Not just a recent fascination: A look back at impressive royal wedding dresses

The copious amounts of media coverage lavished on royal nuptials — and wedding fashion — is not just a recent fascination.

Weeks before the 1947 wedding of Queen Elizabeth II, royal wedding gown guesses went all the way to Australia, with newspaper The Age reporting she was going to wear a “simple dress” but that the design was being kept secret.

A similar aura clouds Meghan Markle’s dress, but while the chatter grows about another big day for the royals, here’s a look at past wedding dresses worn by members of the British Royal Family.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – April 2011

After months of speculation about her wedding dress, the then-Kate Middleton turned up in a lacy ball gown designed by Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen. The expert hand embroiders at the Royal School of Needlework contributed to the magnificent outfit, which according to some estimates cost more than $340,000. Aside from the fine handiwork, one of the distinguishing features of the dress was an elongated train. However, at only a few meters, it was considerably less festive than the 25-meter train worn by Diana three decades ago.

Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales – July 1981

The dress was so secretly guarded that the designer told one U.K. newspaper that he tore up a sketch he had made for Diana, lest it be leaked. The caution exercised on the part of designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel may have been due to their relative anonymity. Their profile of course soared after the royal nuptials and her gown went on to inspire fashion of the decade.

The puffy bodice featured ivory silk and antique lace, although the most memorable part was the eye-popping 25-meter train. But as splendid as it looked, its lack of practicality meant it got crumpled in the carriage ride on the way to the venue.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – April 2005

The wedding of the two divorcees was a low-key affair. The Duchess of Cornwall wore two Robinson Valentine-designed coat dresses on the day. An elegant white outfit for the civil ceremony was replaced by a porcelain blue gown for the dedication service, which she topped with a Philip Treacy feather headdress.

Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – November 1947

Due to post-war shortages, then-Princess Elizabeth’s dress had to be purchased from ration coupons. Incredibly, the princess received coupons from many ordinary people, which had to be returned since it would have been illegal to accept them.

The court designer, Sir Norman Hartnell, used a satin gown that was studded with thousands of pearls, and floral embroidery to give the dress its regal character.

Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York – July 1986

Sarah Ferguson wore an ivory duchess satin gown designed by Lindka Cierach. The exquisite beadwork featured symbols including anchors and bumblebees, referencing Prince Andrew’s naval career and the Ferguson family crest. Intertwined initials of the couple were sewn into the 17-meter dress train.

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