Princess Elizabeth as a Royal Bridesmaid

Princess Elizabeth (now known as Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Philip on November 20, 1947 in a grand wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London, England. But before she was a British Royal Bride marrying her prince charming she was a bridesmaid at four different British Royal weddings.  In this post I will discuss those weddings in more detail and also show photos of Princess Elizabeth as an adorable young bridesmaid and then as a women of twenty years old the year before she herself was married.

The wedding of Lady May Cambridge to Henry Abel Smith – 1931

Princess Elizabeth was a very young bridesmaid at the wedding of Lady May Cambridge (formerly Princess May of Teck) to Henry Abel Smith on October 24, 1931 in Balcombe, Sussex.  Lady May’s parents were Prince Alexander of Teck and Prince Alice of Albany, Lady May was also the niece of Queen Mary who was the sister of her father.  The groom was a Captain in the Royal Horse Guards. 

The wedding of Lady May Cambridge to Henry Abel Smith
(Princess Elizabeth is the one holding the hand of the bride)
photo credit to the National Portrait Gallery

Lady May’s simple wedding dress was made of ivory satin; a slight train fell from her shoulders.  She wore a Honiton wedding veil which Queen Mary had loaned to her niece.  The veil had previously been worn by the Queen when she was Princess May of Teck and married Prince George, Duke of York (later to become King George V), in London on July 6, 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace. For more information about their wedding, please click on the link

Lady May Cambridge with Princess Elizabeth
photo credit to the National Portrait Gallery

Princess Elizabeth was only five years old at the time of the wedding of Lady May and was one of several young bridesmaids, she wore a light blue long dress with puff sleeves.  This event was one of her first public official duties as a British Royal.     

Princess Elizabeth
photo credit to the National Portrait Gallery

Special Note:  Two things regarding Lady May, first during World War I there were strong anti-German feelings in England and many families with German surnames changed them to something more English sounding, thus Prince Alexander changed their name from Teck to Cambridge.  Secondly, Princess May broke with a century old tradition and had the word “obey” omitted from her wedding vows.   

The wedding of the Prince George, Duke of Kent to Princess Marina – 1934

The next time Princess Elizabeth was a bridesmaid it was for the wedding of Prince George, the Duke of Kent to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark that took place on November 29, 1934 at Westminster Abbey in London.  Prince George was the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. Princess Marina was the youngest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.   

the wedding of Prince George, the Duke of Kent to
Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
(Princess Elizabeth is seen on the bottom left of the photo)

There were actually two wedding ceremonies, the first was the one held at Westminster Abbey and a second smaller Greek Orthodox service took place in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace.  Princess Marina wore a white silk and silver lame brocade dress designed by Edward Molyneux and a tulle veil held in place with a diamond fringe tiara that belong to her mother.    

Princess Elizabeth was a niece to Prince George and as a bridesmaid she wore a rather whimsical short satin dress with an organdy overlay and layered ruffled sleeves    

Princess Elizabeth

Special Note:  The wedding of Prince George, the Duke of Kent to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark was the first British Royal wedding to be broadcast live on the radio. 

The wedding of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester to Lady Alice Scott – 1935

The wedding of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester and Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott took place on November 6, 1935 in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace.  Prince Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary. Lady Alice was the third daughter of the John Montagu Douglas Scott, the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and Lady Margaret Bridgeman.  Originally the wedding had been scheduled to take place at Westminster Abbey but the bride’s father died shortly before the wedding date and the venue was moved to accommodate a smaller private wedding at Buckingham Palace.   

the wedding of Prince Henry and Lady Alice
(Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are the two bridesmaids sitting)

Lady Alice’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and it was an unusual color choice of a lovely shade of pale pink satin; this was per her request because she was an older bride at the age of 34.  The dress featured a high neckline accented with artificial orange blossoms, long sleeves and a cathedral length train.

For the young bridesmaids, which included Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret who were the nieces of Prince Henry, Hartnell designed short dresses of pale pink stain trimmed with tiers of ruffled tulle (as shown in the photo below).

Princess Elizabeth waiting for the bride and groom to depart on their honeymoon
(I love her facial expression of pure joy!)

Special Note:  Lady Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (later to become Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) was so delighted with the bridesmaid dresses Norman Hartnell designed for her two small daughters that she became his steadfast client.  Hartnell went on to become her primary dress designer and when her husband became King George VI, he designed the famous White Wardrobe for a state visit to France in 1938.  Hartnell went on to design the wedding dress for Princess Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip in 1947 and also her coronation dress when she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  For his work with the British Royal Family, Hartnell received the Royal Warrant as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1940 and later the Royal Warrant as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.   (Please click on the links for more information regarding the White Wardrobe, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress and Queen Elizabeth II coronation dress)  

The wedding of Patricia Mountbatten to John Knatchbull – 1946

The wedding of Patricia Mountbatten to John Knatchbull the 7th Baron Brabourn took place on October 26, 1946 at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, England.  Patricia was the eldest daughter of Louis Mountbatten, the 1st Earl of Burma and Admiral of the Fleet and Edwina Ashley.  John was the second son of Michael Knatchbull, the 5th Baron Brabourne and Lady Doreen Browne, his father had been the Governor of Bombay, Governor of Bengal and then later the Viceroy of India. 

the wedding of Patricia Mountbatten to John Knatchbull
(Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are the two bridesmaids on the bottom right)

Patrica’s wedding gown was made of Indian silver-gold brocade and she wore the diamond and pearl Mountbatten Star tiara, the tiara had previously been worn by Edwina, the bride’s mother, when she married in 1922.  The four bridesmaids, which included Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, wore blue satin long dresses with puff sleeves with floral wreaths on their heads.

Many members of the British Royal family attended the wedding including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, notice in the photo below that the Queen is wearing a silver grey dress and a silver fox fur trimmed with ostrich feathers.  Patricia’s godfather, the Duke of Windsor, was not in attendance due to his estrangement from the British Royal family caused by his abdication in 1936. 

the Royal Family arriving at the wedding
King George VI, Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth

Prince Philip, a first cousin to the bride, was noticeably present at the wedding and his romance with Princess Elizabeth was revealed to the public when they supposedly exchange amorous glances which were caught by the photographers and newsmen covering the wedding as shown in the photo below.  Special Note: Their official engagement was announced on July 9, 1947 and the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip would take place on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey.  For more detailed information about their wedding please click on the link.   

I hope you enjoyed this post about Princess Elizabeth as a bridesmaid throughout the years.  If you are interested in information about the origin and history behind the role of the flower girl and what their purpose is in today’s modern weddings, please click on the link.

The Tradition of the Bridal Garter

In this post I will discuss the tradition of the bridal garter and other information, such as how to wear one on a wedding day.  I will also give ideas and suggestions for several different styles of bridal garter for any season or theme.

It is believed that the tradition of a garter was started during the Middle Ages; it is considered one of the oldest wedding traditions.  Back then weddings were rowdy public affairs with guests barging in on the bride and groom on their wedding night to witness the couple consummating their marriage (can you imagine how romantic that would be!).  Guests also thought that any token from the wedding would bring them good luck and for this reason the custom began of grabbing at the bride’s wedding dress to tear off to get a piece for a very lucky souvenir!!  Eventually, to appease these intrusive guests, the bride’s garter was tossed into the crowd instead in order to keep her safe from harm and also her dress from being torn to shreds. 

