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Royal wedding dresses Part 1/5

Every bride expects to have a fairytale ​entrance on her wedding day—especially royal brides. Here are a selection of royal wedding dresses throughout history.

Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom

Given the rationing of clothing at the time, in 1947 she still had to purchase the material using ration coupons. The dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, had a star- patterned fan-shaped bridal train that was 13 feet in length. It had elaborate embroidery motifs of scattered flowers on the rich satin dress a tulle veil and a border of orange blossom around the hem. The dress featured a heart-shaped neckline and long tight sleeves. The material used was unusually rich, lustrous stiff ivory satin. A diamond fringe tiara secured her veil. On the wedding day, the dress glittered, bejewelled with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls imported from the USA skilfully worked in the flowing lines of wheat ears, the symbol of fertility.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium

The 1999 wedding dress’ simple lines, buttoned overcoat and flared collar came from a medieval influence. The train was 15ft long, and was an elegant combination with her treasured heirloom veil, which was made from finest Brussels lace, first worn 120 years earlier and passed down in Queen Paola’s family ever since.

Princess Claire of Belgium

British-born, Belgian-raised Claire Coombs’ 2003 dress was simple design in palest cream with the satin worked into an off the shoulder bodice that gave way to a slightly flared full length skirt. The top of the dress had a Chantilly lace cover providing full length sleeves and a hint of material at the top which left the shoulders bare. Her simple skirt fanned out into a beautiful train, helped by a very clever pleat which allows the fabric to move with the bride. Claire wore the same antique veil as Mathilde, but here the lace on the veil had an overlay bodice made of chantilly lace from Calais.

Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

On August 25, 2001, Mette Marit Tjessem Hoiby and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway became man and wife. The dress was created from thick custom-dyed heavy ecru silk crepe and 125 meters of silk tulle. The 6 feet (2 meter) long train on the dress was unusually shorter than the silk veil, which was nearly 20 feet long. Rather than the traditional bouquet, the bride carried a long garland of leaves, with purple and white flowers woven among them.

Diana Princess of Wales

This is the first dress that comes to mind for many people when they think of royal wedding dresses. The ivory woven silk taffeta and antique lace gown with a 25-foot train and a 153- yard tulle veil was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The dress was decorated with hand embroidery, sequins, and 10,000 pearls, centering on a heart motif. An 18-karat gold horseshoe was stitched into the petticoats as a sign of good fortune. The antique lace trim was hand-made Carrickmacross lace which had belonged to Queen Mary. The long train posed problems, the designers realized too late that they had forgotten to allow for the train’s length in relation to the size of the glass coach Diana rode in to the ceremony. They found it difficult to fit inside the glass coach, and the train was badly crushed despite Diana’s efforts.

Grace Kelly Princess of Monaco

The wedding dress of the American actress Grace Kelly, worn during her wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco on 19 April 1956, is cited as one of the most elegant of all time. It was designed by Helen Rose of MGM. The dress was a bodice with an attached under- bodice and skirt support. There were two petticoats, one being an attached foundation. It was a high-necked, long-sleeved gown with a fitted torso and billowing skirt. The wedding attire included a headdress, veil, shoes and the lace and pearl encrusted prayer book which she carried down the aisle. The dress materials included twenty five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace The Juliet cap that she wore was bejewelled with seed pearls and orange blossoms. The veil, made of tulle, measured 90 yards.

Princess Margaret

The 1960 wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, the favoured couturier of the royals, and was made from silk organza. The skirt comprised some 30 metres of fabric. Hartnell specifically kept the adornments of the dress such as the crystal embellishments and beading to a minimum in order to suit Margaret’s petite frame. Vogue described the dress as “stunningly tailored”. Another author called it “a study in simplicity”. Life magazine named it “the simplest royal wedding gown in history”.

