Roll up, roll up for the Kate clothes show (Pippa not included). Half a million expected to file past wedding dress at Buckingham Palace
Last updated at 11:40 AM on 22nd July 2011
Amid the pomp and splendour of a truly unforgettable day, The Dress was undoubtedly the star of the show.
And just like the most gracious stars, the Duchess of Cambridge’s stunning wedding gown is returning for an encore.
Those of us who admired it from the comfort of our sofas at home, can now see the £250,000 Alexander McQueen dress right up close – if we can get our hands on what is rapidly becoming the hottest ticket in town.
Fit for a Duchess: Kate Middleton's stunning wedding gown is going on display at the weekend, alongside other items from the big day
Beauty in the detail: 58 gazar buttons run from the collar to the waist on the gown, while Kate's veil is made of soft ivory silk tulle and stitched with flowers
The dress is to take pride of place at Buckingham Palace’s annual summer exhibition this year, ensuring we can bask in the afterglow of Kate and William’s wedding day just that little bit longer.
While most brides carefully wrap their bridal gowns in tissue paper and store them away with their memories, Kate’s will be shared with the nation all over again.
In fact visitors can relive every joyful moment of the day, with everything from the Duchess’s veil to her shoes and even the royal wedding cake on display.
Record demand means advance ticket sales are more than double on last year’s summer opening, with 600,000 people paying £17.50 per ticket to troop through the doors over the next ten weeks.
That would comfortably beat the palace’s previous highest attendance of 420,000 in 1994.
Here, the Daily Mail, which was offered an exclusive tour yesterday, can reveal the treasures in store for the first visitors this Saturday.
Something borrowed: This 1936 Cartier tiara was loaned to Kate by the Queen and contains 1,000 glittering diamonds
Icing on the cake: The top three layers of the cake are replicas, with two saved for the couple's first child's Christening, as tradition dictates
The first cut: The mark made by the couple using a ceremonial sword is clearly visible on the bottom tier of the cake
The Duchess herself was treated to a sneak preview on Wednesday night when she stole another look at the dress that featured an intricate Grace Kelly-inspired lace bodice hand-stitched by the world’s best seamstresses at the Royal School of Needlework.
The craftswomen had no idea what their commission was for, such was the secrecy surrounding the design.
The bodice was cinched into a tiny waist above the full silk skirt.
Twinkle toes: The duchess's hand-stitched shoes were designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen and are size five-and-a-half
Bouquet of memories: A silk replica of Kate's flowers include sweet william, myrtle, lily of the valley and hyacinth
The exhibition’s curator Caroline de Guitaut would not be drawn on what size it was, saying only: ‘Small.’
Then there are the shoes, barely noticed in the excitement of the day, which are worth a look in their full glory.
If you stoop beside the glass case, the tiny letters that reveal Kate’s shoe size, five and a half, are just visible. At a willowy 5’10”, she certainly has a dainty pair of feet.
Also created by the McQueen creative director Sarah Burton and her team, the shoes feature yet more impressive lace detailing hand-stitched over ivory duchess satin.
Little acorns: The Duchess's diamond earrings were a present from her parents for the wedding, and bear acorns as a nod to her family's new coat of arms
They appear to have been barely worn as, apart from stepping outside the Goring Hotel into her waiting car as a single woman, Kate spent most of the day walking on carpet.
SARAH BURTON ON THE DRESS
Then there are the diamond earrings given to the bride by her parents, bearing a diamond acorn to show the Middleton family’s new coat of arms.
And in the Ballroom, where the couple’s reception was held, visitors can see the 1936 Cartier tiara, glittering with 1,000 diamonds, that the Queen lent to Kate as her ‘something borrowed’ item.
The Duchess will join Her Majesty to formally open the exhibition this afternoon.
It also includes a short video, featuring Sarah Burton talking about her inspiration for the dress and Kate’s ‘hands-on’ involvement in the design process.
She explains that the Duchess had hands on involvement and wanted to create a gown with "presence and of historical importance" but one that had a contemporary feel.
‘We wanted to look to the past, yet look to the future as well,’ she says.
Finally to the State Dining Room, where visitors can see some of the eight-tiered wedding cake designed by Fiona Cairns.
Sadly, the top three levels on display are not the originals.
The uppermost two were kept by the newlyweds, in line with tradition which says you should keep them to serve at your first child’s christening, while the third was served to guests.
However, look closely among the sugary flowers on the bottom tier and you can see the mark left by the ceremonial sword the couple used to cut it – an unbroken link to a magical day.
The Royal Wedding Dress: A Story of Great British Design runs until October 3 at Buckingham Palace. Tickets are priced at £17.50 and can be obtained from www.royalcollection.org.uk or 0207 766 7300.
Showstopper: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, wearing the dress in all its glory, emerge from Westminster Abbey on their wedding day
Spectacular: Pippa Middleton carries the train of her sister's gown, which was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen and described as being sized 'small' by the exhibition's curator
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