No one does a wedding grandeur quite like a royal.
With the news of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May 2018, naturally, everyone is wondering who the actress will choose as her wedding dress designer, and what sort of style she’ll pick. And we’re using it as an excuse to look back in the archives at the Royal wedding dresses that have gone before her…
Royal wedding dresses
Princess Diana’s wedding dress
The most famous of all obviously being Princess Diana’s dress, created by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, for her wedding to Prince Charles on 29th July 1981. The ballgown was literally fit for a princess, with layers upon layers of silk taffeta, puffy sleeves and 25-foot-train. Sure, it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, and it does scream 80s, but the fact we are still talking about it today makes it rather iconic, non?
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress
You could say no dress has ever been as hotly anticipated as Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Estimated at a whopping £250k, it was designed (in secret, obvs) by Alexander McQueen creative fashion director Sarah Burton. The 50s style dress was made with satin gazar, lace and organza, was nipped in at the waist and featured a full skirt designed to mimic an opening flower. It had a relatively short train and was the perfect fit for the elegant decor of Westminster Abbey. Its something old was the 19th Century lace style on the bodice, and for her something blue, Kate had a bit of blue ribbon sewn inside the dress.
It went down a treat with viewers and fashion critics alike and as a result was copied by too many fashion brands to count.
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress
The world was talking about what Meghan would wear for months before the big day – and it did not disappoint. Designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller – the artistic director of Givenchy – the silk gown employed an open boat neckline, three quarter length sleeves and a piece of the blue dress from Meghan’s first date with Harry was reportedly stitched into the dress. Her veil was 16ft long and 3 metres wide with embroidered flowers (British wintersweet and California poppy) and is said to have taken 500 hours to complete. Kensington Palace announced that the dress showed ‘timeless minimal elegance’ and we have to agree.
Grace Kelly’s wedding dress
We can’t mention Harry and Meghan without the obvious reference to Grace Kelly, who was also an American actress who married a Prince, specifically Prince Rainer III of Monaco. Her dress is still lauded as one of the most beautiful of all time, and it’s even thought Kate was inspired by the classic design for hers. Fun fact for you: instead of picking a well-known designer (we’re sure the likes of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent were falling over themselves to do the job), Grace chose her MGM costume designer Helen Rose to do it, as the pair had worked closely in Hollywood. It was made with taffeta and embellished with 125-year-old lace and pearls and was just beautiful.
Scroll down to see more of the most iconic Royal wedding dresses of all time…
It was the royal wedding of the year when Prince William married long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in front of 1,900 guests at Westminster Abbey on April 29. Despite months of media speculation, the designer of Kate's dress was somehow kept a secret, with Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton only revealed as its creator as Kate made her entrance. Reminiscent of Grace Kelly's 1956 wedding dress, the elegant gown was thoroughly British, with all fabrics, save for the French Chantilly lace, sourced by UK companies. The lace appliqué on the corseted bodice and skirt was handmade by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique. The needles were replaced every three hours, and the workers were required to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace threads perfect.
Beatrice married Pierre Casiraghi, son of Caroline Princess of Hanover (and grandson of Grace Kelly), in 2015. For the lavish second ceremony, the bride wore Giorgio Armani, to celebrate with guests including Lana Del Rey and Eva Herzigova.
On 13th June 2015, Sofia wed Prince Carl Philip of Sweden at The Royal Palace in Stockholm. The bride wore a Ida Sjöstedt gown which featured intricate lace detailing, made in three shades of white. She accessorised the dress with an elegant diamond and emerald crown.
South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock married Prince Albert of Monaco II in a glittering £50 million ceremony in 2011, in front of a bumper 3,500 guest-list at the royal palace. She wore a simple off-the-shoulder Armani Privé dress.
It was another suitably lavish affair, when Prince Nikolaos, the second son of former King Constantine of Greece, wed his bride - a fashion events planner for Diane Von Furstenberg - in a monastery on the Southern Greek island of Stepses. While the groom arrived by luxury boat, 29-year-old Tatiana made her entrance in a beautiful Angel Sanchez gown on a horse-drawn carriage.