Special Note: Back in those days, a garter was a narrow band of fabric that was used to fasten the stockings to the leg to keep them from slipping.  Both men and women wore stockings and would usually tie a garter just below the knee.       

Today, a bridal garter is generally made in a satin fabric trimmed with lace and it can come in a variety of different colors with additional embellishment such as charms or beading or rhinestones.  Traditionally it is white in color but sometimes a bride will want to have one in blue to be used on her wedding day as her “something blue”.  Sometimes the garter can be custom made for any style or theme of a wedding, such as a destination beach wedding garter can embellished with seashells.

Typically a garter will be bought by the bride; after all she may want one in a particular color or theme to match the style of her wedding.  If the bride’s preferences are known, a garter can be purchased or custom made as a special gift for a bridal shower from the mother of the bride and perhaps it could to be included with a lingerie set.

Of course a custom designed garter from a vendor would require a certain production time so it would be wise to order well in advance of the wedding day.  Also, be sure to try on the garter before the wedding day to make sure it fits properly and allow time for any adjustments to be made.

A bridal garter can be worn on either leg; there is no particular meaning as to which leg it is worn.  The choice is really up to the bride’s preference and she would need to decide on which leg it feels the most comfortable, it is recommended that a garter be worn just above the knee.  Usually the garter is placed on her leg when the bride is getting dressed on her wedding day, either the bride or a maid/matron of honor can do this after the bride’s dress is put on. 

Another decision that the bride needs to make is whether she wants to have a garter toss at the reception or to keep the garter to display in a shadowbox after the wedding or to pass on to her children.  Today, most brides use two garters on their wedding day, one to keep and one to toss.  Usually the one that is kept is more elaborate in design and the one to toss is more plain and simple. 

At one point during the reception the groom will ceremonially remove the garter from the bride’s leg (cue the silly music that is usually played during the removal of the garter!)  A garter toss is similar to a bouquet toss for the unmarried bridesmaids or female guests and a garter toss is usually for the unmarried groomsmen and male guests. It is said that the one to catch the bouquet or the garter is believed to be the next to marry!  Of course if the bridal couple thinks a bouquet and garter toss seems too old fashioned a custom for their reception or if a more modest bride does not wish to expose her legs during the removal of the garter this can be skipped.   

Now, let’s discuss the various styles of bridal garters.  Shown before are some ideas and suggestions ranging from the simple design to the more elaborate to different colors and themes to fit any type of wedding.

a simple white lace bridal garter

a white bridal garter set (one to keep and one to toss)

a blue bridal garter for a bride’s “something blue”

an elegant silver grey bridal garter set with pearl and rhinestone embellishments

a formal black bow bridal garter

a bold red satin bridal garter with rhinestone accents

 a lovely pink bridal garter set

an elegant white lace bridal garter
embellished with a bow and pearl and rhinestone brooch

a white satin bridal garter with a pearl and rhinestone pendant

a white bridal garter embellished with feathers, pearl and rhinestones

a ivory bridal garter with a lucky horseshoe charm
(a three leaf clover could also be used for good luck)

a blue monogram added to a bridal garter with fabric roses

the bride’s new married name can be added to a bridal garter

a great bridal garter set embellished with seashells
which would be perfect for a beach wedding

a beautiful bronze bridal garter set which would perfect for a fall wedding

a silver grey bridal garter set with snowflake charms
would be great for a winter wedding

a bridal garter set trimmed with a yellow bandana
for a country themed wedding

shown above are two bridal garter sets for a policemen or firemen couple

an army bridal garter set for a military couple

here is an idea for a bridal garter set
which could feature a bride or groom’s sorority or fraternity

So, as you can see from the examples above there is a vast variety of bridal garters that could be used for any wedding style or theme.

Movie Costumes – Ever After

In the ongoing series regarding movie costumes, this post will be about the 1998 Ever After movie costumes.  Danielle’s mother’s gown that she wears to the ball is absolutely beautiful and would be a great inspiration for a bridal gown, of course minus the wings!  But before I go into any details about the dress I will briefly discuss some information regarding the movie. 

Based on the Cinderella fairy tale, Ever After is a romantic drama set in 16th century France.  The movie starts with the Brothers Grimm being summoned by the home of the Grande Dame (played by Jeanne Moreau) to discuss their version of “The Little Cinder Girl” story.  Placed in the room in which they are meeting there is a painting of a young girl which was painted by famous artist Leonardo de Vinci and she explains that the girl is her great-great grandmother who was the real Cinder Girl. 

Special Note: The painting of Danielle is based on a real unfinished painting by Leonard de Vinci called “La Scapigliata” dating to around 1508. 

To prove that her story is true, she shows them the “glass slipper” as she starts to tell about Danielle de Barbarac (played by Drew Barrymore) and how she came to marry Prince Henry (played by Dougray Scott).

Grande Dame (played by Jeanne Moreau)

Danielle’s wealthy father had died shortly after he had married the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (played by Anjelica Huston) who comes to live with them bringing her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline.  Ten years after her father’s death, Danielle has been forced to be a servant within her own home; meanwhile Rodmilla has secretly been selling the house’s priceless treasures to pay off the high debt incurred from her and her daughters’ lavish lifestyle.

Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (played by Anjelica Huston)

the stepsisters – Marguerite and Jacqueline
(played by Megan Dodds and Melanie Lynskey)

Through a chance encounter Danielle meets Prince Henry, he is stealing a horse from her home and he callously tosses coins at Danielle to settle the matter before riding off!  They meet again when Danielle is posing as a noble person to pay off the debt so that a trusted old servant named Maurice can be returned to her home, she pays with the money Prince Henry had given her.  Prince Henry is intrigued by Danielle (posing as the Comtesse Nicole de Lancret, which was her mother’s name), he considers her both courageous and outspoken.  After meeting several more time and sharing several more adventures together they begin to fall in love.

Danielle de Barbarac (played by Drew Barrymore) and
Prince Henry (played by Dougray Scott).  

A grand ball is being held in his honor at the castle and Prince Henry has invited Danielle.  Since Rodmilla is planning on her eldest daughter to be the one to marry the prince, she stops Danielle from attending by locking her away.  The youngest daughter proves herself to be kind by sympathizing with Danielle’s unfortunate circumstances.  Luckily Leonard de Vinci, who has come to the French court and become friends to both Prince Henry and Danielle, rescues her just in time.  She appears at the masque ball as a butterfly wearing her mother’s gown with wings made by de Vinci.  But before Danielle can tell the prince the truth, Rodmilla reveals Danielle’s true identity as a poor servant girl who is unworthy of a prince.  Now, ashamed at deceiving the prince, Danielle flees the ball leaving behind her “glass slipper”. 

the “glass slipper” that Danielle left behind at the ball

To further punish Danielle, Rodmilla sells her into slavery to an evil man.  Eventually Prince Henry realizes that Danielle is his true love and he rushes to rescue her.  But in a modern twist to the old fairy tale, it seems that Danielle has rescued herself! Prince Henry proposes by placing the “glass slipper” on Danielle’s foot and they soon marry. 

