Royals

Sleeves, boat necks and instant cult followings: The best royal wedding dresses in history

Radiant, ravishing, and oh-so regal - there's a reason why these royal brides have set the precedent for bridal fashion.
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Just utter the words “royal wedding” and you can bet you’ll be met with plentiful prickling ears and turning heads.

Every single time a royal wedding rolls around, people across the world flock to see every last detail, from the low-down on the bride or groom making the daring choice to marry into the regal fold, to the identities of their very carefully picked bridal party.

But perhaps more so than anything else, one of the most hyped and hotly anticipated feats to occur during any royal wedding is the big wedding dress reveal.

In the months leading to the big day, the bets are on as people speculate and envision exactly what the bride will wear.

Will it be modest with sleeves? Feminine with lace? Glamorous with bejewelled embroidery throughout?

Whatever the expectation, you can guarantee the royals have seen and done it all when it comes to bridal fashion, which is exactly why we can’t get enough of the archived pictures that showcase the lot of it.

Here, we celebrate the humble art of nailing a royal wedding gown with all the best dresses from the ceremonies we’ve been privy to witnessing over the years.

Keep scrolling for a regal fashion feast of the eyes…

Instagram/German Larkin

Kitty spencer

She’s not technically a royal, but Lady Kitty Spencer deserves a spot on this list after donning not one but five wedding dresses when she tied the knot in July, 2021. Daughter to Earl Charles Spencer, Lady Kitty is Princess Diana’s niece, and she wed fashion tycoon Michael Lewis, 62, in a series of show-stopping gowns. Designed exclusively by luxury fashion house Dolce and Gabbana, her most traditional dress (pictured) was the crowning glory.

Instagram/German Larkin

Kitty spencer walk

Her classic bridal gown featured long sleeves, a structured bodice and high neckline, with lace covering her from head to toe. It bore a striking resemblance to Duchess Catherine’s own lace wedding dress, and had small puff sleeves reminiscent of the more over-the-top ones on Princess Diana’s wedding gown. Lady Kitty was also inspired by her own mother, Victoria Aitken, and drew on design elements from her wedding dress from 1989.

Instagram/Princess Eugenie

Princess beatrice

Princess Beatrice surprised everyone when she wed Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July 2020 at a secret ceremony. Rather than buying a new, designer gown for the big day, Beatrice donned a vintage Norman Hartnell dress, which was on loan from her grandmother The Queen. Her Majesty wore the ivory Peau De Soie taffeta gown back in 1967 for the State Opening of Parliament.

Instagram/Princess Eugenie

Princess beatrice details

Featuring organza sleeves and encrusted with diamantés, the dress was remodelled and fitted by one of the Queen’s favourite designers, Miss Angela Kelly as well as Mr Stewart Parvin especially for Beatrice’s wedding day. Beatrice also borrowed a tiara from the Queen for her wedding day, donning the Queen Mary diamond fringe tiara, which Her Majesty wore on her own wedding day to Prince Philip in 1947.

Princess Eugenie

On October 12, 2018, Princess Eugenie wed her long time love Jack Brooksbank in a beautiful ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor (the very same place Meghan and Harry married just a few months prior). While the spectacle itself was one for the ages, Eugenie’s unique V-neck dress, designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos generated more buzz than ever.

Eugenie 2

Making a powerful statement: The back of the gorgeous dress featured a deep V-cut that showed off her scar, which came from scoliosis surgery she underwent at age 12 – a personal and unique move from the Princess.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle’s incredible wedding dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, was one for the history books. Its elegant boat neck and modest silhouette took away the breath of thousands upon thousands of royal watchers who were glued to the day’s broadcast from St George’s chapel.

Meghan veil

And you can’t look past that veil, which was later revealed to have symbols from all 54 Commonwealth countries embroidered in it – a sweet nod to Harry’s family legacy.

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The Moment Kate Middleton Hands Meghan Markle Her Wedding Bouquet

Meghan Stella McCartney

And for good measure, we couldn’t not include Meghan’s stunning reception dress, which was designed by British talent Stella McCartney. And thus, high-necked frocks were all the rage in the months (and years!) to come.

Beatrice Borromeo

Beatrice Borromeo’s wedding in 2015 sent a pleasant shock through the royal community when she stepped out to marry Pierre Casiraghi, Grace Kelly’s grandson, in beautiful pink gown.

It was a shock because, up until this point, brides marrying into or within royal families were expected to keep to the traditional standard of wedding-wear set down by Queen Victoria of England: white, modest and topped with a tiara.

Whilst Beatrice’s Valentino Couture gown was modest enough, it was neither white nor tiara-adorned – quite unusual for a royal bride.

Kate Middleton

You’ll be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t seen this dress. Catherine Middleton wore a custom Alexander McQueen gown for her wedding to Prince William. For her tiara, she borrowed the Queen’s Halo Scroll tiara.

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Kate Middleton’s Wedding Dress Revealed

Diana

Diana Spencer’s silk tafetta gown embodied the 80s: big, puffy with bows, pearls and embroidery – oh, and a 25-foot train. Diana wore her family’s heirloom tiara, the Spencer Tiara.

Fergie

For her wedding to Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson wore an ivory-silk wedding grown designed by Lindka Cierach, with a tiara she chose from jewellers, Gerrards, that was purchased by the Queen.

Grace Kelly

Often called the “most beautiful wedding dress of all time”, Grace Kelly’s Helen Rose gown was made of silk organza and lace. She wore a Juliet cap instead of a tiara.

Sofia of Sweden

Sofia Hellqvist chose this lace gown with a full skirt for her wedding to Prince Carl Philip of Sweden earlier this year. She wore the dress with a brand new tiara given to her by her parents-in-law.

Charles & Camilla

For his second marriage, Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, chose this pale blue and gold embroidered coat-gown with a feathered headpiece.

Queen & Philip

Using rations to buy the materiel for her dress, Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth, wore a silk and lace gown with circular embroidery. She wore her grandmother’s Fringe Tiara to match.

Margaret

Her sister’s gown, for her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, has been called the “simplest royal wedding gown in history”. Her wedding tiara, however, was anything but simple. She wore the gigantic Poltimore Tiara.

Charlene

Charlene Wittstock married Prince Albert of Monaco in a Giorgio Armani silk gown with a boat neck collar. She did not wear any headpieces at all.

Sophie Wessex

Sophie Rhys-Jones wore a Samantha Shaw organza silk dress with long sleeves for her wedding to Prince Edward. She borrowed a tiara from the Queen for the occasion.

Princess Mary

Princess Mary, nee Mary Donaldson, chose a Danish designer, Uffe Frank, to make her dress and was given a brand new tiara from her new parents-in-law.

Crown Prince Haakon

Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, a single mother, married Crown Prince Haakon in a silk crepe gown with a 20-foot veil. Instead of a traditional bouquet, Mette-Marit carried a “stream of flowers”. She wore the Dynasty Daisy tiara.

Queen Maxima

Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, later Queen Maxima, wore a structured ivory Valentino gown for her wedding, with the Pearl Button tiara, topped with diamond stars.

Princess Madeleine

Princess Madeleine of Sweden also wore a Valentino gown. Hers featured an off the shoulder lace neckline with a full lace skirt. She wore the Modern Fringe Tiara.

Crown Princess Victoria

Her elder sister, Crown Princess Victoria’s gown was much more traditional. Made of duchess silk and designed by Pär Engsheden, it came with a five meter long train. She wore her family’s heirloom tiara, the Cameo Tiara, which all the women in her family have worn at their weddings. As for her off-shoulder design? We can’t help but notice a dead similarity to one Meghan Markle…!

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