With the Royal Wedding almost upon us, like the rest of the World, we’re excited to tune in on May 19th to see Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle walk down the aisle to announce their love in front of the entire world. Their relationship has been closely watched by the media and there’s little that delights us Brits than a Royal Wedding as the buzz of excitement sweeps through the country; who can forget the magic of seeing Princess Diana’s dress or waiting to catch a glimpse of what Kate Middleton would look like on her big day.
The kiss on the balcony is iconic, the carriage rides whilst the couple sit and wave evoke an overwhelming bout of patriotism but the part of the day we always find the most swoon worthy is seeing the couple forget that the World’s media are looking at them and exchange their vows to each other. The vows are the most special part of any couple’s wedding – Royal or not – and so ahead of the big day, we’ve been looking through the Royal vows throughout history and how they’ve evolved whilst remaining traditional.
It was Queen Victoria, marrying her beloved Prince Albert in 1840, who first populised the wearing of a white wedding dress. The norm at the time was to wear colours, and though she wasn’t the first Royal to be married in white, she started the tradition of white for wealthy and fashionable brides. The coloured dresses brides wore around that time was for practical reasons of being able to re-wear the dress and so wearing white indicated that a bride’s family could afford the occasions dress and afford to have it cleaned. The lace of the dress was chosen to be woven in the Spitalfields which was the historic center of silk industry in London, choosing Honiton lace to create her dress, she knew it would boost the lace industry. Queen Victoria didn’t wear many of her traditional Royal accessories such as her crown or fur despite already being Queen, and seemed to identify more intensely as a wife than a monarch for her wedding day in particular.
If you watch wedding programs or talk to brides-to-be and there’s quite a few that speak about a ‘Kate Middleton’ style dress and it’s clear that seven years after her wedding she’s still a Bridal icon. It’s clear that a traditional wedding dress won’t date. Designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, long lace sleeves came back into fashion and her shorter train length of 9ft was modest compared to Princess Diana’s huge 25ft train! Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding was watched by two million people worldwide as they exchanged their traditional vows – omitting the word ‘obey’ as part of their promises, as Princess Diana did before her and Meghan Markle is likely to do in May.
We know lots about Kate’s beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring, a touching and significant piece of jewellery for Prince William as it was his late mothers, but her wedding ring has symbolism in too. The Welsh gold for the band was given to William by the Queen soon after the announcement of his engagement and he had it created into a band. Welsh gold was also chosen by the Queen Mother for her wedding ring in 1923, so it appears to hold a sentimental significance in their family; it’s the amazing thing about jewellery, the significance it holds, how his Mother’s ring and gold from his Grandmother, two defining figures in his life, have given him items which hold such a sentimental meaning and as Prince William noted, was his way of ensuring his mother didn’t miss out on his wedding day. The white gold engagement ring shows that the engagement and wedding rings don’t have to match metals and both rings really compliment each other and allow each ring to speak for itself with their classic beauty on the Duchesses finger.
We can’t wait for the vows to be exchanged and see the rings Meghan and Harry have chosen, we can see them being traditional plain rings. Whatever they promise each other at the alter and whether they’re traditional or handwritten vows, we’re sure it will be a beautiful and patriotic moment as the Monarchy accepts their new American Princess!