Royal Wedding Gowns – British Embroidery

Welcome our Royal Wedding Gown feature, where we look at royal gowns from a different perspective. Today we’ll talk about how embroidery can transform an ordinary bridal look into that worthy of a royal wedding. We will focus on three British weddings.

Sadly, it is worth noting that photos, even high-quality photos, can’t reveal all of the nuances of embroidered elements. In some cases, we’ll have to rely on descriptions from those who have seen the gowns in person.

Previous entries in this series include Danish Heirloom Lace , Royal Wedding Venues, Venue Size and Scale, Historical and Artistic References, and Orange Blossoms.

Bride: Princess Elizabeth
Designer: Norman Hartnell

This is the grandmother of all symbolically embroidered gowns. Initially, there were fears that the entire wedding would be a quiet and reduced scale affair. The country was still under rationing, but royalty being what it is, Princess Elizabeth was allowed an additional 200 coupons for the creation of her dress. She then engaged Norman Hartnell, the king of exuberant embroidery, to design her gown. Fears of a grim, ration-induced celebration and un-embellished gown were set to rest.

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The overall theme of the dress is rebirth and growth after World II, and Hartnell used Botticelli’s Renaissance masterpiece Primavera as an inspiration. He blanketed the bodice and skirt with diamanté-encrusted star flowers, roses, jasmine blossoms and ears of wheat using thousands of seed pearls, silver thread, crystals, and tulle appliqués.   The dress included an unusual silk tulle train, embroidered in a star pattern, which was starkly visible when viewed against the dark flooring of the Abbey. It is a lot of embroidery, and a heavy dose of symbolism – the message of Queen-to-be and country beginning anew is strong.

Primavera/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Bride: Princess Mary
Designers: Messrs Raville

1922: From left to right; Queen Mary, King George V, with their daughter Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, the Princess Royal, and Viscount Lascelle, 6th Earl of Harewood, on their wedding day. (Photo by W. & D. Downey/Getty Images)

World War I was fresh in the collective memory of Britain when Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, married Viscount Lascelle. The Princess elected to pay honor the British Empire with the embroidery of her dress. The symbols in the gown reflected the contributions of the Empire and Dominions to the Allied cause during the First World War.

Princess Mary’s wedding gown is to be of cloth of silver of magnificent design. The material was bought by the Queen from India some years ago and is described as a triumph of native manufacturing

The Associated Press

 The hand-woven ivory silk as embroidered with floral symbols, including the maple from Canada, the lotus from India, the wattle from Australia and the fern from New Zealand.

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Bride: Meghan Markle
Designer: Clare Waight Keller
, for Givenchy

Meghan Markle was an American marrying a British prince, and both their wedding and her wedding dress were highly anticipated. She chose to announce her new-found commitment to husband, family, and country by wearing a veil that embodied the elements of her new role. The Prince and the Duchess of Sussex are Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors. To emphasize the importance of this role, Clare Waight Keller designed the 16-foot veil with embroidered signature flowers from the 53 Commonwealth countries. In a nod to Duchess’ home state, a California poppy was also included. According to the Duchess, the veil details were a secret to everyone prior to her entrance, and she reported later that Prince Harry, in particular, was touched and delighted by the thoughtful inclusion.

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Detail of Veil, Screen Capture Pedestrian TV

Which of these showcases the best symbolic use of embroidery?

Happy Birthday Mette-Marit!

Crown Princess Mette-Marit was born on August 19th, 1973, which makes today her 46th birthday! So in honor of this special occasion, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at “pre-engagement/engagement” Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby.

Here she is heading to work in July of 2000, about three months before the news of their eventual engagement was announced.

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And here they are after it was announced that they would be getting formally engaged at some point, but not just yet, in October of 2000.

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And finally the official engagement on December 1st, 2000.

Photo: Pinterest

Now it’s your turn! Help us celebrate her big day by sharing your favorite photos in the comments!


Royal Rooms – Living Room at Skaugum

Housekeeping note: We want to thoroughly celebrate Mette-Marit’s birthday here at the Bag, so Bits and Bobs will show up on Tuesday!

