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Royal wedding dresses compared – from Kate Middleton and Meghan Markles to Diana and Sarah Fergusons


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Take a look at royal wedding dresses through the years – including Sarah Fergusons, Kate Middletons, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margarets (Picture: Getty)

Royal wedding dresses will always capture the nations imagination and attention, having been something of a public obsession for decades.

With Princess Eugenies wedding just days away, here we take a look back at the most iconic royal wedding dresses of recent time.

Starting with the Queen Mother, cast your eyes over the most iconic bridal gowns from Princess Margarets to Diana, Princess of Wales, to Kate Midletons, Zara Tindalls and Meghan Markles.

The question is: how will Eugenies compare?

Here is our rundown of all of the royal wedding dresses since the Queen Mothers wedding…

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Wedding: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Date: Thursday 26 April 1923

26th April 1923: The wedding of the Duke of York (1895 – 1952), later George VI, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (1900 – 2002). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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.

26th April 1923: Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900 – 2002) leaves her home for her wedding to the Duke of York, the future King George VI. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

26th April 1923: The marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York at Westminster Abbey, London. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

26th April 1923: The Duke and Duchess of York on their marriage day, later becoming King George VI (1895 – 1952) and Queen Elizabeth (1900 – 2002). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

26th April 1923: King George V of Great Britain (right) and Queen Mary on the wedding day of their son George, later King George VI, to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900 – 2002). With them are the Earl and Countess of Stramore (left). Original Artist: By Elliott & Fry. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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, now Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip leave Westminster Abbey, London after their wedding on 20th November 1947. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

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.

20th November 1947: Queen Elizabeth II (as Princess Elizabeth) with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their wedding day in Westminster Abbey, London. Original Publication: Picture Post – 4438 – Royal Wedding – pub. 1947 (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)

20th November 1947: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace, London, after their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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.

Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, arrives with her father, King George VI for her wedding to Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey, London on 20th November 1947. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images).

2nd June 1953: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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.

Princess Margaret

Wedding: Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret

Date: Friday 6 May 1960

Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

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.

British Royalty, London, England, 6th May 1960, H,R,H,Princess Margaret leaves for Westminster Abbey, accompanied by her father The Duke of Edinburgh, to be married to Anthony Armstrong-Jones (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Princess Margaret is accompanied by her brother-in-law Prince Philip during her wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminister Abbey.

6th May 1960: Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002) and Antony Armstrong-Jones on their wedding day at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Princess Margaret and her new husband Antony Armstrong Jones pose for a picture with their bridesmaids at Buckingham Palace, 6th May 1960. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The newly-wed Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Britains Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband, the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones wave 06 May 1960 (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

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 on her wedding day with her husband Mark Phillips, her younger brother Prince Edward, and cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

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.

(Original Caption) London, England: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey blesses Prince Anne and Captain Mark Phillips during their wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips walk down the aisle together after being married at Westminster Cathedral. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The wedding of Anne, Princess Royal to Mark Phillips, London, UK, 14th November 1973. Also pictured are Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Viscount Linley, Katharine, Duchess of Kent, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Constantine II of Greece, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and King Harald V of Norway and Queen Sonja of Norway. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Original Caption) London, England: Princes Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips share a laugh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding.

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

The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St Pauls Cathedral in London, 29th July 1981. The couple leave the cathedral after the ceremony. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: Lady Diana Spencer Arriving With Her Father, Earl Spencer, At St Pauls Cathedral For Her Wedding To Prince Charles. Lady Diana (princess Of Wales) Is Making Her Way Up The Stairs Whilst Her Bridesmaids Straighten Her Long Train (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

29th July 1981: Charles, Prince of Wales, with his wife, Princess Diana (1961 – 1997), at St Pauls Cathedral, London, during their marriage ceremony. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: Princess Diana And Prince Charles Walking Down The Aisle Of St Pauls In London On Their Wedding Day With Their Bridesmaids And Pageboys (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

The Prince and Princess of Wales leave St Pauls Cathedral on their wedding day, 29th July 1981. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

The Prince and Princess of Wales return to Buckingham Palace by carriage after their wedding, 29th July 1981. She wears a wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and the Spencer family tiara. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

GREAT BRITAIN – JULY 29: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales whispering to Diana, Princess of Wales on their wedding day as they appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

LONDON – JULY 29: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding on July 29, 1981 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

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

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson wave outside of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day, London, England, July 23, 1986. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 23: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and wave at their wedding on July 23, 1986 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

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

Edward and Saphie, the new Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day in Windsor on June 19, 1999. at the Windsor in Windsor, United Kingdom. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

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.