Princess Charlotte of Wales

Charlotte was the sole product of the disastrous and bitter marriage between the George IV and Caroline of Brunswick. She was a popular princess, and her marriage to Prince Leopold in 1816 was greeted with much excitement. It became the first royal wedding for which souvenirs were made widely available. Her dress was the height of fashion, it featured an empire line and was ankle length, it shimmered from the combined effect of a net dress with silver embroidery and a white and silver petticoat underneath. (The fabric, called lama, real woven gold or silver threads.) The dress was adorned with flowers at the hem and Brussels lace around the neckline and sleeves. The train was made of the same material as the petticoat. Charlotte draped herself in diamonds, including some in her hair. It cost over £10,000, which would be over £800,000 today.

Queen Anne Marie of Greece

The 1964 Jorgen Bender silk dress isn’t over done, the gown is relatively unadorned with lace detail on the skirt. Anne-Marie’s lace veil extended over her long train and was anchored in place by the Khedive of Egypt Cartier tiara, a gem that has been worn by all of Queen Ingrid of Denmark’s female descendants on their wedding days.

Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma

Her 2012 gown from Dutch designer Addy van den Kronemaker featured sweet sleeves and a bodice in lace which parted over the slim skirt to create a flowing train. The lace included heirloom Bruges lace from the Dutch royal family. Carolina borrowed the Laurel Wreath Tiara from the Dutch royal family for the day, a classic diamond piece in the Greek laurel wreath design.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden

Victoria’s 2010 dress was by Swedish designer Pär Engsheden. it’s made of cream duchess silk satin. The rounded collar is nearly off the shoulder and includes small sleeves. A sash at the waist transitions the dress to the slim line skirt with a small incorporated train. At the back, the rounded collar ends in a v shape and buttons close the dress. A nearly 5 meter (16 foot) detachable train extends from the waist, and includes a small amount of embellished detail around its edge. she wore the Bernadotte family heirloom lace veil and the Cameo Tiara, a beautiful historical piece dating back to Empress Joséphine.

Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge

The ivory satin bodice was padded slightly at the hips and narrowed at the waist it incorporated floral motifs cut from machine-made lace, which were appliqued on to silk net. The main body of the dress was made in ivory and white satin gazar, with a long, full skirt designed to echo an opening flower, with soft pleats which unfolded to the floor, forming a Victorian-style semi-bustle at the back, and finishing in a train. To partially fulfill the ‘something blue’ portion of the British wedding tradition, a blue ribbon was sewn inside the dress. The design for the bodice of the dress featuring lace in the style of the 19th century was the ‘something old’.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Mary’s 2004 dress was made of ivory duchess satin with a mother- of-pearl sheen, fully lined with silk organza. The scoop neckline just touched on the shoulders before descending into sleeves that wrapped the arm like a lily and a slim-fit bodice. Mary had her mother’s wedding ring stitched in near her heart. Her bouquet, which included eucalyptus to honor her Aussie roots, was taken to Scotland to rest on the grave of her mother and grandparents. The most unique feature of the dress was the skirt, where panels of the satin opened from her hip to reveal 8 meters of heirloom lace. The Irish lace. The back of the skirt keeps its fullness thanks to 31 meters of tulle edged in French Chantilly lace underneath and features a detachable train.

Infanta Cristina of Spain

The bride wore a 1997 Lorenzo Caprile dress. Featuring a princess line silhouette, the gown is crafted from silk specially made in Valencia. It’s a very simple design, with a few standout features. The dress seems to feature little to no ornamentation, but there’s actually an embroidered silver detail at the empire line of the waist. The design is carried through on the trains. The train itself is about 3 meters long. It also features an off-the-shoulder neckline, an interesting feature given we usually hear that the first component of a royal wedding dress is that it must cover the shoulders to be respectful of the church.

Sarah Duchess of York

She wore a dress made from ivory duchesse satin and featuring heavy beading for her wedding to Prince Andrew, Duke of York on 23 July 1986 at Westminster Abbey. Designed by Lindka Cierach, the beadwork incorporated various symbols including hearts representing romance, anchors and waves representing Prince Andrew’s sailing background and bumblebees and thistles, which were taken from Sarah Ferguson’s family heraldry. A notable feature of Sarah Ferguson’s 17 foot long train was the intertwined initials A and S sewn in silver beads. The head-dress and bouquet, fabric rosettes were used to adorn the gown itself.