Prince Henry proposes to Danielle with the “glass slipper”

Later, as a result of their cruel intentions toward Danielle, Rodmilla and her eldest daughter are banished to work out their days in servitude. But in the end, Danielle lives happily ever after with her prince charming!!

Special Note: For more information about the Cinderella fairy tale and ideas for incorporating elements of a Cinderella theme into a wedding, please click on the link.

Now it is time to discuss the lovely costume that Danielle wears to Prince Henry’s masque ball. Poor Danielle has only two precious processions in her life that she has managed to keep, one is a book called “Utopia” which was a gift from her dear father and other one is a dress which was previously worn by her mother who unfortunately died when Danielle was very young.  It is her mother’s wedding dress that she wears to the ball and with the help of her friend Leonardo de Vinci who makes her a set of wings to complete the look of a beautiful butterfly. 

Most historical romance dramas take great liberties when creating movie costumes and rarely strive for authenticity instead trying for a look with a modern edge or to convey a particular mood.  In the case of the Ever After film the timeline takes place in France during the 16th century but the costumes have a more Italian Renaissance style.

The dress of Danielle’s mother is made in a Venetian style and it is somewhat whimsical in design with the large wings made by da Vinci keeping with the idea that Danielle is attending a masque ball as a butterfly.  It is interesting to point out that the other guests at the ball are wearing dark colors and this allows Danielle to stand out with the light colored dress which beautifully matches Prince Henry who is also dress in light colored clothing.

The dress has a fitted bodice, detailed sleeves, a split overdress made in a shimmery silver crinkled gauze material and a lovely pale grey silk satin underskirt, the dress also has a slight train.  The deep rounded neckline is worn off the shoulders and antique silver foil scalloped lace trims the edge. 

The bodice features a pale gold lace that is intricately beaded with tiny pearls and seed beads and further embellished with embroidered leaves and oblong shaped bullion appliques, underneath the color of the bodice matches the pale grey underskirt.

At the waistline there are two rows of trim, one is a silver trim and the other is a row of individually sewn pearls.  The overskirt is split into panels in the front are made in an embroidered metallic crinkle material and trimmed with embroidered leaves and flowers along the edges.    

It seems that the dress has full sleeves made in a metallic crinkle organza with an upper band that has lace trim and embellished with embroidery in a swirl pattern and white iridescent and silver beads with the bottom of the band is a floral bullion, the organza is pulled through the top to create a “puff” of material.  There is another “puff” of crinkle organza material and below that is the lower portion of the sleeve which is covered with thin netting that is embellished with floral embroidery and the edges are trimmed with several pearl drops.  

The hem of the skirt is lightly padded and there are rows of French knots which gives detail to bottom.  The padding also serves a purpose of adding weight to the dress since the silk satin of the underskirt and the gauze material of the overskirt were so light.

The back of the dress also features several panels of the shimmery gauze material.  The upper back portion of the dress has the metal support for the wings which are made of netting stretched over a metal frame.  The netting was a light weight fabric making the wings very easy to wear and also allowing them to maneuver beautifully to create an illusion that when she moved it appeared as if she was fluttering like a butterfly! 

The custom shoes made by Salvatore Ferragamo matched the dress perfectly.  The slippers were made in satin covered with muslin woven with silver thread and embellished with embroidery and beading.  The transparent heel was made of plexiglass which gave it a “glass slipper” effect, the heel was also decorated with silver beading.

Danielle’s “glass Slippers” on exhibit

To complete Danielle’s look for the masque ball, an iridescent powder was dusted on her cheeks and above her eyes, several crystals were also scattered across her forehead.

Special Note: For those wishing to create their own magical “Ever After”, shown below are two patterns that were available from Simplicity. I don’t think the patterns are currently available in retail stores but a quick online search may yield a result.


A British Royal Bride – Princess May of Teck

In ongoing series on British Royal Weddings I featured the wedding of Prince George (later King George V) and Princess May of Teck (later Queen Mary); they were married on July 6, 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James Palace in London, England.  In this post, I will discuss the wedding dress and bridal accessories which Princess May wore on her wedding day and the jewelry that she receive as wedding gifts from Prince George as well as other members of the Royal family.

As I had mentioned in A Royal Wedding – Prince George and Princess May of Teck, Princess May had been previously been engaged to Prince Albert Victor but he sadly died of pneumonia on January 1892 shortly after their engagement had been announced.  Queen Victoria, Prince Albert’s grandmother had grown very fond of Princess May and after the required period of mourning, the Queen strongly encouraged Prince George to marry his deceased brother’s former fiancé.  By the early part of 1893, Prince George had proposed to Princess May and a wedding date was set for early July of that same year.

Princess May’s bridal trousseau

With such a short time to prepare for the wedding Princess May and her mother, the Duchess of Teck, set about quickly arranging the trousseau.  In keeping with Princess May’s impending marriage to Prince George, who was now second in line to the British throne, it was decided that the items in the trousseau should be entirely made in Great Britain.  The finest silks would come from England, the flannel from Wales, the tweeds from Scotland and beautiful laces from Ireland were selected for Princess May’s trousseau.

Princess May of Teck selecting her trousseau

Princess May’s wedding dress 

The wedding dress for Princess May was made by the Linton & Curtis dressmakers located on Albermarle Street in London, England.  As with Princess May’s wedding trousseau, the entire dress was created in Brittan by English manufactures using English made materials.  The custom-made silk and satin brocade material was created at the Warn& Sons factory in Spitalfields and featured a pattern which incorporated roses, shamrocks, thistles with also Lily of the Valley and Orange Blossoms flowers embroidered in silver thread.  The dress was a relatively simple style with a long train; the front of the dress featured several tiers of Honiton lace which had originally been a part of the Duchess of Teck’s wedding dress.  The bodice of the dress came to a point just below the waist and was trimmed with more of the Honiton lace.  To complete the look of the dress on the wedding day, orange blossoms trimmed the bodice and also attached to the front of the dress.  Today, the wedding dress of Princess May now belongs to the British Royal Collection and is frequently displayed at Kensington Palace in London with several other Royal wedding dresses.


Princess May’s wedding dress – front and back views

Special Note:  For those readers wondering, there was another wedding dress which had been commissioned upon Princess May’s previous engagement to Prince Albert Victor.  Details of the silver embroidered “Lily of the Valley” dress were made public just before Prince Albert unexpectedly died.  All plans for the completion of the dress were stopped and there is no evidence as to what happed to it afterwards.

Princess May accented her bridal attire by wearing a diamond riviere necklace which was a wedding gift from her in-laws, the Prince and Princess of Wales.  She also wore diamond earrings and a diamond brooch fashioned in the shape of an anchor (as shown in the photo below), both were wedding gifts from the bridegroom, Prince George.

Also shown in the photo, Princess May is holding
a Honition lace trimmed handkerchief which was embroidered with her initials.

Princess of May’s wedding veil 

On her wedding day, Princess May wore her mother’s Honiton lace veil wedding veil which the Duchess of Teck had also worn on her wedding day in 1866.  To secure the veil, the Princess wore several diamond pins, the largest one a gift from Queen Victoria.  The veil was worn cascading down the back of the Princess so that her face remained uncovered and in full view.  A small wreath of orange blossoms was also worn on her head.