To marry Prince Felix of Luxembourg, Princess Claire wore the most stunning embellished gown, courtesy of Elia Saab. It came with a 10-foot train naturally.
Eyebrows were initially raised when the heir to the throne of Sweden announced she was to marry her former fitness instructor in 2010 - but the ceremony turned out to be the biggest European Royal wedding since Prince Charles wed Diana, with an astonishing 500 million TV viewers worldwide. She wore a dress by Pär Engsheden.
In 2008 at St. James' Palace, London, Lady Rose - the daughter of the queen's cousin - walked down the aisle in a white couture gown, along with a glittering tiara that once belonged to Queen Mary. And in a fun twist, guests were transported to the ceremony on a shiny red Routemaster Bus. But the nuptials were almost upstaged by Kate Middleton's decision to attend alone, without beau Prince William.
The son of Princess Anne met Montreal-born Autumn Kelly while working out in Canada, before the pair moved to London together for several years. Following their wedding in May 2008, the pair moved out to Hong Kong, where they have welcomed their first child - and the Queen's first great-grandchild. The bride wore a dress by bridal designer Sassi Holford.
The second marriage for both parties, Charles and Camilla wanted their wedding to be a low key affair. Neither the Queen or Prince Phillip were in attendance, with Princes William and Harry along with Camilla's children, instead acting as official witnesses. The ceremony was also postponed by one day, to allow members of the royal family to attend the funeral of Pope Jean Paul II. Camilla shunned the traditional white gown in favour of a cream silk chiffon dress hemmed with vertical rows of Swiss-made appliqued woven disks, and a matching oyster silk basket weave coat. The outfit was designed by Robinson Valentine, and she wore accessories by L.K.Bennett and Philip Treacy.
Journalist Letizia Orti wed Prince Felipe in a modern dress by Manuel Pertegaz, accessorised with a tiara and veil of course.
In June 1999, Prince Edward wed PR Executive Sophie in one of the most intimate royal ceremonies in history, attended by just 560 guests. In a twist on tradition, the bride wore a black and white pearl necklace and dress coat, both designed by the groom.
For her wedding to Prince Andrew on 23rd July 1986, Fergie shunned convention, opting to design her own bridal gown - it featured a 17ft train and an embroidered letter 'A'. The pair had two children together, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, but following a four year separation, the couple announced their divorce in 1996.
When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1980, the wedding pictures became the images that defined an era. The dress, which spawned a decade of meringues, was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and featured a 25 foot train and 10,000 hand sewn pearls and sequins.
Grace Kelly’s daughter wed Philippe Junot in the 70s, wearing a classic bohemian style of the time. We love the fact she shunned a tiara in favour of a crown of flowers.
On 30th June 1978, the German-born Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz wed Prince Michael of Kent married in Vienna, Austria. The ceremony took place just one month after her first marriage - to English banker Thomas Troubridge - was officially annulled. She wore a 70s style dress.
The first of two marriages, Anne wed Captain Mark Phillips on brother Prince Charles' 25th birthday in 1973. However, the couple separated in 1989, finally announcing their divorce on 23 April 1992. She wore a Tudor style dress designed by Maureen Baker.
Princess Margaret's wedding to photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones on 9th May 1960 was the first ever royal wedding to be televised. Their consequent separation, in 1978, was a huge landmark - the first royal divorce in over 400 years. Her dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, the favoured couturier of the royals, and was made from silk organza. He designed it so that the crystal embellishments and beading were kept to a minimum, to suit Margaret's petite frame.
Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly had only met her royal husband-to-be twice before walking down the aisle. With a grand wedding befitting a Hollywood fairytale film, the bride's iconic gown was even designed by an MGM costumer, Helen Rose.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip's union was held on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey in London, the then Princess Elizabeth was just 21 years old when she wed her 26-year-old naval officer beau - who denounced his title from Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, to Lt Phillip Mountbatten, prior to the ceremony. It was hardly a small occasion - the service took place in front of 2,500 esteemed guests, five years before Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen of England. Given the rationing of clothing at the time, Elizabeth had to purchase the material for her dress using ration coupons. It was designed by Norman Hartnell, and was made with soft Damascus Prokar, featuring a high neckline, tailored bodice and a short train.