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Kate Middleton's wedding dress debuts at Buckingham Palace

July 22, 2011 |  9:44 am

Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen wedding dress on display at Buckingham Palace

The dress worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William back in April is going on display at Buckingham Palace. And one of the privileges of royalty? The newly minted Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Queen Elizabeth II got to tour the setup Friday, a day before it opens to the public.

"Horrid, isn't it? Horrid and dreadful!" the 85-year-old queen reportedly joked to the 29-year-old granddaughter-in-law.

Visitors will be able to get within 8 feet of the dress seen 'round the world, which is presented, unprotected, on a raised platform in the palace ballroom where state banquets are held. Unlike tours of the White House, which are first-come, first-served and free of charge, the Buckingham Palace tour runs just shy of $30. No worries, apparently: Advance ticket sales are way up over last year.

Photos: Kate Middleton's wedding dress in action at Westminster Abbey

"What is so astounding ... is just how much thought and extraordinary work and craftsmanship and skill went into it," said Caroline de Guitaut, curator of decorative arts at the Royal Collection. She noted that the royal couple had been striving for modesty, despite the elaborate nature of the wedding.

"There is a sense of modesty in this dress," she said. "I think it will stand the test of time, definitely."

Catherine and the queen see the Kate Middleton wedding dress at Buckingham Palace Above the dress is the original veil and Cartier tiara worn by the bride, featuring about 900 diamonds and lent to her for the occasion by the queen. Kate's wedding shoes, earrings and a silk replica of her bouquet are also part of the show.

The almost 650,000 expected visitors can stop for visual dessert as well: The couple's ornate wedding cake is on show in a glass cabinet in the state dining room, complete with a deep cut where they plunged in the knife.

Photos: The royal wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William

In a video made to accompany the exhibition, Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton shares many secrets of the dress (a hidden bustle, weighted panels to help it perform on its trip down the Westminster Abbey aisle) while staying mum about the cost, as well as the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge's measurements.

Except for one, revealed not by Burton but by a stamp on an item itself.

Those who wondered whether that "glass slipper" would've fit them after the ball now know: Catherine was wearing a size 5.5 shoe.


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Reuters contributed to this report.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Top photo: The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and featuring a 9-foot train, can be seen at Buckingham Palace during the annual summer opening. Credit: Lewis Whyld / Getty Images

Bottom photos: Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, get a preview of the royal wedding exhibit in Buckingham Palace Friday. Credits: John Stillwell / Reuters