Royal fashion: How Queen Victoria altered royal wedding dress protocol for Kate and Meghan


KATE Middleton and Meghan Markle’s freedom to be experimental with their wedding dresses is all down to a controversial choice Queen Victoria made in 1840.

The most recent royal weddings of Kate Middleton and Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank have all been centred around one important element – the wedding dress. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed in 2011 and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wed in 2018, it was the wedding gowns of the royal brides the public could not wait to see. In modern times, royal brides now have the freedom to pick any wedding dress they favour.

Queen Victoria Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Image Getty
Queen Victoria Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Image Getty

This is all down to a royal wedding rule Queen Victoria broke in 1840, a documentary has revealed.

In Netflix’s 2013 documentary “The Royals”, it is revealed how Victoria went against royal tradition when she picked a white dress to marry Prince Albert.

Fashion editor at Grazia Katherine Ormerod explained: “She really pioneered a whole new way of getting married, wearing a simple white dress, which was something which was completely off the radar back in the 19th century.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton Image Getty
Prince William and Kate Middleton Image Getty

Sasha Wilkins, editor and founder of went on to add: “Before Queen Victoria, royal brides generally wore cloth of gold, things that would emphasise their royal status.”

She added: “White was worn by brides before Victoria, but it wasn’t generally worn by royal brides.”

According to historian and author Tracy Borman, Victoria wore white because “she wanted to be highly visible to the people who turned out of see her”.

0 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Image Getty
0 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Image Getty

The shape of the dress chosen by Victoria was a “ball dress”, explained royal fashion historian James Sherwood.

The dress was worn off the shoulders with her hair up in order to show off her beautiful jewels.

He added that “all royal wedding dresses really have been ball dresses ever since”.

When Kate Middleton walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey in 2011 to Prince William, she took after Victoria by wearing ivory.

The dress was a satin and lace gown by the house of Alexander McQueen, designed by Sarah Burton.

Meghan Markle also opted for a white gown when she wed Prince Harry at Windsor Castle in 2018.

The dress was designed by Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the fashion house Givenchy.


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