A far cry from Rachel Zane’s favourite pencil skirt/blouse combo, Meghan Markle pulled out all the stops at the weekend, with a Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy gown, and all the royal trimmings to match. Rumour has it Australia and New Zealand even got a special shout-out on the regal robe.
Ms. Markle, now formally The Duchess of Sussex, requested sketches and samples from a handful of leading British designers, keeping the guessing game alive until she stepped out of the car at St George’s Chapel. All bets were off, as it was revealed that Meghan’s dress was designed by the acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller. After serving at Pringle of Scotland and Chloé, Ms. Waight Keller became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy, last year. Word is that Meghan and Clare didn’t meet until January this year, proving that anything is possible when The Queen’s approval and expensive silk is at stake.
Rivalling Princess Diana’s train at more than 16 feet long, Meghan’s veil was made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza. But these are no regular flowers; there is different and unique floral design for each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. This was a specific request from The Duchess as she wanted to express her gratitude for the opportunity to support the work of the Commonwealth. New Zealand was represented by a kowhai flower, and Australia by golden wattles. In addition to the Commonwealth designs, Meghan also had two other special requests; Wintersweet, which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace, and the California Poppy, the State flower from Meghan’s hometown, California.
Holding Meghan’s sizable veil in place was Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, a loan straight from The Queen’s own jewellery vault. The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the centre brooch dating from 1893, a gift from the County of Lincoln when the then Princess Mary married Prince George. If marrying a prince wasn’t dreamy enough, the sparkly tiara certainly takes the wedding cake.
The Bridal Bouquet
Designed by florist Philippa Craddock, the royal posy was a bouquet of heartfelt acknowledgements and sweet sentiments. In the spring blooms were Forget-Me-Nots, Princess Diana’s favourite flower. The couple specifically requested these little blue darlings to honour Harry’s late mother on their special day. The bouquet also included scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia, and myrtle, bound together with a raw silk ribbon. The myrtle sprigs are from stems planted by Queen Victoria herself, and from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s own wedding bouquet. Princess Diana passed her love of flora (and thoughtful gestures) down to The Prince, as he handpicked several flowers from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to Meghan’s special bouquet.
The Reception Gown
In keeping with Meghan’s first dress, her second gown was embellishment free, continuing the theme of simple elegance. However, the Stella McCartney original was a lot more revealing that Meghan’s round one number, with a high halter neckline and an open back. McCartney, again not a front runner of gown guesses, is a natural choice for The Duchess. The designer is an advocate for female empowerment, and sustainable fashion, two things the newlywed Royals care deeply about. Like mother, like daughter; Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, also wore a Stella McCartney outfit for the reception.
The Something Blue
No party is complete without the accompaniment of a few glam accessories, and the Royal reception was no exception. First spotted on Meghan’s finger, as she and Harry drove away in the electric Jaguar E-Type, was Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring, a nod to the tradition of ‘something blue.’ The ring is another acknowledgment of Meghan’s late mother-in-law, fiercely loved by her boys. Meghan’s Aquazurra shoes were her other ‘something blue’, with their baby blue soles peaking out from under her flowing gown.