Prince George and Princess May on their wedding day

Special Note:  The bridal veil would also be worn by the daughter of Prince George and Princess May (later to become King George V and Queen Mary in 1910).  Princess Mary (the Princess Royal) wore the veil when she married Viscount Henry Lascelles (later to become the 6th Earl of Harewood) in 1922.

Princess May’s wedding bouquet 

For the wedding ceremony, the Princess carried a large bridal bouquet made entirely of white flowers which included “York” roses, orchids, lilies of the valley, carnations, orange blossoms and of course the traditional sprig of myrtle.  Queen Victoria and Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, also carried large bouquets on the wedding day of Prince George and Princess May (it has not been reported if the bride’s mother, the Duchess of Teck, carried a bouquet on her daughter’s wedding day)

Princess May’s bridal bouquet is shown in the middle photo,
Queen Victoria’s on the left and Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, on the right

The bridesmaids and attendants 

The bridesmaids and attendants for the wedding of Prince George to Princess May included Princess Victoria and Princess Maud of Wales, sisters of the groom; Princess Victoria and Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh; Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein; Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret and Princess Patricia of Connaught; Princess Victoria Eugenie and Princess Alice of Battenberg.  The bridesmaids gowns were made of white satin with silver lace and they wore a simple rose in their hair.

The bridesmaids and attendants

Princess May’s wedding gifts 

Prior to the wedding, traditionally the Royal wedding presents are put on display for the public to view and a list of the items was also printed in the newspaper for those unable to attended the exhibition.

As previously mentioned, Prince George presented his bride with a set of diamond earrings and the anchor diamond brooch, the Princess wore both on her wedding day.  The Prince gave her a perfectly matched five strand pearl necklace accented with a beautiful rose made in pearls and diamonds. The Duke and Duchess of Teck, the bride’s parents, presented her with a lovely set of turquoise and diamond jewelry set consisting of a tiara, necklace and brooch.

The County of Cornwall presented Princess May with a ruby and diamond bracelet in the same style of the Rose of York (remember Prince George was the Duke of York and upon marrying him Princess May became the Duchess of York).  The centerpiece of the bracelet featured a large ruby and diamond rose that was detachable (she often wore it separately as a brooch).    Many years later, when Princess Elizabeth (now the current Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Phillip in 1947 Queen Mary gave the Cornwall bracelet to her as a wedding present to her granddaughter.

The County of Cornwall Rose of York diamond and ruby bracelet

Royal Ascot – the history, the clothes and of course those hats!

Royal Ascot is a multi-day thoroughbred horse race event that is held every June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.  It is considered one of the highlights of the British social season and Queen Elizabeth will traditionally open the event with several members of the British Royal family also in attendance.  In this post I will discuss the history of Royal Ascot and of course those beautiful clothes and amazing hats worn throughout the years. 

Special Note: Royal Ascot hats would be a great inspiration for a guest attending a spring or summer wedding.

The History of Royal Ascot

The Royal Ascot, the story goes, dates back to 1711 when Queen Anne had been riding out near Windsor Castle.  She came across a large flat open area, known as the Ascot Heath, which would be ideal for horses to run at a full stretch.    Originally the race was an endurance event but later it became a speed race for thoroughbred horses. 

As the years passed the British Royal family has become forever associated with Ascot.  For centuries Kings and Queens have shared a passion for horses and attending the annual Ascot races, from Queen Anne to King Edward VII to King George VI to Queen Elizabeth II.  The Royal Procession is a grand tradition at Ascot and was first introduced in 1825 by King George IV.  Today the Queen and members of the Royal family arrive in carriages and the Queen’s Ascot landau is drawn by Windsor Grey horses.

King Edward VII was well known for his equestrian passion and was a constant attendee at Ascot during his lifetime.  In 1910 when he died just a short time before the event it was decided that the late King would not want the race to be suspended.  That year Ascot was a very somber event with the Royal family in deep mourning and in seclusion so the Royal Box remained empty.  Those attending the race wore head to toe black to show respect for the loss of the King. 

During World War II there were no races run at Ascot between 1940 and 1943.  The racecourse was taken over by the army and converted to provide housing for the Royal Artillery.  After the war a young Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, attended her first Ascot in 1945.  The Queen would soon develop a keen interest in horseracing, something she had shared with her parents, and she would eventually become an owner and breeder of a stable full of racehorses.  The jockeys riding the Queen’s horses are identified by her racing colors, a purple jersey with gold braid and red sleeves and black cap with gold fringe.

1956 – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

To date, the Queen has rarely missed Ascot since her Coronation in 1953 with the exception of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. She returned in 2021 just a few months after the death of Prince Philip.   

2019 – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
(sadly this would be the final Ascot that the Royal couple would attend together)

The British Royal family fashion worn at Ascot

The fashions of Royal Ascot have obviously changed throughout the years to keep pace with the different styles from the Victorian era to the Edwardian era to the time during both World Wars and now in the 21st Century. 

Shown below are several photos of the fashions that the women of the British Royal family have worn throughout the years; including Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother as well as Princess Diana and then later Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and most recently Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Meagan, the Duchess of Sussex.    

1931 – Duke and Duchess of York
(later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)

1956 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

1970 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and Princess Anne

1981 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and
Princess Diana (it was her first Ascot as the Princess of Wales)

1988 – Princess Diana
(this is perhaps my favorite outfit she had worn at Ascot)

1990 – Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(her style had changed from girlish ruffles to elegant suits)

1996 – Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret

2013 – Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall
(this photo would be used as their Christmas card for that year)

2016 – Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge
(this was her first Ascot that she attended after marrying Prince William)

2016 – Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge

2018 – Prince Harry and Meagan – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

2018 – Meagan, the Duchess of Sussex
(this was her first Ascot after marrying Prince Harry)

The three photos shown above are of Queen Elizabeth
wearing just a few of her hats worn at Ascot over the last few years

2019 – Prince William and Katherine – the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

2019 – Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge

2021 – Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall
(after the pandemic quarantine a mask has become a fashion accessory)

2021 – Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

2021 – Queen Elizabeth at the first Ascot after the coronavirus pandemic

So, as previously mentioned, any of the Royal Ascot hats shown above would be a great inspiration for a mother of the bride or groom, a grandmother or any guest attending a spring or summer wedding.

Cinderella – A Classic Fairytale

The classic story of Cinderella has been told throughout the centuries in different parts of the world.  The lead character has been known by various names and the settings or the situations may vary from one story to the next but the basic plot is usually about a young girl who finds herself in difficult circumstances beyond her control which she valiantly overcomes.  At the end of the post, there will be a section with wedding ideas inspired by the classic fairytale.

The first known version of the Cinderella story was written in 1697 and it is the French story of Cendrillon written by Charles Perrault.  Cendrillon introduced such plot elements as the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage and the glass slippers. The story starts when a widower with a small daughter marries a woman with two daughters.  The widower’s daughter is forced to work from dawn to dusk performing menial chores for the household and often falls asleep by the fireplace in an effort to stay warm.  She frequently wakes covered in cinders and her stepsisters taunt her with the name of Cendrillon.  Sadly, her father is completely unaware of the abuse and cruelty.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen are planning on having a ball to introduce their son, the Prince, to eligible young women in the hopes that he will find a wife.  On the night of the ball, the stepsisters leave dressed in their finest gowns, Cendrillon was told that servants are not invited and was required to stay home.  After they depart, Cendrillon starts to cry and suddenly her magical fairy godmother appears to transform Cendrillon’s rags into a beautiful gown and turns a pumpkin from the garden into a grand golden carriage with several mice turned into horses to pull the carriage.  The final touch is a lovely pair of glass slippers to cover her bare feet but the fairy godmother warns her that Cendrillon needs to return before midnight because that is when the spell will be broken and everything will return to its original state.

