Will the bride wear Erdem? Ralph & Russo? Perhaps Burberry or McQueen? When she walks down the aisle of St George’s Chapel tomorrow, all eyes will be on Meghan Markle as her wedding dress is finally revealed after months and months of speculation, suspended betting and palace whispers.
For the royal family, tradition is, of course, of the greatest importance, and it certainly won’t be a surprise if Meghan’s gown features a number of nods to royal brides from times past. Indeed, Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen gown, with its long lace sleeves, full skirt and cinched waist, has drawn comparisons to the Norman Hartnell creation worn by her grandmother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day in 1947.
So, what makes a classic royal wedding dress? Fashions may come and go (Princess Diana’s iconic Emanuel confection, which set the gold standard for ‘80s brides with its puffed sleeves and jaw-dropping train, is certainly a case in point) but a royal bride’s gown tends to follow a time-honoured formula: white or ivory satin, maybe a smattering of tulle and lace (made in a workshop in Honiton, East Devon), often with long sleeves and plenty of beaded embellishments. It goes (almost) without saying, too, that the designer will be British, or at least based in the UK (though as an American with strong ties to Canada, who is to say that Meghan won't shake things up a little with her choice?).
With royal wedding anticipation reaching fever pitch, below are just some of the memorable bridal dresses that might have inspired Meghan's choice, from Queen Victoria's simple white style to Princess Margaret's timeless long-sleeved ensemble to Princess Diana's trend-setting fairytale gown...
Queen Victoria, 1840
Queen Victoria is one of just two British Queens to have married while reigning (the other is Queen Mary). For her wedding to Prince Albert at St James' Palace, the young Queen chose a simple off-the-shoulder style in white satin, with a flounce of Honiton lace at the neckline. Instead of a coronet, she wore a simple orange blossom garland.