Princess Charlene of Monaco

She wore an off-the-shoulder Armani Privé silk gown, which took three seamstresses 2,500 hours to make. The skirt of the gown folded out to a shorter train, while the crossover neckline extended into a longer train on top. Down the front of the dress, the bottom of the skirt, and the center of the train were 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops, and 30,000 gold stones, all stitched in a floral pattern with platinum-coated embroidery thread. The detailing along took 700 hours to complete. The veil also featured light embroidery on 20 meters of off-white silk tulle.

Princess Hayu

The lavish wedding ceremony was in line with the traditions of Javanese culture, prompting the bride, groom, and all in attendance to wear traditional Javanese wedding styles. Both the bride’s and groom’s faces were painted and adorned with intricate headdresses and pieces of jewelry. The colorful traditional wear also prompted the groom to attend his wedding topless, while both of them were adorned in vibrant and regal gold-accented wraps. Attendants carried bright peacock feathers which added to the festive tone.

Princess Anne (1)

The 1973 dress worn by Princess Anne was designed by Maureen Baker. The dress was an embroidered “Tudor-style” wedding dress with a high collar and “mediaeval sleeves”. The train was embroidered by Lock’s Embroiderers. The 23-year- old bride designed the dress herself. Compared to previous royal wedding dresses, it was described as “simplistic” and was noted as being close to contemporary 1970s wedding fashions. The dramatic trumpet sleeves were edged in pearls and draped over pleated chiffon cuffs to create their shape. Though simple in appearance, the gown did have some significant ornamentation: the neck and top featured rows of pearls and the back and train of the gown featured orange blossom embroidery in pearls and silver thread.

Queen Sofía of Spain

Sophia wore a 1962 dress of silver lame covered in layers of heirloom Bruges lace and tulle. The dress itself was rather simple in design, with fitted three-quarter-length sleeves, a flared skirt, and a jewel neckline. The twenty foot long white lame and organza train extended from the neck of the dress. Sophia’s veil consisted of fifteen feet of heirloom Bruges lace. Queen Frederica had worn the same veil when she married Paul of Greece in 1938. The dress was made in Greece by Greek seamstresses at the bride’s request.

Meghan Markle Duchess of Sussex

The 2018 Dress was made of silk with three-quarter-length sleeves, an open boat neckline and a train with built-in triple silk organza underskirt. Waight Keller helped develop a double bonded silk cady for the construction of the six seamed dress. The dress was without lace or any other embellishments. A piece of the blue dress from her first date with Prince Harry was stitched into the bridal gown. The dress was augmented by a long 5 metre (16-ft) veil, hand-embroidered with Individual flowers representing the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and symbolic crops of wheat. It was 3 metres wide. The veil took 500 hours to create.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark

Margrethe’s 1967 silk gown came from royal couturier Jorgen Bender. The silk dress featured a flared skirt, long sleeves and a square neckline. The front showcased several family traditions: the lace down the center is a piece of lace passed down from Queen Ingrid’s mother, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, from her own wedding gifts. This lace (along with another narrower piece of lace) has been used on various family wedding gowns. The 6 meter long silk train descended from Margrethe’s shoulders and ended with an unusual squared edge detail which echoed the gown’s neckline. The lace was accented with her centrally positioned brooch, which was a wedding gift to Queen Ingrid from her father in honor of her mother – Margaret’s nickname was Daisy, as is Queen Margrethe’s.

Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark

The bride’s 1932 gown was in white and silver silk brocade, designed by Edward Molyneux, and worked on by a team of seamstresses including, at Marina’s request, Russian émigrées. The dress featured sheath silhouette, a draped cowl neckline, trumpet sleeves, and a wide train. A tiara, given to her as a wedding gift, secured her tulle veil.

