Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Queen Elizabeth’s Wedding Dress


HRH Princess Elizabeth of York and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten

November 20, 1947

Westminster Abbey, London

In 1947, Princess Elizabeth married her love, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. This wedding was in the middle of the war, and many people all over Britain felt every happy when Elizabeth said she was engaged to Prince Philip.

Dress InspirationDress Sketch

Elizabeth chose a court dressmaker, Norman Hartnell for her wedding dress duty. Hartnell got the inspiration of the gown from Botticelli’s painting, Primavera. (Above Left). The sketch (Above Right) was a dreamy creation in ivory duchesse satin.


Princess Elizabeth had to fund her gown with clothing coupons. She was given 200 extra coupons by the government. People sent in their own coupons to help the Princess out (these were sent back with a note of thanks, it was illegal for her to use them). The public had to be reassured that the silkworms used to create the gown came from China, rather than enemy countries. The gown was heavily embroidered with thousands of seed pearls (flown in from the United States), silver thread, crystals, and tulle appliqués.


The train was silk tulle embroidered in a star pattern that extended 13 foot back. The silk tulle veil was shorter than the train, leaving the embroidery to be the star of the show.


The bride accessorized with sandals in ivory duchesse satin fastened with a silver buckle ornamented with yet more pearls. Her bridal bouquet was made of white orchids, myrtle and was sent back to the Abbey the day after the wedding to rest on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Her bouquet was temporarily lost until someone remembered it was in a refrigerator. The shorter of her two pearl necklaces was the 'Queen Anne' necklace, said to have belonged to Anne, the last Stuart Queen; the longer 'Queen Caroline' necklace. Both were left to the Crown by Queen Victoria and were given to Elizabeth as a wedding present by her father, King George VI. In another mishap, both were left on display with the rest of the gifts at St. James Palace and had to be fetched through the crowds. They were returned to Buckingham Palace with minutes to spare before the bride's departure. Her earrings were a 20th birthday present from Queen Mary, who had inherited them from her mother. The bride also wore Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara.

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