Royal bride avaRoyals, especially royal women, often are the fashion icons for millions of people. And a royal bridal gown must be outstanding and meaningful. Every element of the wedding dress is meticulously thought-out and concerted with tradition, rules, and fashion laws. But still, the royal brides have a certain freedom of choice as to what to wear on their big day. Some of these choices are great, others not as fortunate. So, let's take a look back at all the recent British regal wedding gowns, starting with the worst and working our way back up to the best.

Epic proportions

Princess Diana

Princess Diana, “The People's Princess”, was a fashion icon who used her love of color to signal her approachability and ditched the stuffy gloves so she could hold other people's hands.

As the budding bride of Charles, the heir apparent, her wedding was of immense interest to the entire world, which meant her dress had to be a sight worth tuning in for.


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As 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. She couldn't do a quiet-looking, low-key little gown”.

Her gown featured a record-breaking 25-foot-long train, which was embroidered by hand with pearls and sequins.


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While the dress certainly made a statement, it hasn't exactly held up by most modern fashion standards, which makes it no surprise that her daughters-in-law didn't opt to emulate that sprawling design with their own nuptial gowns.

All that fabric still gets lugged around a lot, though, because it makes for a popular museum attraction!


Royal blue

Wallis Simpson

Whether you're the most ardent Anglophile or just a casual fan of Netflix's “The Crown”, chances are you've heard of King Edward VIII abdication of the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.


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Their star-crossed love story was practically made for television. The couple reportedly met while she was married and he was still a prince, and the two entered into a relationship shortly before Edward became king. But being king meant he wouldn't be able to marry Simpson, the American socialite who was a two-time divorcee. So, less than a year after taking the throne, Edward stepped away from his royal responsibilities in order to marry her.

Although this didn't exactly sit well with the Windsor family, Edward was given a new title as the 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.


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The black&white photos of the day make Simpson's dress appear white or cream, but her dress was actually a simple silk Mainbocher gown made of a custom color that would later be called “Wallis Blue”.

Considering it was her third trip down the aisle, Simpson opted for a very low-key and unfussy ensemble that made it very clear this was not the typical royal wedding ceremony. Not that there was any confusion about that, of course.



Sarah Ferguson

Although Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson's name became synonymous with scandal back in the late 2000s, her royal wedding to Prince Andrew in 1986 was a pretty blissful affair.

Though Ferguson was feisty even then, her wedding dress was somewhat typical of the late '80s. Lindka Cierach, an African-born British fashion designer, created the dress made of ivory satin with large shoulder pads and incorporated a ton of beading work.


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Ferguson's dress was basically a scrapbook of embroidery documenting her relationship with Andrew, from the heart shapes that signified their love, to the anchors and waves, which represented Andrew's naval career. Plus there were beaded bumblebees and thistles to represent Ferguson's family crest and the train, which was 17 feet long and featured the couple's initials on top of everything else.

That's a lot of dress for an already large personality.


Part turtleneck

Princess Anne

The '70s was a weird era for fashion, so Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II's only daughter, could chalk up her wedding dress choice to the zany time period when she married Captain Mark Phillips. Even by that standard, though, Anne's gown was still pretty peculiar.


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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 and a high neckline, which basically made it look like an oversized turtleneck sweater. On top of that, the ballooned Medieval sleeves tapered at the wrists were another interesting choice.


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Despite its oddities, however, the dress still somehow managed to be quite flattering to the princess.


Flight attendant

Princess Anne

Princess Anne's first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips started to dissolve in 1989 and the two were divorced by 1992.

Later that same year, the princess married Commander Timothy Laurence.


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Although Anne's wedding dress this time was much simpler than the medieval Maureen Baker creation, it was still a turtleneck. Seriously.

Anne wore the very modest suit, which stopped at the knee, with a matching white jacket and black shoes, making her look a bit like a flight attendant.


Cap feather

Camilla Parker Bowles

When Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles finally wed in 2005, Bowles picked an appropriate outfit for the occasion: a white chiffon gown paired with a light blue and gold damask dress coat.


