The Duke of Sussex, the title bestowed to Prince Harry today, and Mrs. Meghan Markle married this morning and what a beautiful wedding it was! Before reviewing the royal hats worn today at St. George’s chapel, we first turn our attention to the bride, the groom and their very sweet wedding party.
After months of speculation and rumours of a spectacle dress of beaded splendor, the bride emerged from a vintage Rolls Royce in a surprise- an exceptionally streamlined gown by British designer Clare Waight Keller, who last year became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy. Waight Keller realized Meghan’s vision of timeless purity with an exceptionally tailored gown in pure white double bonded silk cady. The design features an open bateau neckline and sculpted bodice with three-quarter length sleeves. Six vertical seams create a beautiful line to the gown, which, from the skirt, extends into a gentle trumpet. The back of the dress flows to a modest train in rounded folds supported by a triple silk organza underskirt.
The star of the ensemble is the five-metre long silk tulle veil. Following Prince Harry’s appointment as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, Meghan requested that a Commonwealth reference be incorporated in the design. Clare Waight Keller undertook significant research to identify a unique flower from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries and these flowers, along with Wintersweet from Kensington Palace and California Poppy from Meghan’s home state, are hand embroidered into the silk tulle to create a uniquely personal scalloped edge. Symmetrical wheat sheaves at the front of the veil, blended into the flowers, frame Meghan’s face and symbolize love and charity. Hundreds of hours went into the painstaking hand embroidery of the veil (those working on it washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep it pristine) and the result is truly exquisite.
Meghan’s anchored her veil with another surprise. Queen Elizabeth loaned Meghan her own grandmother’s diamond and platinum bandeau tiara which has not been seen in public since the latter years of Queen Mary’s life. An piece of English origin, the diamond and platinum design was made in 1932 for Queen Mary and consists of what Kensington Palace describes as “a flexible band of eleven sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds”. The tiara’s central, detachable brooch with 10 brilliant diamonds dates from 1893.
The scale and shape is wonderful on Meghan and contrasted so beautifully against her classically elegant gown. Her other jewelry included small Cartier diamond stud earrings and a delicate bracelet.
Meghan’s hand tied bouquet of sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine, astrantia, and sprigs of myrtle also included Princess Diana’s favourite flower, forget-me-nots, as a touching memorial. Kensington Palace further reported, “Prince Harry handpicked several flowers yesterday from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to the bespoke bridal bouquet designed by florist Philippa Craddock.” So romantic!
The Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge both wore the black frockcoat uniform, complete with cap, of their former regiment, the Blues and Royals.
Clare Waight Keller designed the six young bridesmaids’ dresses in ivory silk Radzimir. The dresses feature a high waist, short puff sleeves, pleated skirts with pockets and a double silk ribbon detail tied at the back in a bow. Florist Philippa Craddock made their headdresses and posies from same varieties flowers as Meghan’s bouquet. The four pages wore a miniature, single breasted version of the Blues and Royals frockcoat uniform worn by Harry and William, also made by Dege & Skinner in Savile Row. The jackets feature a stand-up collar and the figured braiding of Regimental pattern while the trousers have three-quarter scarlet stripes and leather leg straps.