Princess Diana wore suede shoes with a hidden message painted underneath on her wedding day to Prince Charles 40 years ago, the cobbler who made them has revealed.
Clive Chilton, whose handmade shoes and handbags featured heavily in fashion magazines in the 1970s, was commissioned to make Diana’s wedding shoes.
Chilton told the Daily Mail that his first meeting with the late Princess of Wales came as a surprise, as designer Elizabeth Emanuel had only told him to come and meet a “special client”, only for him to find Diana waiting to have her feet measured.
He described Diana as a “very shy, sweet, smiley-eyed young girl” who chose a heart-shaped style for the bridal footwear. The shoes took six months to make, with everyone in Chilton’s workshop chipping in to create them and add the finishing touches.
The shoes featured a low heel, to allay Diana’s “main concern” that she wouldn’t appear taller than Charles, says Chilton, and were decorated with 542 sequins and 132 pearls.
Princess Diana’s wedding slippers are displayed at a preview of the traveling “Diana: A Celebration” exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
But it wasn’t just the tops of the shoes where attention to detail was paid.
There was also a hidden detail in the arches of the shoes, on the soles, where the letters C and D were painted with a gold heart between them, along with a floral motif.
Chilton said it was “important” for the bottom of the shoes to look “fantastic” even if nobody saw them, adding: “You would have seen much more of them if she’d tripped!”
While Diana’s wedding shoes were exquisite, it was her silk taffeta and antique lace gown and 25ft-long train that stole the wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981.
Elizabeth and David Emanuel, who designed the iconic dress, told the newspaper that the dress had creased up “far more than we’d anticipated” during Diana’s journey to the church with her father, Earl Spencer.
But in the end, despite the “imperfections” of the dress, the effect of Diana emerging from the carriage was “so romantic”, she said.
“When she came out of that carriage, it was the most wonderful vision I’d ever seen,” said Elizabeth. “She looked like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, unfurling her wings and about to fly.”
Diana married Charles on 29 July 1981, in a televised ceremony that was described by many as a “fairytale wedding” and the “wedding of the century”. It was watched by an estimated 750 million people around the globe.
The pair separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996 after 15 years of marriage.