Royal wedding dress obsession is something of an institution
Its a public prerogative: a royal engagement is announced and the next few months are spent speculating, predicting and daydreaming about the royal brides dress.
Will she wear white? Will she go for an on-trend colour? Will she go with her designer friends creation or will she stick to a royal-approved bridal team? Will she take inspiration from a previous royal gown?
Limited details surrounding Meghans dress were revealed at the weekend, with reports suggesting she will be wearing a £100,000 Ralph & Russo gown with lace, embellishment and plenty of pearls. However, we wont actually find out until Meghan emerges on the morning of Saturday 19 May for all the world to see.
While we wait with fevered anticipation, here are some of the royal wedding dresses of time gone by to lust over…
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Wedding: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Date: Thursday 26 April 1923
When Prince Albert, Duke of York, soon to be King George VI, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, tied the knot, they broke from tradition and ensured their wedding was a public affair, marrying in Westminster Abbey instead of a private, royal chapel.
Their public celebration-style wedding, which is what we are now accustomed to with royal weddings, was a means of lifting the publics spirits following the First World War. It was also widely believed that Prince Albert would never take to the throne, given his brother Edward was older than him.
Why King George and not King Albert?
King George VIs first name was Albert – his full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George.
He opted to use his middle name George to rule with as, following his brother Edwards VIIIs abdication in 1936, he wanted to offer the British public a sense of continuity so, given his father was King George V, he went with George as well.
Elizabeths 1920s wedding gown was created by Madame Handley Seymouor, the dressmaker to Queen Mary, the sister of King George VI.
Made with deep ivory chiffon moire, it was embroidered with pearls and a silver thread.
Queen Mary provided the Flanders lace used for the train and the dress also featured a strip of Brussels lace, which was Elizabeths Strathmore family heirloom.
Attached to Queen Elizabeths girdle was a trail of spring green tulle. A news article at the time wrote: In the trimming the bride has defied all old superstitions about the unluckiness of green.
The details of the Queen Mothers dress were revealed ahead of her wedding, unlike the tradition nowadays of keeping the details top secret.
King George VI, meanwhile, wore RAF full dress in his senior service rank of captain.
Queen Elizabeth II
Wedding: Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II
Date: 20 November 1947
Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, Duke Of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey in 1947.
Her dress was designed by court designer Norman Hartnell, who was famous for his embroidery. He took his inspiration from flowers, such as jasmine, for the pattern on her dress.
Although she was the heir apparent at the time, she still had to buy her wedding dress with ration coupons. In fact, hundreds of members of the public sent Elizabeth their coupons to help her buy the gown, however it was not legal for her to use them so they were sent back. The government donated 200 coupons to help her.
Elizabeths dress was made of soft Damascus Prokar. It featured a high neckline, tailored bodice and, at 13 feet long, a short trail.
Much speculation surrounded her dress at the time and its understood she was worried that if the details leaked, fashion houses would copy it and she would therefore find it difficult to make last-minute alterations.
Queen Elizabeths tiara famously snapped on the morning of her wedding as she got ready at Buckingham Palace.
However, the court jeweler was on standby in case of an emergency so he was rushed to his work room by police escort and it was fixed in time for the ceremony.
Wedding: Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret
Date: Friday 6 May 1960
Princess Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in May 1960.
It was watched by 300 million people worldwide, having become the first royal wedding ever broadcast on TV.
Just like her sisters gown, her wedding dress was designed by Normal Hartnell, made from silk organza.
A total of thirty metres of fabric was used for the skirt alone and the dress won critical approval thanks to its elegant simplicity.
It was described as stunningly tailored by Vogue and Life magazine said it was the simplest royal wedding gown in history.
Some fashion critics even go as far to say it is Hartnells finest piece of work.
Anne, Princess Royal
Wedding: Mark Phillips and Princess Anne
Date: Wednesday 14 November 1973.
Princess Anne married Mark Phillips in November 1973 at Westminster Abbey.