We royal watchers see so many photos of royals in their homes that some of the rooms become as familiar to us as the royals themselves. This one is highlighted for our girl’s Mette-Marit’s birthday, and also for our LiL, who loves both MM and this room.

The living room at Skaugum during the time Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja lived at the estate.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit live at the Skaugum Estate, in the Asker municipality southwest of Oslo. Skaugum originally belonged to the convent of Nonneseter and Mariakirken. In 1929, Crown Prince Olav married Princess Märtha, and the couple was presented with Skaugum as an official residence. The following year the main building burned down. Arnstein Arneberg was commissioned to design the new house, and it was completed in 1932. The designer did not rebuild the house in any type of homage, instead he intended to reflect the transition from the Neo-Classicism to Functionalism. The result is a beautiful, light filled residence.

Skaugum, 1921, before the fire. Wikimedia Commons.
Skaugum, 1932, after the rebuild. Wikimedia Commons.

King Olav V lived at Skaugum until 1968. Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja moved in that same year and remained there until summer 2001, when they moved into their newly renovated apartments at the Royal Palace. The estate went through a year of renovations, and Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were able to move in during December 2003.

Another view of the room during Harald and Sonja’s residence.

The room has been photographed a lot during the last thirty years or so, and deservedly so. Although estate is large (it sits on 120 acres of agricultural lands, including 120 acres of woodlands and several additional structures), the main house has a welcoming atmosphere and the living room is particularly attractive. The room is anchored by a large fireplace, and three of the four walls contain bookshelves. There are large windows on the often unseen exterior wall that allow a lot of natural light to enter the room.

Haakon and Mette Marit in their early days at Skaugum
Royal House of Norway

The decor of the room has evolved with each set of occupants. Harald and Sonja selected glass topped coffee and end tables, a traditional oriental style rug, and couches trimmed with thick fringe in the style of the times. The early photos of Haakon and Mette Marit’s years at Skaugum show couches covered with plush brown fabric, and a tufted light brown ottoman. Practical choices for a family with three younger children.

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More recently, the room has been lightened up further by the introduction of light, almost white couches and a lovely botanical fabric covered ottoman. The ottoman is also covered with books, more proof of Mette Marit’s obsession with reading. The rug has also been lightened up considerably.

Mette Marit in the living room at Skaugum, indulging in her favorite hobby.
Royal House of Norway

It’s obvious Mette Marit loves her living room, and it’s understandable why. It’s a beautiful spot. If you would like to learn more, Royal Central has an excellent post on the estate.

What do you think of this royal room? Is it a place you could see yourself?


Random Royaling – Staatsfeiertag

We don’t talk about Liechtenstein very often, but there is one holiday a year where the royal family is out in full force. That is Staatsfeiertag, or National Day. National Day is celebrated on August 15. It was established by law in 1990, to take advantage of a current bank holiday, the Feast of the Assumption, and to honor the birthday of Prince Franz Josef, who had died in 1989.

There are various celebrations, but the royals appear on the lawn in front of Vaduz Castle. This year was of particular note, as the celebrations mark the 300th anniversary of the country. So let’s take a peek at who was there this year.

The current monarch, Prince Hans-Adam, and his consort, Princess Marie, in blue, lead the way. Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein, and his wife, Princess Sophie, are in the background with their children.

Three of the grandchildren of the monarch are below. It’s also nice to get a peek of Hans-Adam’s second son, Prince Maximilian, and his American born wife, Princess Angela. Their very handsome son, Prince Alfons, is with them. They live primarily private lives and it’s rare to see much of them.

Here is a view of most of the family, with a good look at the lovely dresses of Princess Sophie, Princess Marie and Princess Marie-Caroline. Also, a glimpse of some of the official speechifying. Just your typical family outing, right?

If you are interested in Liechtenstein in general, check out this article. Some cool, unusual facts you can wow the family with!


Battle of the Tiaras – Daughter-In-Law Edition

The last few weeks we’ve run down a few of the tiaras given to some royal daughters-in-law. Time to see which is your favorite!

The Alexandrine Diamond Drop Tiara

Catch up on it’s history and poll results here.

The York Diamond Tiara

Catch up on it’s history and poll results here.

The Diamond Daisy Tiara

Catch up on it’s history and poll results here.

Which tiara is your favorite?