Taken-aback Queen finds wedding dress display 'horrible'

THE Queen came face to face with the Duchess of Cambridge's iconic wedding dress yesterday - but was taken aback by its dramatic setting.

The ghost-like appearance of the headless mannequin used to exhibit the bridal gown prompted the monarch to describe it as "horrible".

The Queen, like the rest of the world, probably marvelled at the gown when it was worn by Kate on her wedding day at Westminster Abbey on 29 April.

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But it was the setting the garment was displayed in that drew her frank reaction during a private tour with Kate of a new Buckingham Palace exhibition.

The Duchess's bridal gown appears almost like an apparition after being brightly lit in the royal residence's ballroom and set against a dark background.

The display is completed with Kate's veil and tiara, but where the head should be is an eerily empty space.

When the two royals entered the ballroom, they began chatting as they looked at the display. The pitch of the Queen's voice went up and she said "horrible".

It appeared the mannequin's lack of a head may have perturbed the Queen, who added: "It's made to look very creepy."

The Duchess said: "It's a bit surreal, I expect to see my face on it," and also described the display as having a "3D effect".

The dress, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, is the centrepiece of the exhibition. Kate saw the display earlier in the week when she joined some of her wedding party for a private viewing.

The bridal gown features lace applique floral detail and is made of ivory and white satin gazar, with a skirt which resembles "an opening flower" with white satin gazar arches and pleats. Its train measures 9ft, which is modest in comparison with many previous royal brides.

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The display is completed with Kate's veil and Cartier "Halo" tiara, loaned by the monarch, placed above the figure.

Every year the Queen holds a private tour of the exhibition, which marks the summer opening of Buckingham Palace.

Staged in the familiar setting of her official London home, she always appears very relaxed and openly discusses the items on show.

The Queen chatted animatedly to the party as they moved closer to the display of the dress, and then on to a small cabinet holding Kate's wedding shoes, a replica of her bouquet and the diamond earrings she wore.

They were commissioned by the Middleton family as a gift to the bride.

During the tour, the Queen and Duchess walked into the dimly-lit display room showing the Royal Family's Faberge collection.

The objects, amassed since Queen Victoria's reign and described as the world's finest collection of the Russian jeweller's work, will dazzle visitors.

The Duchess described them as "amazing" while the monarch said they had been shut away in a "cupboard" and told her grandson's wife: "Nobody can afford these things nowadays."

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The Queen and Kate also stopped to view the display of the wedding cake. They appeared at ease in each other's company and the event was the first time they have been photographed together.

Following tradition, the Duke and Duchess have kept the top two tiers of their wedding cake, while the third tier was served at the wedding reception.

The Buckingham Palace exhibition runs from today until 3 October.