Spanish Royal Wedding Ten Years On: The Bride

Royal Hats

Royal Hats

King Felipe and Queen Letizia are vacationing in Mallorca this week with their daughters and other members of the King’s family. In May this year, they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary; as they and most other royals are on vacation this week, we’re going to take advantage of this lull in royal engagements to take a look back at the many hats worn at their grand wedding, ten years ago.

Journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano’s wardrobe was filled with business suits when she and the Prince of Asturias shocked the world with the announcement of their engagement. As such, Letizia followed the the recommendation of Queen Sofia and asked 87-year old Spanish designer Manuel Pertegaz (longtime designer of Spanish royal gowns) to create her dress. Pertegaz  designed an elegantly simple gown with high collar, v-neck, bell sleeves, slim bodice, and A-line skirt that flowed into an unusual circular train. Made of silk from Valencia, the creamy-hued dress was embroidered with intricate patterns of clover, strawberry tree berries, wheat, flowers and the Asturias fleur de lys in luminescent gold and silver thread.

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats  Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal HatsLetizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats  Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Amazingly the dress was cut from single, continuous panels from shoulder to the end of the fifteen-foot train. While the circular design of the train flowed beautifully out from the dress and looked absolutely stunning when Letizia was stationary, it dragged in heavy, folded layers behind her when she walked up and down the aisle of Almudena Cathedral.

 Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

It appears that a slinkier lace dress was worn underneath the main gown.

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Letizia topped her dress with an ivory silk tulle veil cut in the same circular shape as the train of her dress. It was also hand embroidered with motifs of ears of wheat, flowers, and the the Asturias fleur de lys. A gift from Prince Felipe, the veil was a lovely match for Letizia’s gown.

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal HatsLetizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats  Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

The veil was anchored by the Prussian Diamond Tiara, on loan from Queen Sofia (the history of this tiara is detailed here and here). I think The Greek key and laurel leaf design of this tiara coordinated well with the embroidery on Letizia’s dress; the scale of the tiara was also perfect for this very petite bride. Letizia’s only other jewelry were a pair of delicate diamond drop earrings, a gift from King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats  Letizia Ortiz, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

I love this dress but wonder if it would be better suited to a taller bride. I think the cut overwhelmed Letizia and the incredible visual effect of the circular rain was lost when Letizia moved. In many photos, she appears to be drowning in fabric- not a good look for a royal bride. On a more positive note, the intricate embroidery gave a personal touch to the dress and coordinated so beautifully with the veil and tiara. Looking back at it now, I am afraid that this bridal ensemble looked best from a closeup view. I am curious, dear readers, what do you think?

Later today, we will look at the unique outfits (with headpieces!) worn by the attendants at this wedding.

Photos from Odd Andersen, Pascal Le Segretain, AFP, Pedro Armestre, and A. Jones/J. Whatling/J. Parker/M. Cuthbert via Getty; Boris RoesslerDusko Despotovic and Gustavo Cuevas via Corbis; AFPPool, Javier Soriano, Pedro Armestre, Pool, Pool, AFP and AFP via Getty

14 thoughts on “Spanish Royal Wedding Ten Years On: The Bride

  1. I have never seen these close-up pictures of this dress. It is much prettier close-up! Thank you HatQueen for these beautiful pictures! I agree with you that it looks better up close than from a distance. I think this tiara works well for Letizia because she is so petite. It is just the right size for her and a wedding is not the time for the “big gun” tiaras. I actually would have liked the veil a little longer.

  2. There are some really lovely views of Letitzia’s dress here, particularly showing the exquisite embroidery. However, I have always found the “collar” and shoulder area questionable. In a way it reminds me od Elvis’s famous white jumpsuit that was then used by Catherine Walker to design a gown for Diana.
    This flashback has been a stroke of genius, so enjoyable. Thank you.

  3. Afraid this is one of my least favourite royal wedding dresses, and for the reasons you say. That train isn’t designed well, it may be a skilful piece of cutting, but it cannot retain it’s shape, and in no two pictures is it the same form. Letizia is wading through the damn thing. I really didn’t like that tall collar at the time either, with the lace veil it swamps her. It’s a dress that tries so hard, but carries so little of the bride’s personality, that I just cannot declare it a win.

    However… I did see it in person at Aranjuez a few years back, and stationary, up close, it is exquisite. The embroidery is lovely, and you can see the beautiful cutting. Sadly, and this is the fail for me, those things didn’t work on the day for Letizia.

    • I agree with your comments. I also had issues with the tiara, as it didn’t show up well in the distant photos, as she didn’t have her hair piled behind it, and the elaborate embroidery on the veil competed with it. I understand why Sophia wore it, as the Hellenic features, with the Greek key pattern, were appropriate for a Greek Princess, and it was a family heirloom, but Letizia didn’t have any connection to it, and probably should have worn one of the official Spanish royal tiaras, larger in size, instead. She has lovely hair, but it didn’t look good on the day. I wondered if she would even make it up the aisle with that heavy train.

  4. Quick slightly related questions. When Queen Beatrix abdicated, she became “Princess Beatrix”. But when you refer to Queen Sophia post abdication, she is still Queen Sophia. Is that something to do with the orders of Abdication? Is there a known reason?

        • I believe each country has their own legislation and approach to this issue. In Belgium, King Albert, Queen Paola and Queen Fabiola have all retained their titles (although to be fair, Queen Fabiola did not abdicate), as has Grand Duke Jean in Luxembourg. As you already mentioned, such is not the case in the Netherlands.

  5. I think the designer might have wanted to give her a little more heft. She is so tiny and Felipe is so tall that maybe this great big dress would balance them out a little. I like it!

  6. Love the dress and don’t think it wore her. In the setting of a full-on major league cathedral, the gown would have to be bigger than life, and also to note, this was a critical life moment for Spain -the sky had been weeping all morning, like the hearts of Spain were also still crying for the tragedy only weeks before. All the more important the couple be really seen. Gorgeous embroidery, would bet her shoes are also embroidered. Interesting, I don’t recall this gown ever being displayed, unlike the DsoC&C.

    • Letizia’s wedding dress along with the dresses worn by Queen Sofia, Infanta Elena and Infanta Christina were put on display at Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Perhaps someone can remember when this happened?

  7. This is one of my favorite royal wedding gowns….the lines are beautiful and the embroidery is amazing. If it is overwhelming, it is probably because she is quite thin as I believe that she is of average height or possibly a bit taller. The only thing I don’t love is that something about the way the veil falls at the back of her head seems a bit off…but it is a lovely veil. The tiara (a favorite of mine, too) is a good match for the dress.
    Of course, her best accessory is her groom! 🙂

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