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The coat, made by Robinson Valentine, featured a tasteful amount of gold embroidery throughout, including a design around the collar which matched her gold feather headdress.

While Bowles undoubtedly looked lovely, the dramatic headdress was a little on the distracting side. A veil would not have made sense with her ensemble, of course, but perhaps a smaller headpiece would've been a more fitting accompaniment to her big day look.


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Of course, it wouldn't be the last time her taste in hats would distract from an otherwise fine wedding day ensemble.


Simply '90s

Sophie Rhys-Jones

When Prince Edward, the Queen's youngest son, wed Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, their vows were exchanged in front of 200 million TV viewers.


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And although her dress was very indicative of the '90s thanks to those shoulder pads, her V-neck gown could easily be refashioned for today.


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From far away, Rhys-Jones' gown seems pretty minimalist, other than the long veil, but there is a lot more to this ensemble than meets the eye. Part of the gown was made of hand-dyed silk organza and it was also embellished with a whopping 325,000 pearls and crystal beads, which meant this wedding gown was definitely fit for Rhys-Jones' new title as the Countess of Wessex.


Timeless elegance

Meghan Markle

Ahead of Meghan Markle's big day, there was a lot of speculation about which designer the former Suits actress would wear, and in the end, Markle opted for a gleaming white silk A-line gown with three-quarter-sleeves and a delicate off-the-shoulder neckline.


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The classic piece was paired with a 16-foot silk veil with hand-embroidered flowers from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries. And she also donned a tiara belonging to Queen Mary.


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While some royal wedding viewers thought Markle's bridal gown was a bit understated, others were impressed by the new Duchess' decision to keep it simple. And only time will tell how the look holds up for future generations of royal watchers.


Lace up

Queen Elizabeth

These days, Queen Elizabeth is known for her brightly colored outfits. Whether she's donning pink or a lime green suit, she certainly doesn't shy away from making bold fashion statements. Although her use of color has evolved over time, the Queen seems to have always had an eye for style, and her own wedding dress selection was no exception.


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Although it's probably not a dress you'd say yes to today, it's still pretty amazing, especially for having been made in 1947.

Designed by Norman Hartnell and inspired by Sandro Botticelli's Primavera, the then-princess' ivory-colored satin dress was embroidered in a floral pattern with silver thread. The dress was also embellished with white seed pearls imported from the United States and had a long silk tulle train attached at the shoulders.


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Maybe her look was a bit extra, but what else could one expect from the budding Queen of the commonwealth?


Keeping classy

Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister, married fashion photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. Their big day was the first royal wedding ever broadcast on television and it pulled in about 300 million viewers.

And while she may have been hoping to say “I do” to Peter Townsend before their engagement was doused by royal tradition, Margaret didn't disappoint.


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Norman Hartnell, the same designer who created Queen Elizabeth's stunning gown, created Margaret's.

Although the princess' dress incorporated silk organza, much like the Queen's, it was much simpler overall but still looked like the quintessential princess dress. The full skirt alone required over 30 meters of fabric.

And even more phenomenal was Margaret's dramatic tiara. Designed for Lady Poltimore in the 1870s, it looked more like it was made for her.


True self

Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding was the event of the decade, since he's second in line to assume the throne and has been popular since his childhood, so the expectation for the Duchess of Cambridge to impress was very high.


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Luckily, her decadent gown ended up being a fashion victory.

The bodice was inspired by Victorian-era corsets, and the silk bottom of her gown was made to resemble a blooming flower – a detail that could only be seen when the 9-foot-long train was lifted.


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Middleton's lace sleeves were also a great touch and followed the tradition of some of the royal brides before her.

If Kate hadn't already stolen everyone's hearts before marrying her Prince, she certainly won the world over as the picture perfect, modern princess bride.



+1 #1 H.M. Elizabeth R. 2021-10-24 21:33
Ahh! Yes! I remember all of these dresses! I believe my favourite was Catherine’s! She looked simply elegant and stunning. Diana’s was my least favorite. It was just TOO MUCH. I remember her telling me, “ I don’t like this dress… I’m wearing it because it’s what they want me to wear.”
Elizabeth R.

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