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Parallel Princesses: Grace and Diana

Two new movies bring two beloved royals to life on the big screen (and they’re played by best friends Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts)


Left: Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace on their wedding day, 1956. Right: Princess Diana and Prince Charles' royal wedding in 1981.

April 1956: The wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly was watched by a TV audience of 30 million viewers. July 1981: The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was watched by a TV audience of 750 million. — Rolls Press/Getty Images and Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Weddings of the Century

Just 26, Grace sailed to Monaco from New York aboard the SS Constitution on April 4, 1956, with thousands of fans lining the streets for both the send-off and the arrival. A civil wedding took place on April 18 at Rainier's palace and a religious wedding was celebrated at Monaco's St. Nicholas Cathedral the next day, attended by 600 guests and watched on TV by about 30 million people.

The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana were married on July 29, 1981, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London instead of the traditional Westminster Abbey, to allow for more seating. The event was watched by a global TV audience of 750 million, while an estimated 600,000 people lined the route taken by Diana's carriage.

The Bridal Gown

For the religious ceremony, Grace wore a dress designed by MGM costumer Helen Rose, with a high neck and long sleeves as well as a form-fitting torso and flowing skirt. It contained, according to reports, 25 yards of silk taffeta, 100 yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace. The 90-yard veil, attached to a Juliet cap, was made of tulle. The cost at the time: $7,267. The gown is said to have inspired the one worn by Kate Middleton for her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

Diana's dramatic ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown with its 25-foot train cost $14,580 ($43,744 in today's dollars). Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, it featured large puffed sleeves and a billowing skirt, and was decorated with hand embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls. Knockoffs were available just hours after the ceremony.

Next page: Fashion forward princesses. »

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