He gown was designed by Maureen Baker, who created designs for the Susan Small label and had previously designed pieces for Anne.
The dress had a high neckline with medieval sleeves and was embroidered in what has been described as Tudor-style, with the train embroidered by Locks Embroiderers.
It was reflective of 1970s fashion and widely regarded as a simple design, which Anne helped create herself.
Diana, Princess Of Wales
Wedding: Prince Charles and Diana, Princess Of Wales
Date: Wednesday 29 July 1981
Diana, Princess Of Wales wedding dress is possibly one of the most famous gowns in the world.
It was kept top secret in the run up to her and Prince Charles wedding day, with a back-up dress even in place in case the original dress details leaked.
The ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel.
They consulted Stephen Walters of Suffolk to help with the taffeta and Maureen Baker to help with the construction.of the dress, which featured 10,000 pearls and sequins alone.
Dianas dress caused much concern for her dressmakers and seamstress as she developed the eating disorder bulimia in the run up to her wedding, dropping from a size 14 to 10.
Her train was also practically double the length of Queen Elizabeths at 25 feet long, a detail that hadnt been considered when it came to Diana making her way into the glass coach that would take her to St Pauls Cathedral. The train ended up being crushed and creases could be seen when she emerged.
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess Of York
Wedding: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess Of York
Date: Wednesday 23 July 1986
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew married in July 1986 in Westminster Abbey.
Her dress was designed by Lindka Cierach, her gown was created from duchesse satin and featured heavy beading. 17 feet.
Wedding dress fever had swept the nation so much by this point that copies of Sarahs dress were being sold in stores hours after her wedding.
Sophie, Countess Of Wessex
Wedding: Prince Edward, Earl Of Wessex and Sophie, Countess Of Wessex
Date: Saturday 19 June 1999
Sophie Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward at St Georges Chapel in June 1999.
Her dress was designed by Samantha Shaw and was made of hand-dyed silk organza and hand-dyed silk crepe.
The gown featured long sleeves and a V-neckline with 325,000 pearls and crystals sewn onto the dress.
The Duchess Of Cambridge
Wedding: Prince William, Duke Of Cambridge and Kate Middleton, Duchess Of Cambridge
Date: Friday 29 April 2011
Alexander McQueens creative director Sarah Burton was the brains behind Kates elegant – and stunning – lace bridal gown for her wedding to Prince William.
For months speculation was rife on who would be the designer and Sarah had kept a stealthy silence on the matter.
So it was only natural that everyone was clamoring for the first glimpse of Kate in her dress – even it it was shielded in part by the screens at The Goring.
As Kate finally emerged outside Westminster Abbey – with the entire world seeing her dress on TV screens before her husband-to-be had – it was confirmed that Burton was in fact the designer.
She was even on hand to neaten the train – which was 9ft long – on the day and ensure every inch of the dress looked perfect as Kate made her way down the aisle.
It later emerged that Kate and Sarah had been having secret meetings at Hampton Court Palace to discuss the dress – the location chosen due to its proximity to The Royal School Of Needlework, who created the lace for the gown.
It was so hush-hush that staff there were told that the lace they were creating was actually for a period drama.
Wedding: Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall
Date: Saturday 30 July 2011
Zara Phillips wedding dress was designed by Stewart Parvin, who was a favourite among the Royal Family.
The dress featured sheer cap sleeves, and the silk fabric gave her a flattering shape as it opened out into the skirt.
Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall
Wedding: Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall
Date: Saturday 9 April 2005
When Camilla Parker Bowles married Prince Charles in June 2005, she had not one but two wedding dresses.
The first she wore to their civil ceremony service at Guildhall, Windsor.
The second, she wore for the blessing at St Georges Chapel, which directly followed the ceremony.
Both dresses were created by Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine, who were working under the name Robinson Valentine at the time. They are now known as Anna Valentine.
For inspiration on mother of the bride outfits – or to see what the royals have previously chosen for the important role – click right here.
If you are more into your jewellery, however, check out our comparison of all of the royal engagement and wedding rings here.