Like a coronation, royal weddings stir the senses and stoke the imagination. Below, a list of major royal weddings throughout the generations:
› February 10th, 1840 – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
› March 10th, 1863 – Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark
› July 6th, 1893 – Prince George and Princess Mary of Teck
› April 26th, 1923 – Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
› November 20th, 1947 – Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten
› July 29th, 1981 – Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer (div. 1996)
›› April 9th, 2005 – Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla (Shand) Parker-Bowles
Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton – The Prince and Princess of Wales
Prince William, the eldest son of King Charles III and the late Diana Spencer, married Miss Catherine Middleton on April 29th, 2011.
For their engagement press conference, Kate wore a rich blue dress to compliment her sparkling ring – the iconic sapphire which had previously belonged to William’s mother. The Prince proposed to Kate with the ring while vacationing in Kenya, saying that this was his way of keeping Diana close while they celebrated this special time in their lives. Their wedding was held in the ancient Westminster Abbey in London, and the day culminated in the famous kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Kate’s gown was created by Sarah Burton, the head of the Alexander McQueen design team. It featured intricate lace applique on the bodice and sleeves with a high waist and a full, embroidered train.
The Cambridge title had not been in use for some time, and it has seen several recreations over successive generations. The title was originally created in 1660 for Charles Stuart, eldest son of James II/VII. Fore more about ducal titles, see the Dukedoms page.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III bestowed the title of Prince of Wales on William, which made Catherine Princess of Wales.
Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten (Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh)
The wedding of the century came when the heiress presumptive to the throne married Prince Philip of Greece. Princess Elizabeth, who would one day become Queen Elizabeth II, married her handsome prince in Westminster Abbey on November 20th, 1947.
Described by Winston Churchill as a “bright ray of colour on the hard gray road we have to travel”, the wedding was the first royal celebration following World War II. People were still limited as to what they could buy and eat, yet many would send Elizabeth their clothing coupons so that their Princess could have the most beautiful wedding gown imaginable. There were even gifts of food from abroad, and hundreds of pairs of stockings – a rarity during the war.
Norman Hartnell designed the wedding gown (he would also design Elizabeth’s coronation gown a few years later). The wedding dress was a rich ivory color and made of duchesse satin with white seed pearls, silver thread, sparkling crystals, and transparent appliqué tulle embroidery. Flowing from the bride’s head was a silk tulle veil, and on her feet were ivory duchesse satin high-heeled sandals, trimmed with silver and seed pearl buckles.
Below we see an image of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding tiara. The Fringe tiara was also used by Princess Anne for her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips.
There had been a last-minute panic – as is the case for many brides – when the fringe tiara snapped and had to be quickly repaired. Then, the bouquet went missing and the princess did not have the pearl necklace she wanted to wear. It had been a wedding gift from her parents King George VI and the Queen.
While the ladies went dashing about in search of the bouquet – soon found in a cold cupboard – a quick thinking courtier went running back to the palace where the wedding gifts were laid out on display. He found the pearl necklace and quickly ran back to present the dear jewels to Princess Elizabeth.
At last, the princess, with tiara, necklace, and bouquet in hand, got into the state coach and headed to Westminster Abbey to unite with her betrothed.
Prince Harry of Wales and Miss Meghan Markle – Duke and Duchess of Sussex
May 19th, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
The large, arched entrance to St. George’s Chapel was immersed in a beautiful floral display, which continued into the church itself. The elegant creation was the work of floral designer Philippa Craddock. It was a beautiful May day for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It was certainly an unusual royal wedding – Meghan’s only family was her mother, Doria. No other family members on either side were in attendance. Due to health issues, her father Thomas did not give her away. Instead, Meghan walked halfway down the aisle alone. Then, arm in arm with Prince (now King) Charles, her new father-in-law, she was escorted the rest of the way to the altar.
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones
The marriage of HRH Princess Margaret to Anthony Armstrong-Jones was celebrated May 6th, 1960. Their engagement announcement and subsequent nuptials had come hot on the heels of a letter from Captain Peter Townsend.
