The Royal Collection of wedding dresses from www.hrp.org.uk
Dear readers, the historian in me has taken over this week! I want to share with you in two separate posts some photos of royal weddings past and present – and not only from the British Royal family, but from all over the world.
Let’s begin by going back in time to the early 19th century.
Princess Charlotte of Wales was born on the 7th of January 1796. Her father was George, the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) and her mother, Caroline of Brunswick. She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield on May 2nd, 1816. It is said her gown (below) cost 10,000 pounds, which in today’s currency would be more than 80,000 pounds or about $130,000. It was made from silver cloth decorated with silver embroidered flowers and shells and Brussels lace.
A scene from Princess Charlotte’s wedding at Jane Austen’s World.
Princess Alexandrina Victoria – later Queen Victoria – was born on the 24th of May,1819 and married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (the love of her life!) on the 10th of February,1840 in the Chapel Royal of St.James’ Palace. The dress (below) was a “simple” full pleated skirt. Her choice of colour, white, was considered odd since coloured dresses for weddings were fashionable at the time. Although Queen Victoria was not the first woman to choose white for her wedding dress – for example Mary, Queen of Scots wore white in 1559 – it is because of her that white became more popular for weddings. The fabric was a heavy silk satin and Honiton lace from Devonshire. She was criticized for being too simple as she did not wear any jewelry, furs, velvet or her crown. Her dress was designed by William Dyce and constructed by Mary Bettans, one of Victoria’s dressmakers.
The royal wedding gowns are preserved and cared for by the Historic Royal Palaces Conservators. Below are the satin shoes worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children, the first being the Princess Royal Victoria born on the 21st of November 1840. She married Frederick lll, Emperor of Germany on the 25th of January 1858 at St. James’ Palace Chapel in London. Her dress was said to have been very becoming of her. It was constructed by Mrs. Darvill and designed by Miss Janet Fife who chose white moire antique and Honiton lace covered with roses, shamrocks and thistles. The train was three metres in length and made from white moire antique trimmed with the same lace as her dress. A wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle crowned her head and secured her veil which was made of the same lace. A wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle was very fashionable for brides in the 1800’s and was also worn by Victoria’s sisters Alice and Helena, as well as the Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
Above, Victoria, the Princess Royal on her wedding day in 1858. Some more great photos at The Dreamstress.
The Princess Alice was born on the 25th of April 1843, the third child of Queen Victoria. She married the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, Louis lV on the 1st of July 1862. The ceremony took place in the dining room of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, a mansion that was Queen Victoria’s country getaway. Her dress was described as being “half high”, with Honiton Lace. Her veil was of the same lace with a wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle. Osborne House was chosen as the venue for the wedding because the royal family was still in mourning following the death of Alice’s father Prince Albert. It’s no wonder she doesn’t look too happy in the photo below!
Princess Helena, the 5th daughter of Queen Victoria was born on the 25th of May 1846 and married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein on the 5th of December 1865. Her dress was a white satin with an extra long train edged with bouquets of orange blossom and myrtle and of course, the flower wreath in her hair was also orange blossom and myrtle. The lace on the gown was a design of roses, ivy and myrtle and her necklace, earrings and brooch were opals and diamonds.
Alix of Hesse and by Rhine was the daughter of Princess Alice and grand-daughter of Queen Victoria. She was born on the 6th of June, 1872 and became the Empress consort when married Czar Nicholas II on the 26th of November 1894 at the Grand Church of the Winter Palace of St. Petersburg. She wore a silver coloured dress and her mother’s lace veil. Like her mother she had a simple wedding (pictured below) as the Russian Court was still in mourning over the death of Nicholas’ father.
Above: The wedding dress of Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine who became the Empress consort when she married Czar Nicholas II. It must have been quite the stressful event as Princess Alix is reported to have gone to bed early with a headache the night of her wedding; this according to the diary of her new husband, Czar Nicholas!
Alexandra of Denmark, the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel, was born the 1st of December 1844 in Copenhagen. She married King Edward the Vll of Great Britain at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on the 10th of March 1863. Her dress was white and made of English silk. Again, Devonshire Horton lace was used with designs of roses for England, shamrocks for Ireland and thistles for Scotland.The dress (below) was designed by Charles Frederick Worth, a haute-couture English fashion designer and constructed by a Mrs. James of Belgravia.
Photo Source ~ The Dreamstress
Princess Mary of Teck was born on the 26th of May 1867 to Francis the Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge at Kensington Palace, London. She married George, then Duke of York, on the 6th of July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’ Palace, London. The dress (below) of white satin featured three small flounces of Honiton lace which was from her mother’s wedding dress. She also wore her mother’s veil fastened by diamond pins given her by Queen Victoria. She also wore a diamond tiara that belonged to the Queen.
Pictured above: The wedding dress of Mary of Teck who became Queen Mary, the Queen consort, when she wed the Duke of York. She is the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.
Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, born on the 4th of August, 1900, became Queen Elizabeth, the Queen consort to King George VI (also know as the Queen Mother). She married Albert, who at the time was the Duke of York, on the 26th of April 1923 at Westminster Abbey. Her fashionable gown, an ivory chiffon moire and very typical of the style of the 1920’s, was designed by court dressmaker Madam Handley Seymour. It was embroidered with pearls and thread of silver and the train was made from Flanders lace.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, who at the age of 26 became Queen Elizabeth II, was born on the 21st of April 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York, at 17 Burton St, Mayfair. She married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark at Westminster Abbey on the 20th of November, 1947. The silk fabric for her dress was purchased with ration coupons since there was still rationing in Britain due to the ravages of the war. Her gown was designed by Norman Hartnell. On the day of her wedding, while getting dressed the tiara broke! Luckily it was fixed in time for the ceremony!
Italian Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria, was born on September 11, 1937 in Forte dei Marmi, Italy. The daughter of a World War I flying ace, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, she became Paola, Princess of Belgium when married the then Prince Albert of Liege in Brussels on the 2nd of July,1959. Her dress was made of satin with a 5 meter long train! The dress had a bow at the waist accessorized with a brooch. Her veil, which was her grandmother’s, was made from Brussels lace.
Above: Paola, Princess of Belgium became Queen of Beligium in 1993 when her husband ascended the throne.
Michiko Shoda was born on the 20th of October 1934 in Tokyo, Japan, the daughter of Hidesaburo Shoda, President and Chairman of the Nisshin Flour Milling Company and his wife Fumiko Soejima. Although Michiko came from a wealthy background she was still a commoner and thus made history as the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Royal Family. She and Crown Prince Akihito met on a tennis court in 1957 and were married on the 10th of April 1959. In the tradition of Japanese royal weddings, Michiko wore a 12 layer silk kimono (pictured below), which would have cost over $100,000 today.
Pictured below: Although it is rumoured that her mother-in-law was brutal, Princess Michiko, now Empress Michiko was very popular with the Japanese people. She had a real flair and and presence about her and made it to the International Best Dressed list.
Part two of royal weddings will be posted soon and will include the weddings of Princess Margaret, Grace Kelly, Zara Phillips, Charlene Wittstock, Sinaitakala Fakafanua, Mary Donaldson, Diana Spencer and more!
All the best,