martedì 28 aprile 2015

Princess Margaret's Wedding

The wedding of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, to society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones took place at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 1960.
The Princess had reportedly accepted Armstrong-Jones' proposal a day after learning from Peter Townsend, to whom she had been romantically linked after the death of her father, that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman, Marie-Luce Jamagne.
The engagement was announced on 26 February 1960 and the couple posed for photographers at Windsor Castle. Princess Margaret received a ruby and diamond engagement ring that was designed by her future husband to look like a rosebud, in honour of the Princess' middle name, Rose.

The official statement from Clarence House announcing the engagement read:
It is with the greatest pleasure that Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother announces the betrothal of her beloved daughter The Princess Margaret to Mr Anthony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, the son of Mr R.O.L. Armstrong-Jones QC, and the Countess of Rosse, to which union The Queen has gladly given her consent.
You can compare it to Princess Elizabeth's engagement announcement here.
The task of creating the wedding gown fall to royal couturier Norman Hartnell, a ballgown-style dress in white silk organza, high neckline, moulded bodice and flowing skirt, completely devoid of embellishments or embroidery. In 1960, Life magazine named it "the simplest royal wedding gown in history".
A silk tulle veil, ordered by Hartnell from Paris and made by Claude St Cyr, fell from the ornate Poltimore tiara, which the bride herself had bought at auction in 1959 for £5,000. Upon her death in 2002, it was auctioned again, together with other pieces in her collection, to help pay estate duties. This time, the tiara sold for £ 926,400, against a top estimate of £ 200,000.
The tiara sat upon a hairpiece selected by the bride's hairdresser René, to add height.
The Princess wore the tiara throughout her life and was famously photographed by her husband while wearing it in the bathtub:

Princess Margaret's wedding shoes were made by royal shoemaker Edward Rayne in a court style, of white crepe faced with satin and with slender 2 1/2 inch heels.
The bouquet included the traditional myrtle. The official photographer was Cecil Beaton.

The couple were married at Westminster Abbey. The Princess had chosen to travel to the Abbey in the Glass Coach, more often used to bring brides back to the Palace. Prince Philip gave the bride away.

It was the first real televised wedding, reaching three hundred million people worldwide, an extraordinary audience for the time. Guests included Winston Churchill, Noel Coward and John Betjeman.
It was the last time the Queen wore a floor-lenght dress to a daytime wedding (she wore a long dress to the wedding of her son Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, but that was in the late afternoon), another Hartnell creation in sky blue silk with elaborate lace detailing, complete with the Lovers' Knot brooch (the same she wore fifty years later to the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton).

Prince Charles was a pageboy and Princess Anne a bridesmaid:


After the wedding breakfast and the balcony appearance, the newlyweds departed in an open-topped Rolls-Royce to board the royal yacht Britannia at the start of a six-week Caribbean cruise. After their return, they moved into rooms at Kensington Palace.

Prince Charles (far left) and Princess Anne (centre right) helped send the newlyweds on their way:

mercoledì 8 aprile 2015

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall!

Today, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary - happy anniversary! While their wedding has always had a special place in my heart, as far as royal events go, because it was the first I followed with proper, royal-watching interest (I wasn't yet born when Prince Charles married Lady Diana), I am, of course, aware that the topic of the second marriage of the Prince of Wales is still somewhat sensitive, but let's just take the approach the Queen herself took to the matter, when she remarked, during a speech at the wedding reception, that "I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves".

The wedding was originally scheduled for 8 April 2005 at Windsor Castle. Eventually, both the date and location changed, as the Prince of Wales went to Rome to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II, taking place the same day, so the wedding was postponed by a day. It also proved difficul to secure a licence for the Castle (apparently, once one had been granted, the Castle would have to allow other couples who wished to marry there to do so), which meant that the ceremony had to take place at the Guildhall in Windsor, a Grade I listed building by Christopher Wren.

The civil ceremony (necessary as the Duchess was a divorcée) was attended by just 28 guests. Notable absents were the groom's parents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who felt that their presence would prevent the ceremony from being low-key as intended. Prince William and Camilla's son, Tom Parker-Bowles, were witnesses.

Wedding guests: the bride's sister Annabel Shand and daughter Laura Parker-Bowles. 

The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince William and Zara Phillips.

The Countess of Wessex, Princess Beatrice and the Duke of York.

Laura Parker-Bowles (now Lopes) with Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

For the civil ceremony, the bride wore an oyster coloured afternoon dress and coat of by Robinson Valentine. The coat was made of silk, woven with a bakset-weave pattern, while the dress was chiffon decorated round the hem with a fringe of large, round cream sequins. The hat, trimmed with lace and feathers, was by Philip Tracey. The bride accessorised her outfit with a diamond and white gold brooch in the shape of the Prince of Wales' feathers (Her Majesty's Jewel Vault has more info on the piece here), pearl pendant earrings (a pair she still wears quite often to this day), a cream calf leather Launer clutch bag and a pair of nude suede mid-heel courts by none other than L.K. Bennett, years before her step-daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge popularized the style - and the brand!


The civil ceremony was followed by a blessing at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, conducted by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.
For this occasion, while the Prince of Wales kept the same morning dress, changing only the flower in his buttonhole, the Duchess opted for a totally different, more traditionally bridal ensamble.
She wore a shimmering, floor-lenght silvery blue and gold damask coat over a matching chiffon gown embroidered with gold, in a design taken from a piece of jewellery that had been in the collection of her mother, again by designer duo Robinson Valentine, with a magnificent headdress of golden feathers by Philip Treacy. She completed the look with an exquisite pair of diamond pendant earrings in a delicate flower design.

The Queen wore cream to the blessing, and accessorised her coat lapel with her Australian Wattle brooch of white and yellow diamonds:

The bride carried a small posy of lilies-of-the-valley mixed with primroses and Myrtle, designed by Shane Connolly:

 Of course official pictures were taken:

The happy couple with their parents and children:

After the blessing, a reception was held in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle, after which the newlyweds drove off in a car festooned in red, white and blue balloons to spend their honeymoon at Birkhall in Scotland.

Slices of the splendidly iced wedding cake were boxed to be presented to guests:


Birkhall, the honeymoon location, is an estate on Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and was inherited by the Prince of Wales at the death of his grandmother the Queen Mother:

The outfit worn by the Duchess for the blessing was featured last year in the "The Wedding Dress: 300 Years of Bridal Fashions" at the Victoria & Albert Museum: