (now Hand & Lock) and took over two weeks to make.

    Hand & Lock in-house fashion historian Robert McCaffrey, said, ‘the truth of the project was only known by one embroiderer, Peggy Umpleby. At first she worked on the veil at home at night sometimes working until five in the morning before bringing it back on the tube.’

    ‘Progress was slow and to make the deadline she told fellow embroiderers she was going on holiday, but in truth, she sat at her kitchen table embroidering for two solid weeks. The veil was completed, sent to the Emanuels, and she returned to work, only to have her colleagues remark on how pale she was despite her two week holiday.’

    The design was of course kept top secret, and anyone asking about it would be told it was for a Middle Eastern Princess.

    A particularly large frame was specially constructed to accommodate the 139 metres of delicate tulle veiling, and Peggy hand-embroidered it with 10,000 tiny mother-of-pearl sequins.

    There was no specific design pattern, the brief was simply to sew in clusters of crystals onto the veil which would glimmer in the light.

    As we all know, Princess Diana’s wedding veil added much drama to to her gown, matching the length of her epic trail.

    She entered St Paul’s Cathedral with the veil covering her face, and left it as a new bride, with her face uncovered, as per tradition.

    It was held in place by her beloved Spencer tiara, a family heirloom.

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