Cendrillon arrives at the ball and the Prince soon becomes enchanted.  They dance together and quickly begin to fall in love.  But before the stroke of midnight Cendrillon suddenly leaves the ball and in her haste she loses one of her shoes.  The Prince tries to follow but Cendrillon has vanished and all that remains is one of her glass slippers.

The Prince vows to find the girl who lost her shoe but won his heart!  He sets out and in his quest he travels across the countryside stopping to have all the unmarried women try on the shoe.  When he appears at the home of Cendrillon, the stepsisters try on the shoe, but of course it doesn’t fit them.  When it is Cendrillon’s turn the shoe it fits perfectly.  The story ends happily with the Prince marrying Cendrillon.

Little girls love the Cinderella story, regardless of whether it is in a book or film format, and at some point they will inevitably dream about the possibility of finding their own “Prince Charming”.  The versions of the Cinderella story that my generation fondly remember are the 1950 Disney animated movie, the 1957 Rogers and Hammerstein television musical starring Julie Andrews and the remake that was televised in 1965 starring Leslie Ann Warren.  Over time there have been more modern interpretations, such as “Ever After” starring Drew Barrymore, “A Cinderella Story” starring Hillary Duff and “Another Cinderella Story” starring Selena Gomez.  Most recently, in 2015 Disney released a live action “Cinderella” movie starring Lily James.

Special Note: For more information regarding the movie costumes from “Ever After”, please click on the link

Wedding ideas inspired by the Cinderella fairytale

It is possible to add elegant and opulent elements of the classic fairy tale into a modern day wedding.  Here are some ideas and suggestions –

Invitations – Consider wedding invitations printed in a beautiful font, perhaps with the paper edged in gold befitting a royal court. Another idea is to embellish the invitation with a lovely satin ribbon with a crystal accent attached. (this idea may be a little more costly since additional postage may be required due to the  weight)

Wedding ceremony or reception site – Of course, the ultimate venue for a Cinderella-inspired wedding would be a real-life castle! Shown below is a evening ceremony at Walt Disney World.

Transportation – Rent a carriage for the bride to arrive in royal style to the wedding venue. Another idea, if the wedding ceremony takes place outdoors, is for the groom to make a dramatic entrance on horseback. Shown below is the Cinderella carriage in front of the Walt Disney World castle.

Bridal gown – Inspired by the beautiful ball gown in the recent 2015 “Cinderella” movie, the bride’s dress can be embellished with Swarovski crystals to add a special sparkle that would catch the light as she proceeds down the aisle at the ceremony or dancing with her “Prince Charming” at the reception. Shown below is the wedding dress worn by actress Lily James in the 2015 Disney live action “Cinderella” movie which was featured in Vanity Fair magazine.

Bridal shoes – What could be more iconic than Cinderella’s glass slippers? Look for shoes embellished with crystals or pearls and maybe even a “glass” heel. Shown below is a beautiful sparkly Jimmy Choo shoe.

Bridal fashion accessories – If the wedding gown selected is a strapless versions or has short cap sleeves, consider a pair of long elbow length white gloves to add an elegant and formal style to complete the bride’s ensemble.

Bridal hair accessories – Accent a beautiful hairstyle with a sparkling tiara or other hair accessories made of Swarovski crystals or pearls.

Reception decorations – To project a regal style for the decorations at a reception think in terms of colors considering combinations such as ivory and gold or white and silver. Either choice can be accented with a third color such as blue or pink.  Floral arrangements can be draped with ropes of hanging pearls or crystals.  Another idea is to have a “throne” style chair for the bride and groom to regally take their places at the head table.

Cake decoration – Consider adding a porcelain cake topper of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Another idea is to design the cake in the shape of a towering castle. Shown below is a porcelain Cinderella and Prince Charming figurine by Lenox that could be a beautiful cake.

As you can see, the ideas for a Cinderella themed wedding are endless with elegant and opulent elements used to create a fairytale wedding of your dreams!

Special Note: Portions of this post came from my other blog, 

The Cambridge Emeralds

The Cambridge Emeralds came into the royal family through Queen Mary who was the grandmother of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II.  The story is a very interesting one in which the emeralds were originally acquired by Augusta of Hesse- Kassel, the Duchess of Cambridge (Queen Mary’s grandmother) in 1818 at a charity lottery while they were in Frankfort, Germany.  The box that was the prize is said to have contained somewhere between 30 to 40 cabochon emeralds (cabochon is a French word meaning a gemstone which is in a natural shape and polished as opposed to being fully cut and faceted).

Duchess of Teck wearing the original Cambridge emerald necklace

The Duchess had some of the emeralds set into a pair of drop earrings and a pendant necklace.  After her death her daughter, Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck (Queen Mary’s mother) inherited the emeralds.  Unfortunately, the Cambridge emeralds were almost lost to the royal family when they were passed onto Prince Francis of Teck (Queen Mary’s brother) and when he died suddenly in 1910 the emeralds fell into the possession of his mistress.  Luckily, Princess Mary of Teck (later to become Queen Mary) retrieved the emeralds under questionable circumstances.

Queen Mary was known to wear numerous pieces of jewelry at one time and on the occasion of the Imperial Durbar held in Delhi in 1911, when King George V was crowned Emperor of India, she had a majority of the Cambridge emeralds set into what became known as the Delhi Durbar parure.  (a parure is a set of matching jewelry that would sometimes include a tiara, necklace, bracelet, brooch and earrings)

Then in 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  The tiara had been smuggled out of Russia by a British diplomat during the 1917 revolution.  After acquiring the tiara, Queen Mary had it altered and the original teardrop pearls could be replaced by fifteen Cambridge cabochon emeralds.  (Please click on the link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part One, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

The remaining Cambridge emeralds were set into additional brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings made by Garrards, the Royal Jewelers.  These pieces of jewelry were cleverly designed so that the emeralds could be detachable from their setting so that Queen Mary would be able to insert gemstones that would coordinate with the color of her gowns.

All of the jewelry mentioned; the Delhi Durbar parure, the Vladimir tiara and the additional pieces using the Cambridge emeralds, were the personal property of Queen Mary.  Upon the death of Queen Mary, her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the collection in 1953.

The Delhi Durbar Tiara

The tiara was originally part of the Delhi Durbar Parure and was set with several of the Cambridge emeralds, many years later the ten cabochon emeralds would be eventually used in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.  The Delhi Durbar Tiara is now part of Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewelry collection and is often loaned to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who wears it without the emeralds.

Delhi Durbar Tiara

Delhi Durbar Tiara worn by Queen Mary   

The Delhi Durbar Necklace

The Delhi Durbar Necklace was specifically made for the 1911 Delhi Durbar and is set with nine cabochon Cambridge emeralds, six large diamonds, numerous smaller diamonds and the Cullinan VII diamond which is an 8.8 carat marquise shaped diamond.  The necklace was made by Garrard at the request of King George V and was presented to Queen Mary on occasion of her 44th birthday.  Since Queen Elizabeth inherited the necklace in 1953 she usually wears it paired with the Vladimir Tiara for evening events.