Edward and Saphie, the new Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day in Windsor on June 19, 1999. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones wave to wellwishers 19 June 1999 as they leave St. Georges Chapel after their marriage at Windsor Castle. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read GERRY PENNY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Duchess Of Cambridge

Wedding: Prince William, Duke Of Cambridge and Kate Middleton, Duchess Of Cambridge

Date: Friday 29 April 2011

Catherine Middleton shows her Alexander McQueen dress in full for the first time outside Westminster Abbey (Picture: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

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.

The stunning dress featured delicate lace (Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Pippa carried Kates train as they leave Westminster Abbey (Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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.

Sarah Burton arranges Kates dress just before she walked down the aisle (Picture: Jon Bond – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The dress designer also created Pippas gown (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Prince William and Kate Middleton emerge from Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony (Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Zara Phillips

Wedding: Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

Date: Saturday 30 July 2011

Zara Phillips departs for her wedding to Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk on July 30, 2011 (Picture: Getty)

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.

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall after their wedding at Canongate Kirk (Picture: Getty)

Zaras wedding gown (Picture: Philip Ide – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britains Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is pictured after her wedding to England rugby player Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 30, 2011. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

England rugby player Mike Tindall (L) and his new bride Britains Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, leave after their wedding ceremony at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 30, 2011. AFP PHOTO / DYLAN MARTINEZ/POOL (Photo credit should read DYLAN MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall

Wedding: Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall

Date: Saturday 9 April 2005

Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (Photo by Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage)

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.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND – APRIL 09: TRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, depart the Civil Ceremony where they were legally married, at The Guildhall, Windsor on April 9, 2005 in Berkshire, England. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall (Photo by Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage)

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.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 9: Clarence House official handout photo of the Prince of Wales and his new bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle April 9 2005, after their wedding ceremony. (Photo by Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images)

(Picture: Getty Images)

Meghan Markle

Wedding: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Date: Saturday 19 May 2018

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, at St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle (Picture: PA)

After months of speculation over who the designer of Meghan Markles wedding dress is, it was finally revealed on her wedding day.

Not Ralph & Russo, Erdem or Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, the designer of Meghans dress is Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy.

Opting for a 1960s-style, off the shoulder gown by the first female artistic director of the French fashion house, Meghan looked stunning in her white gown.

Meghans chosen a clean classic high bateau neckline, which is beautifully demure. Bridebook.co.uk told Metro.co.uk.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (9685436en) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Ceremony, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, UK - 19 May 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry emerge after their wedding (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after their wedding ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Owen Humphreys/pool photo via AP)

Harry takes Meghans hand as they walk back down the aisle (Picture: WPA Rota)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (9685436gl) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Ceremony, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, UK - 19 May 2018

Meghan Markles dress was designed by Givenchy (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Meghans dress is incredibly theatrical and exquisitely cut with an embroidered cathedral length handmade tulle veil. It is A-line with a relatively short train of about 70 inches from the waist, resulting in lovely movement as the bride walks.

There are no seams in the bodice. Incredibly clean and plain dresses such as this are VERY time consuming and complicated to make, because unlike a lace dress, there is no room for any errors and you cant hide any wrinkles as the fabric has to sit perfectly.

Around 250 members of the Armed Forces are making their final preparations in Windsor today ahead of the ceremonies at the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle. The Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force are all providing ceremonial support to mark the occasion. Units that hold a special relationship with Prince Harry were chosen at the request of Kensington Palace. Some of the troops performing ceremonial duties today served alongside Prince Harry during his ten years in the Army. From 9.30am this morning, the Band of the Irish Guards entertained crowds as they gathered to watch events unfold around Windsor. The State Trumpeters of the Band of the Household Cavalry will play fanfares in St George?s Chapel to mark the arrival of HM The Queen and Ms Meghan Markle ahead of the wedding service.

(Picture: PA)

When you have a clean dress like that the bride really shines. You have to be very beautiful to wear a plain dress. Meghans face really pops out, and she looks stunning. It is possibly zibeline silk or micado fabric.

Meghans dress featured a cathedral train and she wore Queen Marys filigree tiara, which was last worn in the 1800s.

Will Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall ever be Queen?

There's much talk over what Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall's name will be when Charles ascends the throne.

On their wedding day, Clarence House revealed that when Charles becomes King, presuming he will not abdicate, Camilla will become known as Princess Consort.

Traditionally, as dictated by English common law, the wife of the ruling monarch is called Queen Consort: Kate Middleton will be known as when William ascends the throne.

A Queen Consort shares her husband's social rank and status, although not his military or political powers.

There is no historical or legal reason why Camilla would be known as Princess Consort and this year, Clarence House removed the statement dictating this, suggesting she will, after all, be known as Queen Consort.

A Queen Consort can take the title of Queen, so Camilla would become known as Queen Camilla.

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.

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank will tie the knot at St Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle on Friday 12 October.

MORE: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle prepare to move into renovated Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace

MORE: Who is Jack Brooksbank – age, parents, job and his dream of owning a chain of pubs with Princess Eugenie



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