Townsend had been Margaret’s great love. The Palace and the Government did not deem him a suitable husband for a princess, however, so Townsend had been sent abroad to Brussels as a diplomatic attache to keep him at a distance. He wrote to Margaret a few years later to tell her that he was engaged to a Belgian tobacco heiress and that they would soon marry. Upset at the news, Margaret turned to her friend and lover Armstrong-Jones. They announced their own engagement in February 1960.
Princess Margaret’s engagement ring was a ruby, created in the style of a rose in honor of her middle name. The only other royal to become engaged with a ruby was Sarah Ferguson, the now ex-wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
The Princess’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, the favored couturier of Margaret’s sister the Queen. The gown was made from silk organza, and the skirt of the gown was comprised of 30 meters of fabric. Crystal embellishments and beading were kept at a minimum in order to better suit Margaret’s petite frame. Hartnell did not want the gown to overwhelm the princess’ classic beauty.
The Poltimore tiara sat regally upon Margaret’s dark hair. Like many of the tiaras in the Royal Family, it was seen in several alternative forms such as a diamond fringe necklace and as brooches.
The wedding of the Queen’s only daughter on November 14, 1973, was held at Westminster Abbey.
Princess Anne became engaged to Captain Mark Phillips soon after meeting at a party for competitive equestrians. Her engagement ring was a triple stone – two diamonds flanking a sapphire.
For the wedding, Anne wore her hair was swept up in her typical bouffant style, topped with the Queen’s fringe tiara. Anne’s medieval-style gown featured large, full sleeves and a high collar that gave the princess a unique and romantic look. Captain Phillips was offered a title upon the occasion of the wedding, but he turned it down. Their children, Peter and Zara, do not hold titles and do not perform royal duties.
Sadly, Anne and Mark divorced in 1992. Anne married Royal Navy Commander Timothy Laurence that same year in a small ceremony in Scotland. Like Mark, Tim was not titled; however he was awarded the Royal Victorian Order by his mother-in-law, the Queen.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
The wedding that went down in fairytale history was that of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, then the Prince of Wales. Their engagement was announced on February 24th, 1981. Surrounded by the press within the Buckingham Palace gardens, Diana showed off her enormous sapphire engagement ring, surrounded by fourteen smaller diamonds. Just a few months later on July 29th, Lady Diana became HRH The Princess of Wales at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Diana’s gown was ivory silk, created by British husband and wife designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. It was created to look like the consummate fairytale gown in a pouffy, “meringue” style. Diana wore the Spencer family tiara.
The young girl’s nerves were apparent as she recited her husband’s names in the wrong order. Instead of calling him “Charles Philip Arthur George”, she accidentally said “Philip Charles Arthur George”. Prince Andrew quipped, “She’s just married my father!”
As the new Prince and Princess of Wales departed St. Paul’s Cathedral, Diana’s 25-foot train rippled behind her down the staircase. It was truly the wedding of the century.
Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston
Gabriella, the daughter of Prince Michael of Kent, married financier Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel May 18th, 2019. Ella, as she is known, is a freelance writer and is also a singer-songwriter.
Italian designer Luisa Beccaria created the lace wedding gown for the radiant Ella, whose blonde hair was swept back into an elegant chignon a la Kate Middleton. Atop her veil was a fringe tiara – not the Queen’s, but rather a similar fringe from Ella’s grandmother, Princess Marina of Kent. Known as the Kent City of London Fringe tiara, it was worn by Ella’s grandmother, aunt, and mother.
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones
Prince Edward married his longtime girlfriend Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. Their wedding took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the ancient Norman fortress built by William the Conqueror.
Sophie chose British designer Samantha Shaw to create a coat dress made of ivory silk organza and silk crepe. It had full-length sleeves and thousands of little crystals and pearls stitched along the neckline.
Sophie’s tiara was a gift from the Queen, and her pearl jewelry was created for her by her new husband, Prince Edward.