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon   The Queen Mother

Her 1923 gown was crafted by Madame Handley Seymour, a court dressmaker for Queen Mary, but it certainly wasn’t your typical court dress. The design followed the Coco Chanel-dictated trends of the time: dropped waists and straight silhouettes. The gown is silk crepe moire embellished extensively with pearls and silver embroidery. The detail and weight of the decoration gives the dress an almost medieval feel. Her veil (loaned to her by Queen Mary) covered her head almost as a hat would and fell cloak -like at her sides. She anchored it with a band of myrtle and a York rose on each side rather than the tiara we’d expect today. Since her gown was short sleeved, she had a wrap to guard her against the April weather.

Pincess Lalla Salma of Morocco

The marriage of Mohammed VI and Salma Bennani changed the history of royal marriage in Morocco. Traditionally, the wife of the king hasn’t had a public role to play. Moroccan kings have typically been polygamists prone to secret marriages to wives who remain private figures. In 1999 he announced his engagement. Not only did he announce that he was marrying, he identified his bride and released a picture of Salma Bennani, a Moroccan who worked in IT when they met at a party in 1999. They married in a private ceremony on March 21, 2002. The bride dressed traditionally, including donning a thick veil for a portion of the ceremonies. She let her signature red locks cascade down around her and topped them with a diamond meander tiara.

Princess Michael of Kent,   Marie Christine von Reibnitz

The couple married on 30th June 1978 surrounded only by close family. The bride wore a Bellville Sassoon cream silk crepe gown. The dress had a pin tucked bodice, a deep neckline with see trough panel and lace trim. There was a small train and the skirt of the dress had inserts of Chantilly lace.

Christina of Sweden

The 1974 white silk crepe gown, has a wrap-style top and v-neck, bell sleeves, and bands accenting the waist and the slim skirt. The gown also included an attached train. She wore Queen Sofia’s lace veil and the Connaught Tiara. The tiara was one of Princess Sibylla’s favorites (so much so that it has been referred to as “Princess Sibylla’s tiara”)

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester

Alice did not want to marry in a pure white dress. She wore a satin gown in a pearl pink shade with a matching tulle veil and a cluster of orange blossoms at the neckline. On her head she wore a crystal headdress specially made for the day instead of a regular tiara.

Doña Simoneta Gómez-Acebo  y  de Borbón

A 1990 dress with a a court train measuring over 20 feet. A simple white silk confection of Christian Dior, was designed to showcase Queen María Cristina pearl and diamond tiara. It was the same tiara the Infanta Pilar used at her wedding and belonged to the Countess of Barcelona.

Empress Masako of Japan

On the morning of the 1993 wedding, Masako’s body was purified in an ancient ritual. Next, court ladies dressed her in the formal bridal attire, the juni- hitoe, which literally means twelve-layered garment. The 30-pound silk kimono with a white silk brocade train took three hours to put on and cost over £300,000. Masako’s hair was arranged in classic style with long, artificial strands added down her back.

Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland

Lilian Craig was a Welsh-born model and aspiring actress. She met Prince Bertil of Sweden in 1943 and they fell in love. 33 years later, they were finally allowed to marry. He was 64, she was 61. The bride wore an ice blue silk shantung coat dress with bell sleeves made for her by her long-time friend and designer Elizabeth Wondrak. She accessorized with blue feathers in her hair, pearl and diamond jewelry, and a bouquet of lilies of the valley. She became Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland, and would eventually be honored with Sweden’s highest order of chivalry, the Order of the Seraphim.

Princess Nejla bint Asem

The bride, who is the great-granddaughter of King Abdullah I of Jordan, wore a shimmering, floor -length gown for the nuptials, which glimmered under the lights with its intricate beading and embroidery. Finished with a nipped-in belt and crystal-encrusted sheer sleeves.

Katharine Worsley the Duchess of Kent

The bride’s 1961 wedding dress, designed by John Cavanagh on the recommendation of her future mother-in-law, was made of 237 yards of French -made diaphanous white silk gauze. It featured a tight bodice, stiff neckline, and a full skirt with a 15-foot double train. She anchored her white tulle veil with a diamond bandeau tiara which belonged to the bridegroom’s late grandmother, Queen Mary.

