With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding set for May of 2018, there’s a ton of speculation about just what kind of wedding dress the soon-to-be royal will choose. Will she opt for an Alexander McQueen as did Kate Middleton? Perhaps she’ll wear a gown that pays homage to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll go a completely different route and choose something totally untraditional — it wouldn’t be her first time breaking the royal rules, after all.
Whichever dress she ends up choosing will be talked about for years and years to come — for better or for worse. Since Queen Elizabeth I, the late Queen Mother, dresses of the royal brides have been a hot topic of discussion. Some royals have cemented their role in history with beautiful gowns and others, well, some not so beautiful gowns.
Here are the very worst to the very best royal wedding dresses.
The dress of epic proportions
Princess Diana, often still referred to as the people’s princess, was a fashion icon in so many ways. Eleri Lynn, the curator of Kensington Palace exhibition “Diana: Her Fashion Story” told Vanity Fair, “[Diana] is stepping into that same sort of space as an Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy.”
The late princess often used her fashion to send a message. According to Lynn, she wanted people to know she was approachable so she chose colorful clothing. She would also forgo gloves so she could hold people’s hands in hers — Diana was truly one of a kind.
Of course, her wedding dress had to be one of a kind as well. David Emanuel, designer of the famous dress, told Entertainment Tonight, “This dress had to be young and sweet, but it also had to be glam because she was going to be a royal princess.” And glam it was. It featured a royal record-breaking 25-foot-long train, which was embroidered by hand with pearls and sequins. The dress definitely made a statement and was emulated for decades, but it’s certainly not a dress you’d want to wear today.
A new meaning to royal blue
If you’re a fan of the Netflix series The Crown, you likely know a thing or two about King Edward VIII and his wife, Wallis Simpson. Their love story was practically made for television. According to the former king’s biography, the couple met while Simpson was married and Edward was a prince. The two entered into a relationship shortly before Edward became king.
Being king meant he wouldn’t be able to marry Simpson, the American socialite who, at this time, was now a divorcee. Less than a year after taking the throne, Edward abdicated in order to marry her. Although this didn’t exactly sit well with the royal family, Edward was given a new title — Duke of Windsor — and spent the rest of his life with the woman he loved, after marrying her in a private ceremony in France in 1937.
Pictures of the time, being in black and white, make Simpson’s dress appear white or perhaps cream. However, her dress was actually blue! According to The Telegraph, it was a simple silk Mainboucher gown in a custom color, pale blue, rightfully called “Wallis Blue.” Interesting choice, for sure.
Shoulder pads for days
Although Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson became synonymous with scandal back in the late 2000s, her royal wedding to Prince Andrew in 1986 was a blissful affair. At the time, Ferguson was a great fit to become a royal, according to Vanity Fair.
On their big day, Ferguson wore a wedding dress somewhat typical of the late ’80s. Not unlike other royal wedding gowns, her dress was copied by commoners in the following years. Lindka Cierach, an African-born British fashion designer, created the dress made of ivory satin with large — very large — shoulder pads and incorporated a ton of beading work.
Ferguson’s dress was also basically a scrapbook. There were hearts — to symbolize love? — along with anchors and waves, which represented Andrew’s naval career. That sounds like a lot already but there were also beaded bumblebees and thistles to represent Ferguson’s family crest and the train — the 17-foot-long train — featured the couple’s initials. Eek.
Part wedding gown, part turtleneck?
The 1970s was a fascinating and bold time for fashion. Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth’s only daughter, could chalk up her wedding dress choice to the time period, considering she married Captain Mark Phillips back in 1973. The decade may be, at least, partially to blame. Nonetheless, Anne’s gown was still pretty peculiar, especially in retrospect.
According to Express, the princess chose a design by Maureen Baker, who, at the time, was the head designer for the brand Susan Small. The Tudor-style gown featured piping on the bodice, which is a bit reminiscent of a ribbed knit sweater, don’t you think? The gown’s “high neck” — essentially a turtleneck — didn’t exactly help to make the frock look less like a sweater. Lastly, the ballooned Medieval sleeves tapered at the wrists were another interesting choice. All things considered, the dress managed to be quite flattering and the princess still looked stunning on her wedding day.
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