Inside Meghan’s top secret wedding dress fittings – and the five people who knew

One billion people collectively gasped when Meghan emerged from a burgundy Rolls-Royce yesterday.

Climbing the steps of St George’s Chapel, she gave royal fans across the globe their first glimpse of the most anticipated wedding dress in history.

The 36-year-old American chose Givenchy’s British artistic director Clare Waight Keller, 47, to design the £200,000 ivory-white gown.

And the details of their top secret relationship has now been laid bare.

Dashing across London in a baseball cap or beanie, Meghan and Clare ran a covert operation in the lead up to the big day.

The commission was so secret, the bride did not go to Paris to visit the French fashion house’s headquarters, but instead met Clare at her Chelsea home.

According to reports, Meghan would dress down and dart into the West London flat.

The process began in January, when Meghan began looking through sketches with best friend Jessica Mulroney, who runs her own bridal business in Canada.

Until yesterday, only five people in the world knew details about the dress – the bride, Jessica, Clare and two discreet assistants at Givenchy.

Once a design was decided on, expert seamstresses got to work.

The veil took hundreds of hours to make as seamstresses religiously washed their hands every 30 minutes.

The delicate fabric had to be kept pristine and flowers from 53 Commonwealth countries were to feature.

The result was a three-quarter length, simple gown with an elegant boat neck and 16ft veil made from silk tulle.

"The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasises the slender sculpted waist," Kensington Palace said in a statement.

"The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity."

The gown was made of double bonded cady silk with a sweeping train.

Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, called the dress "beautiful" while bridal designer Raishma said the gown was "an example of couture design at its most classic and timeless".

"It was not a Cinderella choice, not one that spoke of fantasy or old-fashioned fairy tales, but one that placed the woman proudly front and center," Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at The New York Times, wrote.

"It underscored Ms. Markle’s own independence by divesting her of frippery, while also respecting tradition and keeping her covered up."

The well-kept secret over who would design the dress had kept royal fans and fashionistas guessing for months.

Among the those cited as contenders were labels Ralph & Russo and Burberry as well as designer Stella McCartney.

Waight Keller, whose name has now been catapulted into the global spotlight, described the chance to work on the historic occasion as "an honour".

"We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasise the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history, as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts," she said in a statement.

Meghan’s long veil, made of silk tulle, was decorated with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, the palace said, and paid tribute to the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

"Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition," the palace said.

Prince Harry last month was appointed a Commonwealth youth ambassador.

Queen Elizabeth lent the 36-year-old bride a historic tiara for the occasion. Made in 1932 for Elizabeth’s grandmother Queen Mary, the sparkling diamond and platinum bandeau has a centre brooch dating from 1893.

Meghan, now to be called the Duchess of Sussex, also wore Cartier earrings and bracelet, and silk duchess satin shoes.

For the evening wedding reception, Meghan changed into a Stella McCartney design – a slinky silk crepe dress in lily white, with a high neck.

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