Delhi Durbar Necklace   

Delhi Durbar Necklace worn by Queen Elizabeth

The Delhi Durbar Earrings

The Delhi Durbar earrings are set with one of the Cambridge oval shaped cabochon emeralds surrounded by 11 diamonds and a matching emerald provided by Garrard surrounded by an additional 11 diamonds.  Since Queen Mary would often wear several necklaces at one time, the earrings were kept relatively simple in style.

Delhi Durbar Emerald Earrings

The Delhi Durbar Stomacher and Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch

The Delhi Durbar Stomacher and Scroll Cambridge Emerald brooch are pieces of jewelry specially made by Garrard for Queen Mary to wear to the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  The Delhi Durbar Stomacher is set in gold with seven of the Cambridge emeralds, as well as chips from the Cullinan diamond and several smaller diamonds (a stomacher is customarily a set of elaborate pieces of jewelry that are normally worn over the bodice of a gown)   The stomacher was a favorite of Queen Mary and she wore it often with several additional brooches, such as the Cullinan V Heart Brooch and the Cullinan VIII Emerald-cut Brooch, to create an impressive display   One of those additional brooches worn with the Delhi Durbar Stomacher was the Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch which included a square-shaped emerald placed in a scrolled diamond setting and a removable emerald pendant.  Since the Cambridge Emerald collection passed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 she rarely wears the Stomacher but occasionally wears the Scroll Brooch for day or evening engagements.

Delhi Durbar Stomacher worn by Queen Mary with Delhi Durbar Brooches   

Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch

The Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch

Queen Mary was given the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch by the ladies of India to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911.  This brooch does not contain one of the Cambridge Emeralds but it is included in the Delhi Durbar Parure.  Set in silver and gold, the large hexagon shaped emerald is intricately carved with the images a rose on the front and an unidentified plant on the back and it is surrounded by several diamonds.  Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned at the top of the Delhi Durbar Stomacher with additional brooch pinned below.  In 1953, the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth and she only wears in occasionally due to its heavy weight.

Delhi Durbar Carved Emerald Brooch

The Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch

Unlike the other pieces of Cambridge Emerald jewelry collection, the Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch was not specifically made for the Delhi Durbar although it was worn for that occasion in 1911.  The round cabochon emerald is surrounded by two rows of diamonds with a pear shaped emerald pendant that can be detached.  After the death of Queen Mary, the brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth who wears it often and mostly with the pendant attached and but she will occasionally wear it without the pendant.

Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch

Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch worn with pendant by Queen Elizabeth 

   Delhi Durbar Round Emerald Brooch worn without pendant by Queen Elizabeth

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

In 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  Queen Elizabeth inherited the tiara in 1953 and frequently wears it with the original teardrop pendants and occasionally with the interchangeable Cambridge Emerald pendants. (Please click on the following link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part Two, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

The Art Deco Emerald Choker

There is some controversy surrounding this Art Deco Emerald Choker and it was always believed that this necklace was created for Queen Mary with the Cambridge Emeralds for the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  Recently it was determined that the emeralds used in the necklace were in fact a gift to Queen Mary from the Ladies of India. Then the Art Deco choker was passed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 but she did not prefer the shortened style.  Much later in the 1980s the Queen loaned the choker to Diana, the Princess of Wales.  Diana wore the choker often and it became one of her signature pieces of jewelry.  Then in 1985 on a tour of Australia she wore the choker in a very unusual way.  At an evening engagement in Melbourne Diana cleverly accessorized her beautiful Emanuel designed evening gown by wearing the choker as a bandeau in a distinctive 1920 style across her forehead.  Upon Diana’s death in 1997 the necklace was returned to the Queen.

Delhi Durbar Choker

Delhi Durbar Choker worn by Princess Diana 

   Delhi Durbar Choker worn Princess Diana wears as headpeice

For more information about Emeralds as a wedding gemstone as well as other famous emeralds, please click on the link.

Wedding Gemstones – The Emerald

In this blog’s ongoing series on gemstones, this post will be about the emerald, which is a silicate mineral classified as a beryl and generally a green color that can range from medium to dark.  The emerald was thought to have healing powers to sooth a soul and relieve stress.

In recorded history, the Ancient Egyptians had the earliest known emerald mines, it has been said that Cleopatra wore emeralds.  Much later emeralds were also found in countries such as Brazil and Zambia but the largest producer of emeralds is Colombia with mines located in the Andes mountain range.  In the United States emeralds can be found in states such as North Carolina and South Carolina and most recently emeralds were discovered in the Yukon area of Canada. 

Special Note: Traditionally the emerald is the birthstone of May and a great gift idea for a bride born in that month would be a ring, earrings or a pendant that she could wear on her wedding day.

In this post I will discuss six of the most famous emeralds, including a tiara once worn by a British Queen. So, let’s get started …

The Chalk Emerald

One of the most famous emeralds in the world is the Chalk Emerald; originally the Colombian emerald weighed 38.4 carats.  Due to the emerald’s exceptional clarity and the rich green color it is considered one of the finest emeralds ever discovered.  It has been said that the Chalk Emerald was once set into an emerald and diamond necklace that belonged to a Maharani in India. 

Eventually the Chalk emerald was recut (now measuring 37.8 carats) and set into a platinum and gold ring designed by Harry Winston with 60 pear shaped diamonds totaling 15 carats.  In 1872 the Chalk Emerald ring was donated to the Smithsonian by Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk (hence the name of the emerald!) and is currently on display in the Gem Gallery of the National Museum of Natural History located in Washington, D.C.     

Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald and diamond pendant/brooch

Elizabeth Taylor was known for her amazing jewelry collection with many pieces given to her by Richard Burton.  In the early 1960s the two began a scandalous affair during the filming of the movie Cleopatra in Rome.  It was during this time that the Bulgari emerald and diamond pendant/brooch was bought by Burton for Taylor as an engagement present in 1962, when the couple married in March 1964 she wore it as a brooch on her wedding day. 

The Bulgari pendant /brooch features an 18 carat Columbian emerald surround by pear shaped diamonds and set in platinum.  The piece was versatile to be wore as either a brooch or a pendant, occasionally Taylor would wear it suspended as a pendant from an emerald and diamond  necklace that was another gift from Burton.  After Taylor’s death many of the pieces of her personal jewelry collection was auctioned off through Christie’s in New York City and on December 2011 the Bulgari emerald and diamond pendant/brooch sold for $6.6 million.       

Catherine the Great’s Emerald Necklace

Catherine the Great was known to have an impressive jewelry collection, she was the longest ruling Empress of Russia and reigned for 34 years from 1762 to 1796.  One of the gemstones she owned was a massive rectangular shaped emerald originally weighing 107 carats. It remained in the Russian Imperial collection for more than 100 years and had an amazing history as it passed through the Russian Royal family.

After her death in 1796 the emerald went to her eldest son who became Emperor Paul I of Russia.  After his assignation in 1801 the emerald went to his son Tsar Nicholas and then to his son Tsar Alexander II.  Tsar Alexander gifted the emerald as a wedding present to the Duchess Marie when she married his son the Grand Duke Vladimir in 1874. 

