The Wedding Dress Was ‘The Elephant in the Room’
Costume Designers Amy Roberts and Sidonie Roberts knew that for the fourth season of The Crown, the main focus would be on recreating Princess Diana’s legendary wedding dress. It was originally designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel for ‘the wedding of the century’ in St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Discover why the team got the approval of the designers to do their version on their own terms – and some of the other challenges – and pleasures – for the costume design team. We spoke to Amy Roberts about some of them.
“Charles is always so smart in his suits, so it did transform this young actor quite a bit when he steps into Charles’ clothes,” says costume designer Amy Roberts. “He just completely became Charles. I think that the clothes might have helped a little bit, but I think he is just a hugely talented actor. He is fantastic to dress.”
She is wearing a 100% tweed flecked wool two-piece suit with a silk cotton bow blouse in an abstract check. She dons a soft turquoise felt pillbox style hat with bow detail in the same fabric as the blouse. The suit is complete with brown gloves, brown leather shoes, and a brown Launer bag.
The historical games have taken place in Aberdeenshire in Scotland since 1832. Queen Victoria was the first to attend it in 1844 and since then the reigning monarch has been the patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society.
“This suit is for a more formal Scottish occasion at the Braemar Games, but there is a nod to the country look,” says Amy Roberts of the costume for Queen Elizabeth. “It is slightly more elegant than what they wear for their holidays in Scotland.”
Amy Roberts and the designers had fun creating costumes for when the royals were at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where they were pretty laidback in their clothing, yet also ensuring they looked realistic when in the countryside.
“We had buckets of made-up mud and water and the actors all lined up and it was like Jackson Pollock: We were splattering them, which of course they all loved.”
“They Royals seem to have a distinct wardrobe for the houses they go to,” says Amy Roberts. “So, when they go to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, it is a whole country wardrobe. Their suits are for hunting and fishing. We don’t put them in any of these tweeds outside of their Scottish holidays. The whole tone of those costumes are very soft and countryside colors.”
Prince Charles is an immaculate dresser and here he is wearing a Scottish kilt.
“He is actually wearing the Hebridean Heather tartan kilt to replicate the Balmoral tartan pleated as only the Royal family can wear this!” says Amy Roberts. “With this. he is wearing a short tweed jacket and waistcoat and a made replica of the sporran Charles has worn.”
Princess Margaret is wearing a bouclé stretch wool two-piece suit in a pink, black, and soft grey check with a pronounced single revere collar and a two-button fastening. Accompanied by an A-line skirt and a front kick pleat and a heavy crepe de chine blouse with a soft roll neck and ‘pussy’ bow detail. She wears a mandarin style pillbox hat in the same fabric as the suit with bow detail at the side. Her suit is complete with navy blue gloves, an ‘80s purple bag, and round diamanté brooch.
“As you can see, Margaret is still very much her own person,” comments Amy Roberts.
Princess Anne is dressed in a bouclé stretch wool two-piece suit in a camel and black dogtooth check. She wears a long-line jacket with deep curved pockets and a-line skirt with two gaudé pleats. Underneath, she has a cotton silk off-white classic shirt with silk equestrian patterned scarf. Her dress is made complete with brown velour exaggerated trilby with silver buckle and chocolate brown grosgrain ribbon and a tan leather shoulder bag.
She wears a white silk dress with hand-painted yellow flowers and embossed detailing. Ruffle detail on the center front, collar, cuffs, and hem. She is suitably hatted with a fascinator hat with yellow and orange flowers and yellow netting. Complete with matching cream leather shoes and handbag.
“Anne has moved from that young, trendy girl to being more mature and a more settled version of what she was in season 3, but she is also still cool,” says Amy Roberts. “I think we see all the royal women getting ready for the wedding and they are recreations and a nod to what they wore in reality.”
“It is like the elephant in the room, that dress,” explains Amy Roberts about this challenge. “Even people who were not born then seem to have an idea of it and it was so massive and important. We all know the terrible conclusion to her story, so it is really in a lot of people’s psyche. But if you go down that road, you cannot do anything. I did not see it as our job to copy it to the nth degree.”
Amy Roberts was in touch with the designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel who created Princess Diana’s wedding dress. Mr. Emanuel even came to see her and her team.
“He brought copies of the original sketches, which he gave us,” says Amy Roberts. “I wanted him to approve the color and he chose perfectly. He gave it to us, and he was not precious about it. He said: ‘Just do it and have fun.’ That was a huge relief in a way. Occasionally we would talk, and I would send him shots of the fitting. He would say: ‘looks great’. He is a nice guy.”
The first time Emma Corrin appeared in the wedding dress surprised everyone on set. “They just all went quiet. It was a really odd and special moment. We thought: ‘Ok, we have done alright then – let’s move on to the next 100 costumes.’”
She is wearing a knife-pleated skirt with pussy-bow blouse, which has a ruffled detail on the bow and cuffs. It is accompanied by a straw hat to compliment the harebell blue color with side detail in the same fabric, straw bow, and blue flower. Complete with a three-strand of pearls, pearl earrings, white gloves, shoes, and a Launer bag.
When the queen became Colonel in Chief of the grenadier guards on her accession in 1952, this uniform was created for her. She wears this tunic and hat annually for trooping the color until 1986. The tunic matches that of the guard’s regiments but is cut away from the waist allowing her to sit side-saddle. She wears a navy-blue serge skirt worn with riding boots and spurs (Only on one boot) and she wears a fur tricorn hat with the regimental plume.
But for the Amy Roberts team, it was sometimes even more fun imagining what the royals were wearing in private.
“That is what is so exciting,” says Amy Roberts. “You are bookending real events – funerals, weddings, which are significant moments. But those moments in the middle are lovely because you use your imagination and push it a bit more.”
Mike Hodge and Maria Smith were Principal Crowd Uniform Supervisors and made sure that every extra was fitted to perfection.
She is wearing a teal green silk two-piece with black polka dots. There is a side button detail on the skirt and blouse tucked in and ruched out with buttons down the center. She wears an extra-large white silk collar with embroidered scalloping detail and billowed sleeves, complete with red leather shoes and gold watch.
“She of all of them has a clear trajectory,” says Amy Roberts. “Her journey is very clear. Peter Morgan wrote her as a little creature from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and in the final episode 10, she is the complete opposite of that. The designer Elizabeth Emanuel said that she was not really that much into fashion and as a young girl living her life with her flatmates, she did not have a huge amount of money and would wear skirts and sweaters. Then when she got to the palace, I imagine that people dressed her up a bit and it was not quite her style. She was like a doll. I don’t know how much impact she had on the outfits for Australia. I felt she was not quite herself. Then her life is getting toxic, she knows about Charles’ love for someone else and then slowly, slowly, she has found her own roots, and this happens when she goes on the New York tour alone. Sid and I went to what we remember Diana for – as the amazingly chic, stylized, and elegant woman. She put on an armor everyday and kind of manipulates situations and her look. That is much more the case in the next season.”