Thursday, July 21, 2011

Half a million people expected to visit Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress as it goes on show at Buckingham Palace

By Daily Mail Reporter

Frock star: The wedding dress of Duchess of Cambridge is to go on show this
Saturday at Buckingham Palace, with more than half a million people expected to visit the exhibition throughout the summer

Buckingham Palace is facing record demand for tickets for its summer opening — thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.

The gown, by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton, will take centre stage when the palace opens for the summer this weekend.

It will be the first time the ivory and white satin gown and 9ft train will have been seen in public since Kate Middleton married Prince William at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

Visitors are being urged to book in advance to avoid lengthy queues. The exhibition will be open seven days a week but many weekend slots are already taken.

More than half a million people are expected to visit, paying £17.50 a ticket, breaking the previous highest attendance figure of 420,000 in 1994.

Impressive: The dress will be on show in the state ballroom, where William and Catherine's wedding reception was held

This year’s exhibition also includes the royal family’s collection of Fabergé eggs and jewellery.

The Duchess’s dress will be displayed from July 23 until October 3 in the palace ballroom — the grand room that was used for their wedding reception and which is the setting for investitures.

Her handmade shoes, diamond earrings - a present from her parents - and the Halo Tiara she was loaned by the Queen will also be on show.

Visitors will be able to watch a video recording of Burton explaining how she made the dress.

Historic: Visitors will be able to view the 1902 State Landau carriage used to carry the Royal newly-weds to Buckingham Palace after the ceremony

One of the couple’s wedding cakes, a fruit cake by Fiona Cairns, will be displayed in the State dining room.

The other cake — a chocolate biscuit cake made by McVitie’s to a special recipe from Prince William — was believed to have been eaten on the wedding day.

However, those hoping to see the maid of honour’s dress, also designed by Burton, will be disappointed. That belongs to Pippa Middleton and will not be on show.

Neither will the dresses of the four bridesmaids or the uniforms worn by the two page boys.

Let them see cake! The eight-tiered wedding cake made by Fiona Cairns will be on display in the impressive rooms at Buckingham Palace

The Duchess’s dress is said to epitomise 'timeless British craftsmanship'.

Members of the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace, hand-made the lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt.

Visitors can also view the 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI used by Miss Middleton and her father Michael to travel from the Goring Hotel to Westminster Abbey, and the 1902 State Landau carriage in which the new bride and groom returned to Buckingham Palace.

The self-guided audio tours run from 9.30am to 6.30pm and take about two-and-a-half hours. Visitors have fixed start times — the last entry is 4.15pm — to prevent overcrowding.

Crown jewels: Catherine's Robinson Pelham diamond earrings, a gift from her parents, and the Halo tiara loaned to her by the Queen, will also star in the exhibit

Chancellor George Osborne told Parliament last week that Buckingham Palace would be open for longer than in previous years 'as the palace is looking for additional sources of income'.

The Royal Collection ploughs the proceeds back into the upkeep of the royal palaces.

The Queen’s financiers this month admitted they faced an increasing multi-million-pound backlog of work to maintain the palaces, with Buckingham Palace one of the worst affected.


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