In 1917 during the Russian Revolution Duchess Marie fled Russia and over 200 pieces of her jewelry collection, including the emerald of Catherine the Great, were smuggled out by a personal friend.  Eventually the Duchess relocated to France where she died in 1920, the emerald was bequeathed to her son Grand Duke Boris.

Throughout the following years the emerald was sold to various collectors, including Pierre Cartier.  Catherine the Great Emerald was recut, now weighing 75 carats, and set into a lovely diamond necklace by the Whitney family.  In 1930, the emerald and diamond necklace was sold to John D. Rockefeller Jr.  Then in 1971 the necklace was sold to a private buyer and eventually offered in auction by Christie’s in 2019 when it sold for $4.3 million.

 The Rockefeller Emerald

The Rockefeller Emerald is an 18 carat octagonal step cut Columbian emerald which was purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr in 1930 for his wife Abby Aldridge Rockefeller.  The emerald was set into a brooch with other small emeralds and was said to have been designed by Van Cleef & Arpels.  After her death the brooch was deconstructed and the individual gemstones were given to the Rockefeller children.

The center emerald (the Rockefeller Emerald) was given to their youngest son, David and he commissioned Raymond Yard to design a beautiful platinum ring with the large emerald flanked with diamonds.  In 2017, the ring was sold for over $5 million to the famed jeweler Harry Winston and thus became known as the Rockefeller-Winston Emerald    

The Taj Mahal Emerald

The Taj Mahal Emerald is a hexagonal shaped Columbian emerald weighing 141.13 carats; it is very different than the other emeralds mentioned in this post.  It was a carved gemstone that featured chrysanthemums, lotuses and poppies.  The Taj Mahal Emerald was later named because the carvings were reminiscent of the architectural features of the grand Taj Mahal in India.  The emerald was sold at auction at Christie’s in New York City in 2009 for almost $800,000. 

The Fife Emerald and Diamond Tiara

The Fife Emerald and Diamond Tiara was once owned by Queen Victoria and it has a very interesting history.  Prince Albert commissioned this beautiful emerald and diamond tiara in 1845 and it was made by the Royal jeweler Joseph Kitching.

The Fife Emerald and Diamond Tiara is set with cushion shaped diamonds and step cut emeralds and surmounted with 19 inverted pear shaped emeralds in graduating size with the large emerald in the center weighing 15 carats. 

Queen Victoria wore the tiara for various occasions during the earliest years of her reign, inclucding several Franz Xavier Winterhalter portraits and the 1855 State Visit to France.

Queen Victoria gave the tiara to her daughter, Princess Louise the Duchess of Argyll, in 1893.  Then the Princess left the tiara to her daughter, Princess Louise the Duchess of Fife.  The tiara eventually went to Caroline the 3rd Duchess of Fife who wore it in 1960 to the State Opening of Parliament. 

In 2018, on the occasion marking the 200th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, the Fife Emerald and Diamond Tiara was displayed at a special exhibition at Kensington Palace.       

For more information about other pieces in British Royal emerald collection, please click on the link to the Cambridge Emeralds.

An American Bride – Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly is known as the quintessential elegant bride and when she married Prince Rainer in 1956 she wore not one but two dresses, a pale pink lace dress for the civil ceremony and a traditional white wedding dress for the religious ceremony that took place the next day.  Although her wedding took place over sixty years ago, her wedding dress design has become the standard and inspiration for many brides throughout the years.  (For more detailed information about the Wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, please click on the link)

The Civil Ceremony Dress

The civil ceremony of Prince Rainer and Grace Kelly took place in the throne room of the Monaco Palace on April 18, 1956.  The Napoleonic Code of Monaco required a civil ceremony take place before the religious ceremony.  The service was performed by the Monaco Minister of Justice, with the vows exchanged in French, and there were only 80 guests in attendance.  Grace wore a dress created by Helen Rose, the MGM studio costume designer, who also made the bridal dress for the religious ceremony.  (For more information on the American Movie Costume Designer Helen Rose, please click on the link) 

The two-piece dress for the civil ceremony was made of pale pink taffeta with an overlay of cream colored Alencon lace.  The dress featured a fitted bodice, high round collar, three quarter sleeves and a flared skirt which she accessorized with pink pumps, white gloves and a pink hat trimmed with silk flowers.  Prince Rainer wore striped trousers, a white vest and a black morning coat.

The Wedding Dress

The religious ceremony took place on April 19, 1956 at the St. Nicholas Church and the service was performed by the bishop of Monaco with 600 guests in attendance including international heads of state and other diplomats as well as Hollywood celebrities.    

Grace’s wedding dress was a stunning creation designed by Helen Rose of MGM studios, it took six weeks using three dozen seamstresses and cost an estimated $7200.00.  The dress used twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk netting, tulle, peau de soie and antique Brussels lace that was over 125 years old.  (peau de soie is a soft silk fabric of satin weave which has a dull finish)  The elegant dress was designed with a high collar, long sleeves, a fitted bodice, a full skirt and a train that measured three feet in length.  Additionally, the bodice had a structured under bodice for support and two petticoats were worn underneath to provide fullness to the skirt; a train insert and silk faille cummerbund completed the wedding dress.  To dress was impeccability finished with special care and to conceal the seams of the dress hundreds of seed pearls were sewn onto the fabric.  Prince Rainier wore a Napoleonic styled military uniform which he personally designed for his wedding day.        

Special Note: Grace was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later went to New York and then Hollywood, California to pursue her acting career.  After the wedding, Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, as she was now known as, gifted her wedding dress and accessories to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Shown below are photos of Grace’s wedding dress
from the Philadelphia Museum of Art website

On her wedding day Grace wore a Juliet style headpiece that beautifully complimented her wedding dress.  The headpiece was worn to the back of her head and featured the same pearl embroidered lace which matched the bodice of her wedding dress.  To further embellish the headpiece were wax orange blossoms and small pearls wired to form leaves.

Shown below are photos of Grace’s wedding headpiece
from the Philadelphia Museum of Art website

Attached to the headpiece was a tulle veil which featured appliqued lace that included two small lovebirds.  Special care was taken to keep her beautiful face visible for the guests to see as well as the estimated 30 million viewers that would be watching on television.

Shown in the photo below are the details of the beautiful tulle veil

Grace wore custom made shoes by David Evins, a leading American shoe maker that Grace had previously worked with.  The wedding shoes were covered with lace to match the dress and had a 2 ½ inch heels.  Grace also requested that a copper penny be added to her right shoe, a traditional good luck charm for brides, and one was sewn into the arch of the shoe.

Finally, on her wedding day Grace carried a small bouquet made of lilies of the valley and a small Bible.  The bible was a gift from a family friend and a custom cover was made by the MGM wardrobe department of silk faille with a lace applique overlay embellished with seed pearls.

