It was small, something no one could see unless they knew where to look for it. But to Princess Diana, it was a special nod to the love that she and Charles shared.
It was perhaps one of the most famous weddings in history. One that would have the world see their favorite princess marry her prince charming. From the dress to the decorations to the flowers to the woman herself, fans of the royal family waited with anticipation as they watched 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer exchange vows with Prince Charles. It truly was a special moment but there was one thing that made it even more so, and no one knew about it at the time or even noticed. And for the most part, it was hidden under Princess Diana's gorgeous white, wedding dress — in her shoes to be specific.
It's become quite well-known that during the wedding preparations, Princess Diana managed to keep her wedding dress a secret from the media by buying two different materials to keep them confused. But Princess Diana had one more trick up her sleeve.
Not long after the wedding was announced, one of the pair of designers that designed the royal's wedding dress, Elizabeth Emanuel, got in touch with a designer well known for his handmade shoes and handbags, Clive Shilton. He was told that he was to meet a "special client" for a private meeting. When he got there, he found Lady Diana atop a stool waiting for her feet to be measured.
"She was a very shy, sweet, smiley-eyed young girl," Clive Shilton recalled, according to Met Daan, an online beauty magazine. "Her main concern was that she wouldn’t appear taller than Prince Charles, and because she was very tall — 5ft 10in — the shoes would have to have a low heel."
Using 542 sequins and 132 pearls in the design, the shoes took six months to finish. And that too with everyone in the shoe designer's workshop putting in their best effort to make the pair of perfect shoes that would complement the grand wedding dress. Yet, that was not the most special part of the piece. It was the secret message painted on the arches of the heels which were a sweet tribute to Prince Charles and the journey they were about to undertake together.
The design was the letters "C" and "D" with a heart in the middle engraved on the suede soles. "No one even saw the bottom of the shoes, but it was important to us that they looked fantastic," said Clive Shilton. "You would have seen much more of them if she’d tripped!" However, the designer took care to use soft suede to keep her from doing exactly that.
Then, on July 29, 1981, the big day arrived with people coming out in hordes to watch the beloved princess step out of her carriage. According to the Daily Mail, Elizabeth Emanuel remembered the picturesque moment and said, "When she came out of that carriage, it was the most wonderful vision I’d ever seen. She looked like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, unfurling her wings and about to fly. It was so romantic. Oddly, the imperfections seemed to make her even more beautiful."
And this coming from a woman who had seen the People's Princess change from a shy, 19-year-old whose occupation was that of a school teacher to a bold woman who would later be remembered as the most iconic princesses of all time. "It’s always been about a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, and that is her story, she was emerging into a new world and turning into a beautiful princess," she said, as quoted by Express. "Only when she came into our studio, we realized how young she was... She went from 26-27 inch, to a 23-inch waist. Her face had slimmed down - she looked like a model. She walked more confidently. She was just suddenly growing up, turning into woman."
With that in mind, Elizabeth, along with her husband, David Emanuel, while designing the "dress of the century" according to Reader's Digest, had added their own special message for the woman they had seen metamorphose. In the label of the dress, they included an 18-carat Welsh gold and white diamond studded horseshoe, reported Town and Country Mag. Much like the message on the soles, this too couldn't be seen but they just wanted to share their love with her. "Nobody could see our private gift when the dress was being worn," said Elizabeth Emanuel. "It was just there as a little token, a second good luck charm, from us to Diana."
Well, it didn't seem like she needed that luck because she happened to make a name of her own and capture the hearts of the people around the world. And though she's gone, she still lives on in our hearts.