Every Royal Wedding Dress In British History
Fascination with royal weddings is at an all-time high, thanks to Meghan Markle's upcoming ceremony. The former Suits actress will soon become British royalty, as if her life was something straight out of a fairy tale. Fans are most excited to see the beautiful white number Markle will don. But before thoughts of her gown ever came into question, there were dozens of immaculate royal wedding dresses to come before hers.
Considering all eyes are on the bride during her big day, a wedding dress is perhaps the most important element of an unforgettable ceremony — and there's nothing like the dresses draped onto the bodies of the UK's real deal royals. Featuring extravagant trains, intricate embellishments, and the prettiest lace details, their wedding dresses are never short of stunning. With access to the crown jewels and the industry's best designers on call, it's no wonder royal brides always dazzle.
Now that Meghan Markle is next up to get her solo down the church aisle, it's worth diving into the British royal wedding archives. Just the thing to get you excited for the May 19 nuptials, a glimpse at the family's most iconic wedding attire will give you all the feels.
Prince Albert Edward and Princess Alexandra
Travel back to 1863, when Queen Victoria's eldest son, Albert Edward of Wales, married Princess Alexandra of Denmark, and you'll discover a lavishly decorated gown. A silk satin dress, featuring a petticoat of orange blossom trimmings, myrtle, puffs of tulle, and Honiton lace, it was quite the spectacle.
Prince George and Princess Victoria Mary
Bride to Prince George, Prince Albert Edward's son, Victoria Mary of Teck wed in 1893 in a garment trimmed with ostrich feathers and orange blossoms. If ever there was a extremely detailed gown, it was hers, its white satin lined with silver and fine Honiton lace.
Princess Alice and Prince Alexander
Taking place in 1904, Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Alice, had a wedding at Windsor Castle that was highlighted by a lace-clad gown. Unlike the dresses that predated hers, it did not have a court train, despite having the same traditional orange blossom and myrtle trimmings.
Princess Margaret and Prince Gustavus Adolphus
Yet another granddaughter of Queen Victoria wed in a lovely dress. In 1905, Princess Margaret cascaded down the aisle in a sweeping gown full of lace details. She was quite a vision in white.
Princess Patricia and Commander Alexander Ramsay
Princess Patricia of Connaught, Princess Margaret's younger sister, tied the knot in 1919 in a sleek, embellished gown that differed from her predecessors. Opting out of the floral trimmings, the wedding dress complimented her lengthy veil perfectly.
Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles
Great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of Prince George, Princess Mary, said "I do" in 1922 at Westminster Abbey in an ivory silk gown. Of course, it was embroidered immaculately as this is British royalty we're talking here.
Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
In 1923, Lady Elizabeth wore a gown that featured pearl and silver thread detailing during her ceremony with Princess Mary's brother, Prince Albert. An ivory chiffon dress with two trains, Lady Elizabeth's gown departed from the traditional white satin gown worn by British royalty.
Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson
When it came to Wallis Simpson, bride to Prince Albert's older brother, Prince Edward, less was more. The bride wore a pale blue silk gown in 1937 that didn't need the fancy schmancy embellishments to be beautiful. The dress' hue was even custom made and dubbed "Wallis blue".
Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten
All hail the Queen — Queen Elizabeth, that is. Long before she took the throne, the Queen married in 1947 at Westminster Abbey in an ivory silk gown embroidered with crystal beads and white seed pearls. The garment was as lavish as it gets with a full 13-foot court train, patterned with stars and decorated with pearls.
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
Fast forward to 1960 and you'll discover Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, Princess Margaret dazzling in the first royal gown to be broadcast on television. The princess wore a silk organza dress designed by the same royal couturier, Norman Hartnell, that created the wedding garment worn by her big sis. Embellishments were minimal, making for such a simple, yet elegant gown.
Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy
Princess Alexandra of Kent's wedding dress made its debut in 1963. The daughter of Prince George and Queen Elizabeth's cousin married in a sleek silhouette with a cascading train. The dress featured lace — and more lace — as the material was layered over white tulle and added to the edges of the neckline and cuffs. Photos don't do it any justice, though, as delicate, gold embroidery underneath the lace allowed the gown to shimmer as the princess moved.
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips
Well, well, well, if it isn't Queen Elizabeth's only daughter marrying in 1973 in a Tudor-style wedding dress featuring a high collar and medieval sleeves. The train capped at seven feet and the veil was quite simple, but Princess Anne looking absolutely stunning, nonetheless.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
Princess Diana's dress of endless fabric could barely fit in the carriage that drove she and Prince Charles to the alter in 1981. The ivory taffeta gown was about as grandiose as they come, embroidered with sequins, frilled lace, and 10,000 pearls. Wearing a veil that was longer than the dress' train, Princess Di clearly took it over the top on her big day.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
In 1986, Princess Diana's brother-in-law married Sarah Ferguson, who wed in an ivory satin dress that featured an embellished bodice, three quarter length sleeves, and a 17-foot train. Accented with bows, bees, thistles, waves, and anchors for symbolism, not a single detail went unnoticed on this lavish gown that even had the couple's initials sewn into the train.
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones
A dress made of ivory silk organza with crepe and tulle, Sophie Rhys-Jones' wedding ensemble in 1999 was picture-perfect. The garment seemed to pay homage to the Middle Ages, featuring a fitted, V-neck bodice and sleeves with fluted cuffs that had a medieval air. Although it didn't appear to be as embellished as the gowns belonging to previous royal brides, it did have a whopping 325,000 pearls and crystal beads embroidered into subtle patterns.
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly
Princess Anne's son tied the knot with Autumn Kelly in 2008, and the nuptials birth the satin and Chantilly lace gown the bride wore beautifully. Its waist was accented by a three-tiered sash and the bride topped the garment off with a beaded bolero made from Chantilly lace to cove her shoulders.
Prince William and Kate Middleton
On the long list of most iconic royal wedding dresses, Kate Middleton's gown would be at the top of the list. In 2011, Prince William's bride wore an Alexander McQueen head-turner whose handmade lace appliqué on the skirt and bodice stole the show. Hand-cut lace flowers also made it onto the ivory silk tulle of the dress, making it one stunning garment.
Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall
Yet another royal to marry in 2011, Zara Phillips, Princess Anne's only daughter, wed in a corseted white silk gown. Layers of lace underneath the skirt gave the simple garment volume. Although it opted out of the usual frills and lace details common amongst British royal wedding dresses, the gown was quite the vision.
Very soon, it'll be time for Meghan Markle to have her big moment in white, too. She's already quite the fashionista, so her gown will likely make the royal best-dressed list. hands down.