Grace’s wedding dress has remained one of the most famous and iconic wedding dress for decades … that is until 2011 when Kate Middleton married Prince William!  It has been said that Grace’s wedding dress was the inspiration and had a direct influence on the design of Kate’s dress, see the photo below for a side by side comparison.  (For more information on Prince William and Kate’s royal wedding, please see British Royal Wedding – Part 4)

A British Royal Wedding – Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

To continue the ongoing British Royal Wedding series, in this post I will feature the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles that took place on April 9, 2005.  In fact there were two ceremonies performed that day; one was a civil ceremony at the Windsor Guildhall and later a Church of England Service of Prayer and Dedication at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  I will discuss the details of both wedding ceremonies and the reception that followed later.     

Prince Charles was born on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace in London, England.  He is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.  At present, Prince Charles is the oldest and longest serving British heir apparent, his grandfather King George VI died in 1952 and his mother became Queen when he was three years old.  He is also the longest serving Prince of Wales, his investiture was held in July 1969 at Caernarfon Castle in Wales when he was 21 years old. 

Camilla was born on July 17, 1947 in London; her parents were Major Bruce Shand and Rosalind Cubitt.  Like most upper class British children, her parent’s had two homes, one in South Kensington and an 18th century country house, the Laines, located in East Sussex.  It was there that Camille developed her skills as an equestrian but she also enjoyed painting, fishing and gardening.

In 1965 Camilla was a London debutante and she moved to a small flat in Kensington which she shared with a friend, later she moved into a larger flat in Belgravia.  Camilla worked as a secretary for several different businesses in the West End and later as a receptionist at Colefax and Fowler, a famous decorating business in Mayfair. 

In the late 1960s Camilla met Andrew Parker Bowles who was then a Guards officer and lieutenant in the Blues and Royals.  The couple had a sporadic relationship over the next few years, at one time Parker Bowles dated Princess Anne (Prince Charles sister).  Camilla briefly dated Prince Charles but when he went overseas while serving in the Royal Navy in 1973 their relationship ended.  Although Prince Charles and Camilla were genuinely fond of each other, at the time she was deemed an unsuitable prospective wife of a future King or England. 

Later that same year Camilla reconciled with Parker Bowles and they became engaged, on hearing the news Prince Charles was devastated thinking that he had lost someone that he truly loved.  In July 1973 Parker Bowles and Camilla had a large society wedding held at the Guards Chapel at the Wellington Barracks in London.   The couple made their home in Wiltshire and then later in Corsham and they had two children, Tom born in 1974 and Laura born in 1978.  In 1994, after 21 years of marriage, Parker Bowles and Camilla started divorce proceedings and it became final a year later in March 1995.      

Meanwhile, who was thought to be a perennial bachelor, was feeling the pressure to settle down and get married.  Eventually Prince Charles met Lady Diana Spencer and quickly announced an engagement.  Their wedding took place on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.  (For more information about the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, please click on the link)

Prince Charles and Princess Diana would go on to have two children, Prince William born in 1982 and Prince Harry born in 1984.  Unfortunately, the future would not be kind to them and they would endure an unhappy marriage that included infidelities on the part of the Prince Charles and Princess Diana as well as malicious and very public gossip involving both of them.  The Royal couple would ultimately divorce in 1996 and sadly the Princess would die in a tragic car accident in Paris in 1997.  

Throughout the years, Prince Charles and Camilla continued their friendship and at one point they once again became romantically involved.  When the news came out, the public blamed Camilla for the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  A few years after the death of Princess Diana, Prince Charles stayed firm in his rekindled relationship with Camilla and he hired a public relations team to rehabilitate Camilla’s public image.  In 1999, the couple made their first public appearance together and afterwards she accompanied the Prince on many of his official engagements.  After many years, eventually the public as well as the Queen and the Royal family accepted Camilla but most importantly to Charles his sons seemed to become quite fond of her because she made their father so happy. 

So, almost 35 years after the couple first meet, Prince Charles proposed to Camilla while they were on Christmas holiday at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland.  On February 10, 2005 the engagement of Prince Charles and Camilla was officially announced by Clarence House.  Special Note: Both Birkhall and Clarence House had a special connection to Prince Charles’ beloved grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died in 2002.  He inherited Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate from his grandmother as well as Clarence House which has become his official residence in London.

The engagement ring Prince Charles gave to Camilla features a platinum Art Deco setting with a five carat emerald cut diamond in the center with three baguettes on either side.  The ring is believed to have been given to his grandmother when she gave birth to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1926. 

As the heir apparent of the British throne and thereby the future titular head of the Church of England, the impending marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla was very controversial and the consent of the Queen, her government and the Church of England were required for them to wed.   

Special Note:  When Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence after having divorced Mark Phillips, she did so in the Church of Scotland.  For a member of the Royal family, the remarriage of a divorcee is less controversial because the sovereign has no constitutional role in the Church of Scotland.  The Prince of Wales and Camilla did not choose this course.  

The Wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla

The wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla took place on April 9, 2005 and, as previously mentioned, there were two ceremonies.  The civil ceremony took place at the Windsor Guildhall; the original date was delayed due to the funeral of Pope John Paul II to which the Prince of Wales attended as the representative of the Queen.    The civil ceremony was not opened to the public but was attended by the couple’s immediate families.  The couple’s two eldest sons from their previous marriages, Prince William and Tom Parker Bowles, were the formal witnesses.

The wedding ring Camilla were made from 22 carat Welsh gold from the Clogau St David’s mine in Bontddu, this British Royal tradition dates back to 1923.  Wartski, a London jeweler who has held the Prince of Wales Royal Warrant since 1979, designed the wedding rings.  Camilla wears the wedding ring with her engagement ring on the same finger of her left hand.    

A second ceremony was held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and the Church of England Service of Prayer and Dedication was attended by 800 invited guests, this service was televised by the BBC.  Although the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were not present at the civil ceremony they did attend the church blessing. 

During the service, which was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prince Charles and Camilla read the act of penitence from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  This was interpreted by the press as an unprecedented confessional from the couple for any past indiscretions thereby satisfying the public who were initially unhappy with the marriage of this couple with a controversial relationship. 

Immediately after the service was finished, Prince Charles and Camilla (now known as the named Duchess of Cornwall) exited St. George’s Chapel and were greeted by the people lined up outside. 

Later in the day the Queen hosted a reception at Windsor Castle in St. George’s Hall and the Waterloo Chamber.  It was noted that the Queen warmly congratulated the couple and Prince Charles gave a heartfelt toast to his new bride.  The entertainment at the reception included the St George’s Chapel Choir, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Russian soprano singer Ekaterina Semenchuk who performed a special song for the couple.

The wedding reception menu featured some of the finest British classic afternoon tea food which included sandwiches of smoked salmon, potted shrimp, and roast venison served with red currant and port jelly.  Sweet treats were also served including glazed fudge, strawberry tartlets and miniature scones with clotted cream and jam.  

The wedding cake was made by Etta Richardson; the square shaped two layer fruitcake measured 93 by 12 inches and weighed about 240 pounds.  The cake was soaked in brandy and then covered with white fondant and royal icing was used to create lattice work on the sides.  The Prince Charles Royal crest and the letter C to represent both Prince Charles and Camilla, sugar roses, leeks, daffodils and thistles were also used as decoration.  In comparison to other Royal wedding cakes, this one was considerably smaller in size but appropriate for a second wedding.

Following the wedding, Prince Charles and Camilla went to Birkhall in Scotland for their honeymoon.

For more information regarding the wedding dresses and bridal accessories of Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, please check back later.