Monaco Royal Wedding: The Bride, Groom and Attendants

Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock celebrated their marriage with a Roman-Catholic ceremony held in the inner courtyard of The Prince’s Palace in Monaco on July 2, 2011.

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Giorgio Armani Privé created a sleek gown for Charlene with a portrait collar neckline and fitted body cut from 50 meters of pearly silk duchesse and 80 meters of silk organza. The designer’s niece, Roberta Armani, gave some insight behind the dress in an interview with Vogue, saying, “My uncle wanted to make sure the dress was timeless and sophisticated. Charlene is blessed with an amazing body and spectacular shoulders, which is a fantastic base for any dress. The shade of ivory we chose suits her skin so well.”

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The gown’s silhouette opened just below the hip to a wider skirt that flowed into a cathedral length train. An additional, detachable, five-meter long train attached from the back of the portrait neckline.

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While the second train gave a grand, regal, sweeping look to the back of the dress, it appeared heavy and difficult to maneuver.

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Interestingly, Charlene removed it during the registry signing, processing out of the place courtyard with her new husband without it.  This removal revealed covered buttons up the back of the dress (below right) which had been hidden when the train was attached (below left).

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You’ll also notice that the front view of the dress shows a noticeably different silhouette without the second train.

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Train issues aside, what shines on this dress is its cut and its embroidery. Scrolling down the dress front to the hem and around the edge of both trains, a delicate floral pattern was embroidered in platinum-coated embroidery thread incorporating 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 30,000 gold stones and 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops. Roberta Armani reported that 3 seamstresses worked 2,500 hours on the dress and veil with 700 hours devoted to embroidery alone. The embroidery gave an exquisite delicacy to the dress’ stark lines and sparkled in the sunlight, giving the most beautifully dimensional effect that brings the gown to life.

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Armani used 20 meters of silk organza for the veil, delicately edged in tiny hand embroidered seed pearls. Anchored at the back of her head, the silk billowed over her face in the prettiest, lightest cloud.

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Charlene anchored the veil with 19th century diamond hair clips inherited from Princess Charlotte (Albert’s grandmother),  borrowed from Princess Caroline. I remember at the time of this wedding adoring how the traditional jewels were worn in such a modern way, tucked around Charlene’s chignon to beautifully frame her face from side views and link so perfectly with the sparkling floral embroidery on her dress. The combination of dress, veil, hairstyle and headpiece made such a beautiful look.

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Prince Albert wore the summer uniform of Monaco’s Palace Guards with gold leaf and crown embroidery on the epaulettes and sleeve cuffs and brass buttons monogrammed with his personal cypher. Even with a black tie and a bit of sparkle from the Order of Saint Charles, the Order of Grimaldi, and the French Legion of Honor, it’s rather bland, particularly with the white shoes. Understandably, even Princes don’t have input or choice when it comes to the design of a military uniform but this one is not a head turner.

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Princess Charlene was attended by two friends, Isabell Kristensen in a taupe silk gown of her own design and Donatella Knecht de Massy (wife of one of Prince Albert’s cousins) in a pale grey-green v-neck gown with matching, minimalist bandeau headpiece.

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Albert and Charlene chose seven 7-year old girls from different areas of the principality to round out the wedding party. Princess Caroline worked with Jean-Christophe Maillot, director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, to create their ensembles, based on traditional Monagasque folk costume.

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Along with the red and white striped skirts trimmed in black ribbon, ruffled blouses, aprons and pyramid natural straw hats that characterize this traditional dress, these ensembles also included Albert and Charlene’s monogram embroidered on the silk stockings and aprons, which also were stitched with the name of each girl’s home region of the principality. Finally, the couple gifted each girl with a gold cross they wore, fastened on a black velvet ribbon. Each outfit took more than 120 hours to create and formed a thoughtfully patriotic nod to Monagasque heritage.

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For the evening wedding dinner and ball at the Opera Garnier, Princess Charlene wore a second Armani Privé dress of white silk chiffon with a high, sheer neckline and four-tiered fluted skirt, hand embroidered with dangling beads and Swarovski crystals. She explained to Vogue, “The wedding dress is pretty heavy so I wanted to change into something light, soft and easy to move in for the evening.” Charlene topped the effervescent gown with a sleek, contemporary tiara, custom made by Lorenz Baumer and commissioned by Prince Albert for a wedding gift. The modern lines of the tiara suit Charlene so well, it’s a shame she has not yet worn it again.

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This wedding was a mix of traditional elements contrasted with a very modern bride who seemed not to venture far from her normally streamlined sartorial aesthetic. Nine years on, how does this stand up for you?

