'Horrid' royal display pulls in crowds

Record crowds are flocking to Buckingham Palace to see the dress worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge for her wedding to Prince William.

As the Queen takes her annual holiday, the display she described partly as "horrid", has already been visited by more than 354,000 people, the palace has revealed.

For an entry fee of £17.50 (NZ$33.90) for adults and £10 for children, visitors get a close-up glimpse at the Sarah Burton-designed silk gown worn by Catherine on April 29 for her world-famous nuptials.

The tiny-waisted gown is fitted to a headless dummy, which the Queen was heard by nearby media to describe as "horrid, isn't it? Horrible", prior to the July 23 opening.

Suspended above the dress is the Queen's Cartier tiara, loaned to Catherine for her big day, while nearby the bride's shoes and earrings are also on display.

In a neighbouring room sits the eight-tiered wedding cake in a glass case.

The palace anticipates another 500,000 visitors will pass through the gates before the summer opening ends on October 3.

In 2010 a total of 413,000 people visited the summer opening, surpassed only by the 420,000 in 1994.

"This year has been our highest to date," a Royal Collection spokeswoman told Britain's Daily Express newspaper of the crowd numbers.

"The wedding dress has proved very popular."

If visitor forecasts are accurate, the Queen stands to rake in £8 million from the 2011 summer opening, which also showcases the Royal Faberge Collection.

Funds raised by the opening typically go towards the maintenance and conservation of the collection, but in 2011 a donation is expected to be made to William and Catherine's wedding charity fund, benefiting 26 causes including Christchurch's earthquake relief fund.

- AAP

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