The Story Behind Princess Diana’s Wedding Veil That Was Embellished by a Secret Embroiderer

“At first, Miss Peggy worked on the veil at home at night, sometimes working until five in the morning before bringing it back on the Tube,” recalls Hand & Lock in-house fashion historian Robert McCaffrey. “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 Emanuels created a second dress – on hand in case details of the original were leaked – but there was only ever one resplendent veil fit for a princess.

Photo: Getty Images

David and Elizabeth, who had to employ their mothers in order to complete the painstaking needlework on Diana’s dress in time, were Miss Peggy’s only lifeline throughout the solitary process. “Despite the enormous amount of work involved she remained calm throughout,” recalls Elizabeth of the now-retired embroiderer. “We were confident she would interpret our vision perfectly and she did.” The designers only saw Diana wearing both dress and veil at the final fitting in Buckingham Palace, because there was too much froth to fit into the Emanuels’ tiny showroom. “The effect was magical and Diana looked dazzling—like a real-life fairytale princess bride,” she shares. The pictures of the radiant young woman, a nursery teacher-turned-royal shrouded in a cloud of glittering tulle on her 1981 wedding day, would go down in history as one of the most epic bridal looks of all time.