Jump to this post for an index of all the royal hats that appeared at this wedding. 

Photos from Getty as indicated 

18 thoughts on “Monaco Royal Wedding: The Bride, Groom and Attendants

  1. My only quibble about PCharlene’s wedding gown was the center seam down the front. It’s not something you normally see on any dress (I have that same quibble with CPMary’s teal dress for this wedding, too) and that seam (to my eye) cheapens the look of the dress. Otherwise, it’s beautiful on her body, albeit a bit loose. I suspect she lost weight after the final fitting, as many brides do. I certainly did.

    I also quibble about the way that PCharlene wore the Diamond Foam Tiara, also. That was not the way Baumer designed the aigrette to be worn. In the video, she’s wearing it properly and it stands up from her head, as it should. At the reception, she wore it backwards and nestled in her hair. In this way, it’s not NEARLY as effective, nor pretty.

  2. I absolutely loved Charlene’s entire look. She was breathtaking. The dress was so beautiful and the silhouette suited her so well. I loved the added touch of the two trains (three if you include the veil). Why have one when you can have two? 🙂 Her hair was perfect and the antique diamond hair clips, positioned around the chignon, was so modern and beautiful. Even her bouquet was gorgeous and the perfect size. She looked so chic.

    I really love all the tiaras that she has, but I wish she’d wear them more often! I don’t think she’s ever worn the sapphire “ocean tiara” except for a magazine article. I remember watching Princess Madeleine’s wedding and Charlene was there, but didn’t wear a tiara. It was so disappointing because she looks amazing in them and has such great, modern taste. The tiara she wore to her evening wedding reception was so pretty. I loved how the diamonds just seemed to float in her hair.

    I do have to agree with your assessment about Albert. He looked nice, but seemed to blend into the background.

    • As it was an outdoor ceremony, he had to keep on the hat and gloves, which make it look even worse. And I’m sure all those order stars are pinned on correctly, plus the “key fob” dangling from his pocket, but they present an odd effect to me. His evening look was much better.

  3. I love Charlene’s dress and hair and jewels! They both seemed very much in love! I can’t believe Albert was 53!!! I bet her dress just sparkled in the sunlight! That would have been amazing to see in person!!. I also thought that Isabella’s dress was fantastic! The neckline of Isabella’s dress gave a subtle nod to Charlene’s dress and had a very defined waist which was clearly lacking in Donatella’s dress. The girls in National Costume were perfection. That is the way to win the hearts of your new countrymen and women! After watching the hats in this video I can’t wait to see the rest of the featured hats this week.

  4. I prefer wedding dresses with simpler lines and subtle ornamentation, so this is one of my favorite royal wedding gowns. Mixed feeling about the detachable train — it made for a stunning entrance, but it did seem to weigh her down. I agree with HatQueen about the combination of the hairstyle, veil and jeweled clip — gorgeous. This was much better than the civil wedding ensemble!

  5. Oh this brings back lovely memories for me of visiting Monaco x2 in 2011 to see the palace and the wedding exhibition. The dress is absolutely beautiful and they showed the Ocean Tiara as well at the entrance to where the dress was displayed. Gorgeous.

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    • That sounds amazing Scarfie1! You need to tell us more. Were you able to take photos? I can imagine the Ocean Tiara is prettier in person. I think it’s quite a lovely tiara.
      I saw the Princess Diana wedding dress exhibit years ago. They included both Spencer tiaras and they were so lovely and sparkly.

  6. I remember feeling a little underwhelmed by this dress at the time, partly because the neckline had echoes of Victoria’s, just a year earlier. But as time has gone on I think it’s fabulous, it flatters her so well, and is perfect for the Mediterranean setting. The veil and hair ornament are also perfection. Appreciate that it must have required some wrangling, but it’s a shame that the longer train got jettisoned, surely her attendants could have got a grip on it a bit better? It gives such a beautiful silhouette when you see it from the front. Overall a very polished look for a stunning bride.
    The young attendants outfits are a lovely touch too.

    • It’s interesting how one’s appreciation morphs over time, isn’t it? I have always loved this ensemble, and her hair and veil arrangement remain one of my very favourites, even sans true tiara. I also have mixed feelings about jettisoning the court train. I used to not like it, especially the side view with space between, but the train on the gown did not hold its shape well, gathering into a thin ribbon behind her instead of the sweep of the court train, so now I’m with you – I wish she’d kept it on, especially as from behind, the collar seems detached from the button back of the dress.

      • Where the collar was detached from the back of the dress was where the train attached, folding inside the dress and actually attaching on the inside. It’s an interesting way to hide this but, as you say, makes the back collar gape when the train was removed.

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