Queen Sonja of Norway

It was a creation from Oslo clothing store Molstad. In many ways, it is a typical design of the time (1968) the silk gown is structural yet simple, with a high round neck, a bell shaped skirt and three- quarter length bell sleeves to match. The pearl ornamentation around the cuffs of the sleeve and the neck is restrained. A long train fastens at her shoulders and widens as it extends back to a squared edge, and her tulle veil extends the length of the train. Though Sonja would soon have some of the grandest tiaras in the Norwegian monarchy at her disposal, she crowned her veil with a white artificial floral ornament.

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom

She wore a dress of white satin featuring deep flounces of Honiton lace, the design featured roses, ivy, and myrtle, for her marriage to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein on 5 July 1866 at Windsor Castle. Her headpiece was composed of orange blossom and myrtle, and the veil was also made of Honiton lace. She also wore a necklace, earrings, and brooch of opals and diamonds, a wedding gift from the Queen. Along with bracelets set with miniatures, Helena also wore the Order of Victoria and Albert.

Caroline, Princess of Hanover

In 1978, 21-year-old Princess Caroline married 38-year- old playboy Philippe Junot. For her wedding gown, she turned to Marc Bohan at Christian Dior. The end result was not precisely the original design intent: Bohan had to make last minute changes after details of the bride’s look leaked. Her wedding dress was very of-the-era, with a billowing waistline, flowing sleeves, and floral accents. The long veil was changed at the last moment for a much shorter one.

Queen Rania of Jordan

Rania chose British designer Bruce Oldfield to create her 1993 wedding look. Drawing on inspiration from the embellishments on Syrian formal dresses exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Oldfield added gold detailing to the trim of the bride’s voluminous gown, matching hair ornament and gloves. The dress had exaggerated lapels, short sleeves, and large belt. The skirt was full with folds and extended into a train at the back. A veil attached not to a tiara but a headband.

Princess Ayako of Takamado

She a pale yellow traditional court kimono with red flowers and green leaves embroidered on it, and a rich purple hakama (wide-leg ankle-length pants) underneath. Her hair was styled in an elegant osuberakashi, a traditional look for noblewomen. For the indoor ceremony, she changed into a more formal kouchiki, or “small cloak,” that featured brightly hued floral accents embroidered over a brilliant red silk, and fell to the ground behind her as she walked.

Paola Ruffo di Calabria Queen of Belgium

Paola’s gown was made of specially woven heavy satin. The dress features a 5 meter long train and a bow at the waist accented with a small brooch. The standout feature is her veil, a family heirloom first worn by her Belgian grandmother and made, so fittingly, of wonderful Brussels lace. Since Paola brought the veil “home”, the family tradition has continued with her daughter and two daughters-in-law wearing it at their weddings. Paola wore a small cluster of orange blossoms in lieu of a tiara with her grand veil.

Lady Sarah Chatto

She may have had a queen for a grandmother and a queen for an aunt, but Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (daughter of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon) but her 1994, wasn’t really a royal affair it was held at a Church instead of a large cathedral, in front of 200 guests instead of 2,000. The dress was a custom creation from Jasper Conran, It had a square neckline with yards of white georgette draped over the corset bodice and down the skirt and train. The dress inspiration came from a Holbein portrait. Sarah went with older bridesmaids than is typical for a British royal wedding, and she dressed them in much the same dress as herself. Sarah’s veil was anchored with the Snowdon Floral Tiara to enhance the floral effect, some greenery was added amongst the diamond flowers. (Personally this and Princess Sofia Of Sweden’s dress are two of my favorites)

Beatrice Borromeo

She wore an ivory-coloured dress with a flared silhouette in Chantilly lace. The silk chiffon layered gown had a sweep train extending from the waist and was paired with a delicate silk tulle veil with a Chantilly lace border.

Below are some interesting books and movies about royal wedding’s and the beautiful dresses.

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