Ten years ago today, a royal wedding was scheduled to take place in Windsor. After being postponed by one day (to accommodate the funeral of Pope John Paul II), the world watched as Prince Charles finally married his long time love, Camilla Parker Bowles. Camilla’s long time relationship with the prince made her rather unpopular and let’s be honest- hopes for her wedding fashion were not running high. With just six weeks to create two bridal ensembles for this second time bride, designers Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine and milliner Philip Treacy had an immense royal challenge. What they created not only wowed on the day but began a complete transformation of this admittedly no-fuss and outdoorsy woman into a future Queen.
Charles and Camilla’s wedding began with a civil ceremony at Guildhall in the town of Windsor. For this, Robinson Valentine created a simple silk chiffon dress hemmed with vertical rows of appliqued paillettes made in Switzerland. A single row of these round disks finished the neckline of the dress.
The dress was topped by a beautifully tailored coat in oyster basket weave silk with herringbone stitch embroidery. Camilla pinned a pearl and diamond Prince of Wales feathers brooch on the lapel of the coat and wore pearl drop diamond earrings. Her pale beige suede shoes were from L.K. Bennet and her cream leather and suede clutch purse was from Launer’s “East/West” collection.
Camilla’s elegant ensemble was topped by a show stopping picture hat. Made of natural cream straw, the hat featured a flat pillbox style crown atop a large mushroom shaped brim. The lattice woven brim and crown were overlaid with ivory French lace and the front of the hat was adorned with feathers – curling feathers, arrow trimmed feathers and a spiky dahlia flower also made of feathers. The use of lace gave the hat a distinctly bridal aura while the shape and feather trim made it so modern and chic. It was, in a word, perfection.
For the religious blessing, which took place in a service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Camilla changed into a floor-length porcelain blue chiffon gown. The gown was topped by an exquisite blue silk coat which swept into a short train. The coat’s subtle ikat pattern was painted onto the silk, then hand-embroidered with gold thread and the result was an ethereal gown that shimmered in the light. Clarence House released a statement about the coat and dress, saying, “Robinson Valentine believed the dress required a sense of occasion for St George’s Chapel and so the aim was a flowing, elegant line, concentrating on proportion, fit and silhouette.” They certainly nailed it.
Philip Treacy drew from the coat’s gold embroidery, designing a spectacular headpiece of gold leafed feathers tipped with Swarovski crystals. While the piece was considered rather avant garde ten years ago, the proportion was perfect for Camilla and worked beautifully with her colouring and hairstyle. The headpiece was a wonderful pair to Robinson Valentine’s exquisite coat and heralded Camilla’s arrival as someone to watch in the world of royal millinery. You can watch Philip Treacy’s thoughts on creating this headpiece in a video at this post. Camilla’s earrings were family heirloom pieces that you can read about at this post over at Her Majesty’s Royal Jewel Vault.
Finding the right balance of elegance and glamour is tough for any mature bride. I think in Camilla’s case, the challenge was even tougher. While the world was waiting to tear her to shreds (again), she stepped out looking tranquil, elegant and the most beautiful she has ever looked. After years of much publicized Camilla bashing, it was such a great sight to see.
Stay tuned first thing tomorrow for the hats worn by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s immediate families.
Photos from Getty as indicated
The best she has ever looked. Thanks to Anna Valentine and Philip Treacy, she still looks great.
On a recent visit to London I was lucky enough to see the Wedding Dress display in the Victoria and Albert Museum and Camila’s coat and feather headpiece were amongst it.
Although they photographed well in the Wedding pictures I felt they were both quite dull and lacklustre up close. Perhaps it was the lights but not very impressive.
Thanks for sharing this insight, Lyn. I think designing for these high profile events must be very difficult because there is the added pressure of garments (and hats!) having to photograph as well (or better?) than they look in person. I’m surprised to hear the coat and Treacy headpiece didn’t sparkle in person as much as they did on camera.
Camilla’s outfits for her marriage to Charles were nothing less than inspired, right down to the pretty little posy. Love both the hats, the gold has whispers of wheat and tiara – and there is symbolism here wheat is a sign of charity and love. The straw and lace is very feminine and pretty, and maybe a signal to us that Camilla is happy to choose hats of gravitas. Ten years hey! Ten happy years I hope after all the years wasted being apart. Certainly Camilla appears to have her role clearly in hand with lots of humour and fun injected into appearances and tours, whilst Charles has never seemed more content.
I still remember watching this on TV a and saying Wow when I saw that headpiece for the blessing. It’s an amazing piece of millinery, quite out there at the time, but beautiful and framed her hairdo perfectly. This was the moment Camilla made herself into a serious player.
Both outfits stunningly beautiful. I wonder why The Duchess of Cornwall never wore the blue outfit again.
While her blue coat is so well suited to a repeat wearing, I suspect she hasn’t repeated it because it’s just to tied to her wedding. I suppose she hasn’t worn it again for the same reason that most of us have never worn our wedding gowns again!
The cream outfit is gorgeous from head to toe. Before the wedding I was wondering what Camilla was going to wear. It’s not like she could have pulled off a regular wedding gown. This outfit is so elegant and like you said, the little bit of lace on the hat makes it look more like a wedding hat. The blue dress and coat are gorgeous too. When she walked, it floated like a cloud and she looked so regal in it. That headpiece looked like a bunch of wheat to me but I like it more now than I did then. Seeing it on the video gives a much better view of the workmanship in it.
I liked the white outfit, but I thought the hat was over-adorned, and a bit over-the-top for a register office wedding. To me it’s more a hat for the races. I didn’t like the headpiece at all, which looks like a lump of straw from a distance. I thought the long coat and gown looked like a dressing gown and long nightie.
Hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since this triumphant entrance into royal life. I know so many people were against her then (and some still are), but I think she has faced the criticism and hatred with grace, class, and humility. We know Charles and Camilla aren’t perfect people (who is?), and I think Camilla really has worked hard to fit into her role as Duchess of Cornwall and has earned the respect she deserves. Both of these ensembles and headpieces were magnificent and I love them as much as I did then (probably even moreso!). Wishing Charles & Camilla many more decades of happiness!
I thought she look exquisite in both outfits and hats. I never tire seeing photos of that day.
Agreed. These are the best photos of the hats I’ve ever seen. Nice to see the detail.
She looked beautiful and happy. I like both hats, but the cream one better. I’m not usually a fan of the mushroom brim, but this was a spectacular hat! The gold headpiece was perfect for her as well — I had originally thought that it was representing sheaves of wheat (which didn’t make sense to me) and I like that it was not. It suits her very well.
Both hats/headpieces and the Duchess of Cornwall’s hair that day were perfect. The Treacy headpiece did take a little while to get used to when first viewed from a distance (one wondered whether she was in a wind tunnel), but it’s gorgeous.
She DID look the most beautiful she has ever looked. The cream hat blew me away 10 years ago and it is still romantic and beautiful. When I fist saw the gold headpiece I hated it but it has grown on me since then. Now it seems like a natural (straw and twig kind of natural) tiara. Perfect headpiece for the wife of a passionate organic gardener.
She was an elegant and beautiful bride, and her outfits were both wows. Even ten years later I remember that day, and watching it on television. She looked absolutely amazing, and the designers all did a marvelous job. Thanks for posting this, and reminding me of a day that doesn’t seem that long ago. Ten years already! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these pictures again. I am a big fan of Royal weddings, and happily ever after.