The Queen’s wedding dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, who had submitted designs for the dress in August 1947.
He enjoyed working with soft, floating fabrics, particularly tulle and chiffon, and with plain, lustrous silks. The dress was made of soft white satin, with a high neckline, tailored bodice and a short train.
Elizabeth famously saved up her ration cards to purchase the material needed for her wedding gown. The fabric for the dress was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle
The gown was decorated with more than 10,000 white pearls imported from America, silver thread and tulle embroidery. It also included a 15-foot patterned full court train attached at the shoulders and ivory duchess sating high heels, also embellished with silver and pearls
The Queen’s bridal veil was made of tulle and held by a tiara of diamonds. This tiara was made for Queen Mary in 1919. It was made from re-used diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria from Collingwood and Co and a wedding present for Queen Mary in 1893
The bride’s wedding bouquet had white orchids with a sprig of myrtle from the bush grown from the original myrtle in Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet.
At her wedding, the Queen had eight bridesmaids – HRH The Princess Margaret, HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, Lady Elizabeth Lambart, The Hon. Pamela Mountbatten, The Hon. Margaret Elphinstone, The Hon. Diana Bowes-Lyon and two pages – HRH Prince William of Gloucester and HRH Prince Michael of Kent, both aged just five.
The bridesmaids wore wreaths in their hair of miniature white sheaves, Lilies and London Pride, modelled in white satin and silver lame. The dress, without straps and with long sleeves, provided a “fit and flare silhouette”
The final design of the dress was kept secret, although much speculation surrounded it. It was said the princess feared that if details were published fashion house copies would make it impossible for her to make last-minute design alterations. The dress was taken to the palace a day before the wedding in a 4 feet (1.2 m) box. On the wedding day, the dress glittered, bejewelled with pearls “skilfully combined with flowing lines of wheat ears, the symbol of fertility, and worked in pearl and diamante.”
Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress has drawn parallels with both the similarly designed dress worn by Grace Kelly in 1956 and the “Westminster décor” wedding dress that Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen designed for Catherine Middleton; particular points of similarity have been highlighted in the pleats and silhouette of the skirt.