From Queen Victoria to Meghan Markle – we take a look at the royal brides through the ages

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

The understated yet stunning gown was designed by Givenchy and was rounded off with a veil that featured flower embroidery to represent all the Commonwealth nations.

We take a look at how the royal brides’ dresses have changed over the last century. 

Queen Victoria – married in 1840

According to TIME, Queen Victoria is thought to have started the tradition of brides wearing white on their wedding day.

But her reason for doing so wasn’t to symbolise purity. Queen Victoria donned a white gown to show off the lace on her dress, which was made of silk and satin.

The queen, who was marrying Prince Albert, demanded no one else wear white to her wedding and had the pattern of her wedding dress destroyed afterwards so it wouldn’t be replicated.

The Queen Mother (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon) – married in 1923

Wearing a drop-waist pearl and silver thread-embroidered silk gown, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon married King George VI in 1923.

The dress was designed by Madame Handley Seymour, a former court dressmaker for Queen Mary.

Her head was covered in a Juliet lace cap because tiaras weren’t common back then.

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor – married in 1937

The twice-divorced American socialite, whose marriage to Edward, Duke of Windsor, caused quite a scandal, donned a silk crepe dress by Mainbocher.

The dress was dyed Wallis Blue, a colour the designer said matched Wallis’ famous light blue eyes.

The bride wore a Caroline Reboux hat instead of a veil.

Edward abdicated to marry his Wallis forcing his brother, Albert (later King George VI), to take over the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II – married in 1947

When the queen and Prince Phillip married, World War II had just ended two years earlier, which meant she had to purchase the material for her dress using coupons.

The dress, which featured silk from China, was designed by Norman Hartnell and had 10 000 seed pearls sewn into the floral design.

 It took 350 women seven weeks to make.

Her something-borrowed was the silver, diamond and gold tiara she paired with her veil. The Fringe Tiara belonged to Queen Mary and the queen borrowed it from her mother, Queen Elizabeth I. It broke the morning of the wedding and had to be hastily repaired by a jeweller before the ceremony.

Her satin shoes were created by Edward Rayne.

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon – married in 1960

The Queen’s youngest sister married fashion photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in a dress by the same designer who created her eldest sister’s dress 13 years earlier.

 Margaret’s dress had very little embellishment, but her dramatic silhouette style required close to 30 metres of fabric.

Her veil was complemented with a Poltimore tiara.

Princess Anne – married in 1973

The queen’s only daughter wed her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips in a high-neck gown with dramatic trumpet sleeves by Maureen Baker of Susan Small.

Her veil was held in place by the same tiara her mother had worn on her wedding day.

Diana, Princess of Wales – married in 1981

Her wedding dress with its puffed-sleeves and seven-metre train remains one of the most iconic wedding looks in history. It was designed by the then husband and wife duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

Her something old was a piece of Queen Mary’s lace, which she incorporated into the ivory silk material of the dress.

The something new was the dress itself and something blue was a small bow sewn into the waist of her dress.

Her sparkly tiara served as something borrowed – it has belonged to her family since the 18th century.

Sarah, Duchess of York – 1986

When she married Prince Andrew in 1986 Sarah Ferguson wore an ivory duchesse satin gown designed by Lindka Cierach.

The couple later divorced in 1996.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex married in 1999

Sophie Rhys-Jones married the queen’s youngest child Prince Edward in St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will say their vows on Saturday.

Her dress was designed by Samantha Shaw and featured 325 000 crystals and pearls.

Her tiara was from the queen’s private collection. The black and white pearl necklace and earrings she wore were designed by her husband as a wedding gift. The jewellery and tiara were made by Asprey and Garrard.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – married in 2005

Prince Charles married his second wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, in 2005. She wore an embroidered pale blue and gold coat over a matching chiffon gown. It was designed by Robinson Valentine.

Her gold feathered hat was created by Philip Treacy.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – married in 2011

Her wedding gown was one of the most highly-anticipated dresses in royal wedding history.

In fact, so much hype surrounded Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, even the designer was kept a secret until the day she walked down the aisle with Prince William.

Kate’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. It had a V-neckline, a train just more than two metres long and a Victorian-inspired corset.

She wore the queen's Cartier halo tiara and Robinson Pelham diamond earrings.


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