An American Bride – Meghan Markle

In the ongoing series on British Royal Wedding I featured the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that took place on May 19, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle (click on the link for more information) In this post I will discuss the beautiful bridal dress and bridal accessories which Meghan wore on her wedding day.

Meghan choose the British-born designer Clare Waight Keller from the Givenchy fashion house, she formerly worked for Pringle of Scotland and Chloe.  They started the design process only five months before the wedding date and the dress and veil were made in Paris, France where Meghan met with Keller several times for secret fittings.

The dress has been described as a timeless elegant modern design with a sleek silhouette made with only six seams.  The long dress featured a boat neckline, long sleeves and flowing train.  The material used was white double-bonded white silk with triple silk organza used for the dress underskirt.  For “something blue” Meghan had a piece of fabric from a blue dress that she had worn on her first date with Prince Harry sewn into the dress (what a great idea!)

Meghan’s white silk 16 feet long bridal veil took almost 500 hours to make and thoughtfully paid tribute to the coronation gown Queen Elizabeth II had worn in 1953.  Back then the future Queen had requested Norman Hartnell to incorporate the flowers of the commonwealth to be embroidered into the coronation dress, at the time the commonwealth consisted of only eight countries.  Since Prince Harry is a youth Ambassador for the Commonwealth, Meghan wanted to surprise her future husband by including the wildflowers of the 53 countries currently in the Commonwealth into her bridal veil.  Each flower was appliqued and embroidered onto the border of the veil giving it a beautiful dimension and texture.  Some of the flowers include the rose for England, flax for Northern Ireland, the thistle for Scotland, the daffodil for Wales, the golden wattles for Australia and the kowhai for New Zealand.  Meghan also wanted two additional flowers included in the design, the California poppy to represent the place in which she was born and the wintersweet which grows in the garden outside Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace, the home of Prince Harry and Meghan.

Imagine having the choice of any of the tiaras in the Royal collection for a bride’s “something borrowed”!  Well, Meghan had chosen the Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara which was personally loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth.  The story behind the tiara goes back several decades to when Princess Mary of Teck (later known as Queen Mary) married Prince George (the Duke of York and later known as King George V) in 1893.  She was given a beautiful brooch that featured a large brilliant diamond in the center surrounds by nine brilliant diamonds as a gift from the County of Lincoln.  Then in 1932 she had a diamond and platinum bandeau tiara specifically commissioned for the brooch to be used as the centerpiece, the brooch could still be removed to be worn separately.  The tiara has a flexible band of eleven sections featuring interlaced ovals and pave diamonds in addition to clusters of several large and small brilliant diamonds on either end that are intended to match the center brooch.  When Queen Mary died in 1953 the tiara was officially bequeathed to her grand-daughter Princess Elizabeth (who would be crowned Queen Elizabeth II later in the same year).  When Meghan wore the tiara for her wedding day the base of the tiara was wrapped in dark velvet to match her darker hair coloring.   

To complete her bridal look on her wedding day Meghan wore a set of diamond earrings set in 18ct white gold and made by the French jeweler Cartier.  She also wore a stunning Cartier bracelet that featured 100 diamonds set in 18ct white gold. 

In a romantic gesture Prince Harry personally hand-picked several of the flowers from the private garden at Kensington Palace to be included in Megan’s bridal bouquet.  The all white floral bouquet include scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astibe, jasmine, astrantia and forget-me-nots which were the favorite flower of Princess Diana and it was the perfect way to remember and pay tribute to her on the wedding day.  Meghan’s floral bouquet was tied together by their wedding florist Philippa Craddock with raw silk ribbon which reflected the “just picked” informal style.

Also include in Meghan’s bridal bouquet was a sprig of myrtle which symbolizes hope and love.  This lovely Royal tradition dates back to the time of Queen Victoria when on the occasion her daughter’s wedding myrtle was added to Princess Victoria’s bouquet when she married the Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1858.  The story behind the myrtle is that on a visit to Germany by Queen Victoria she had received a floral posy from Prince Albert’s grandmother.  Upon returning to England, the sprig of myrtle from the posy was planted in the garden of Osborne House located on the Isle of Wright and a plant from this original cutting still grows there today.

In another Royal tradition, after the wedding Meghan’s bridal bouquet was sent to London to be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.  This custom dates back to 1923 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (later known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) married Prince George, the Duke of York (later to become King George VI) It was said that Lady Elizabeth left her bouquet there as a sentimental tribute to her brother Fergus who had been killed in World War I.  King George and Queen Elizabeth were the parents of the current Queen Elizabeth and thus the great-grandparents of Prince Harry.