LIFE

It Took 350 Women 7 Weeks To Make Queen Elizabeth’s Exquisitely Intricate Wedding Gown In 1947

by Caralynn Lippo
Caralynn is a writer, native New Yorker, TV enthusiast, and dog mom to Hobbes.

At the time Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip married in 1947, England was still in a state of economic depression following World War II. But that didn’t stop the future Queen from getting the wedding dress of her — and my, and really any woman’s — dreams.

The war ended in 1945, but the country had been ravaged by the Blitz. With most of the government’s focus going toward recovery efforts, the entire nation was rationing basic necessities like food and materials for clothing.

That also went for the royal family.

According to Town & Country, Princess Elizabeth saved her clothing coupons in order to purchase her wedding dress after Philip proposed in 1946 — with an engagement ring crafted from the diamonds in his mom’s tiara. She was granted 200 extra coupons for it, and her fans actually tried to help her out even more by giving up their own coupons and sending them to their beloved Princess through the mail.

But transferring coupons was illegal (even if you were giving them to a royal!), so the Princess had to send them all back with a note.

Despite Princess Elizabeth being a “budget bride” (of sorts), the eventual dress was magnificent. Vogue reports that the designer, couturier Norman Hartnell, was inspired by the Renaissance in his creation of the gown. He was famous for his “magnificent embroideries,” which definitely came through in the final design of the wedding dress, approved only three months before the wedding.

His goal was to design “the most beautiful dress I had so far made.”

The final product, made of Chinese silk and featuring a 15-foot train, took 350 women seven weeks to make. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Princess didn’t even try on the dress until the morning of her wedding, since tradition held that to try it on beforehand would be bad luck!

Betty Foster, one of the seamstresses who worked on the gown, spoke to the Telegraph in 2007. For the first time in 60 years, she’d finally seen the gown she’d helped make: on display at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s diamond wedding anniversary.

“I had forgotten how beautiful it was, with that exquisite train — and how small the Princess was,” Betty said. “It’s darkened a bit with age, but it still looks lovely. On my way home from the wedding celebration, I remember everyone on the train was talking about the dress, and I felt so proud to have worked on it.”

Check out the wedding gown (along with other iconic Queen Elizabeth dresses) in the video below, and don’t forget to SHARE this story on Facebook!

Thumbnail Photo: Instagram / Royal Collection Trust

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