Wedding Dress Tradition And Queen Elizabeth’s Love

NicoleMaui Photography

Wedding Dress Tradition And Queen Elizabeth’s Love


Wedding dresses are more often than naught, the center piece to most weddings. With that being the case, can you imagine if that wedding was a royal one? We often think of beautiful gowns made from the finest of materials. That hasn’t always been the case. Sometimes it’s the love affair that overshadows the dress. That was evident in the love between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.


Queen Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were distant cousins that met each other when the Queen was just a 13-year old princess. It was known that Elizabeth was completely smitten with Philip and therefore, not only were they cousins, but also became good friends as evidenced from their letters to each other. Although they had a very long courtship, the couple finally decided to get engaged in 1946, but chose to keep it a secret.


Throughout their courtship, Queen Elizabeth and Philip had a number of things pulling at their relationship. Often royalty married other royalty, whether they were related or not. However, a couple of strikes against Philip was that he was not a wealthy man, as well as he was Greek Orthodox.


Regardless, the thing that brought the most hardship to the couple was that Elizabeth’s mother did not want her to marry Philip. The reason she was so against their impending marriage, was that back in 1946 England had just come out of World War II and even though Philip was not German himself, he did spend some of his school years in Germany. In addition, the word was that Philip’s three sisters had married German Noblemen, in which led others to believe he had some Nazi ties.


Despite her mother’s disapproval, their engagement was announced publicly on July 9, 1947. The wedding took place just four months later on November 20, 1947. Although the war was over, it still caused some problems for the wedding. Elizabeth was eventually allowed to marry Philip; however his German relatives were not allowed to attend the ceremony.


During the war, England had a system of rationing in place. So even though she was royalty, Elizabeth still had to save up her rations for fabric so that she would be able to purchase her wedding dress. Fortunately she was able to get enough rations set aside; otherwise it would not have been a true royal wedding without a spectacular wedding dress.


Her dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, who started to work on the dress three months before the wedding so that it would be done in time. Hartnell started his design with a great understanding for what kind of a dress he had to make. After all, this was for the royal wedding and with that he knew everyone would be watching, so he wanted it to be perfect for Queen Elizabeth’s special day.


After receiving the payment for the dress, Hartnell said he “searched the London art galleries for a classic inspiration and found a Botticelli figure in ivory silk with a trail of smilax, jasmine, syringa and some white rose like flowers.” Finding the right materials for the dress was hard due to the aftermath of the war, so in the end the designer ended up having to order 20,000 pearls from the United States.


The gown’s fabric for the train was satin from a mill at Lullington Castle in England, which he did not want to use at first, but Elizabeth’s mother insisted that it be from there. The body of the wedding dress was a soft Chinese silk from a Scottish firm called Winterthur, which caused a little controversy because they were saying it was made by enemy silk worms from Japan. However, Hartnell was able to prove that the silk was from China. The dress was embroidered with orange blossoms, syringa, white rose and jasmine. Wheat was also included in the design, which represented fertility.


The embroidery also included sparkling crystals and pearls that outlined the neckline, hem, sleeves and the 15-foot train. The dress also included a silk tulle veil, with a small diamond tiara and a simple yet beautiful pearl necklace to wear around her neck. The beautiful bride walked down the aisle of the famous Westminster Abby with her father King George VI.


Elizabeth had a very sweet bouquet that was made of white orchids with some sprigs of myrtle, which had come from the bush that Queen Victoria had planted and grown from her own wedding bouquet. After the wedding the bride placed her sweet bouquet at the grave of the Unknown Soldier which is a tradition in England’s royal weddings.