The Secret History Of Princess Beatrice’s Wedding Dress, Originally Made For The Queen

Unlike other royal brides, Beatrice chose not to commission a designer to make something new.

princess beatrice wedding dress norman hartnell

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

Princess Beatrice may have married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a secret ceremony on Friday, July 17 2020, but the couple decided not to publish any photographs from the wedding to avoid overshadowing Captain Tom Moore, who was knighted by the Queen on the very same day. But the photographs, taken by Benjamin Wheeler, were eventually released, showing that Beatrice chose a vintage dress by Norman Hartnell, on loan from her grandmother the Queen.

princess beatrice wedding dress the queen
Edoardo and Beatrice on their wedding day

A statement from the Palace explained that the dress is 'made from Peau De Soie taffeta in shades of ivory and trimmed with ivory Duchess satin, with organza sleeves. It is encrusted with diamanté and has a geometric checked bodice.' It had been altered for Princess Beatrice, who chose to add organza sleeves, which were made by the Queen's own dressmaker Angela Kelly, along with the designer Stewart Parvin.

This small amendment ensured the dress looked thoroughly modern, despite the fact that the Queen first wore it over 50 years ago. It was, said Beatrice on Twitter, 'an honour' to wear the dress, which has since been on display to the general public at Windsor Castle.

the queen norman hartnell dress
The Queen wearing the dress in 1962 ©Getty Images

The Queen has worn the dress on several occasions in the past, most notably to the premiere for Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. For that event, the dress was longer, with a more voluminous hem and, of course, without the sleeves. Hartnell became one of the most famous royal couturiers and was known as the 'king of bling' in the 1950s and '60s, thanks to his intricate embellishments on gowns. For Beatrice to pick this particular dress for her wedding was undoubtedly a tribute to her grandmother, the Queen, who frequently wore Hartnell's designs.

The Queen and Prince Philip on their wedding day in 1947 ©Getty Images

In fact, Hartnell designed the Queen's own wedding dress in 1947. Famously, the Queen saved her rationing coupons to buy the material for her dress, like any other bride at the time in post-war Britain. The government gave her an extra 200 to help and the end result was a gown made by Hartnell from ivory silk, duchesse satin, crystals, 10,000 seed pearls and a 15ft train. With it, the Queen wore the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, which belonged to her grandmother.

Originally made in 1919 for Queen Mary by Garrard and Co, it was fashioned from a diamond necklace that was given by Queen Victoria. Princess Beatrice also chose to wear this tiara for her own wedding day, ensuring her full bridal look paid homage to the Queen.

princess beatrice wedding the queen

Having been forced to cancel their original wedding plans due to Covid-19, Beatrice and Edoardo, now expecting their first child, decided to hold a small private ceremony, which Buckingham Palace said was attended by the Queen, Prince Philip and the couples' parents and siblings. Edoardo's son, Wolfie, acted as best man and pageboy. The Palace also stated that the service took place within government guidelines, with no hymns sung.

SEE: The Best Royal Wedding Dresses Throughout History


Royal wedding dresses through history - Grazia

Royal wedding dresses1 of 18

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.

Royal wedding dresses2 of 18

Victoria, Princess Royal, 1858

Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria, wed Prince Frederick William of Prussia, in January 1858 wearing a rich white moire antique decorated with three flounces of Honiton lace designed to resemble bouquets of rose, shamrock and thistle in three medallions. Each flounce of the dress had a wreath of orange and myrtle blossoms, which were the bridal flower of Germany.

Royal wedding dresses3 of 18

Princess Beatrice, 1885

For her wedding to Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885, Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, wore a fashionable white satin dress, trimmed with lace (which the Princess is said to have loved) and orange blossom. She was the only of Victoria's daughters to wear her mother's veil down the aisle, too.

Royal wedding dresses4 of 18

Princess Mary of Teck, Queen consort, 1893

The future Queen Mary's wedding dress was designed by Arthur Silver of the Silver Studio, whose designs epitomised the Art Nouveau look. Her classic gown was embroidered with roses, shamrocks and thistles, with the choice of orange blossom for the trim echoed in small wreaths adorning her neckline and her hair. Her 'something old' was a small piece of Honiton lace from her mother's own wedding gown, with diamond jewellery from future mother-in-law Queen Victoria ticking off 'something borrowed.'

Royal wedding dresses5 of 18

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother, 1923

The future Queen Mother's wedding dress was quintessentially 1920s in style, with a simple drop waist. Designed by Madame Handley-Seymour, the dressmaker to Queen Mary, it was made of ivory silk crepe and embroidered with pearls. Her Flanders lace veil was held in place by a wreath of orange blossom and white roses, the latter a nod to the her future title of Duchess of York.

Royal wedding dresses6 of 18

Queen Elizabeth II, 1947

Court couturier Norman Hartnell described the wedding gown of the then-Princess Elizabeth as 'the most beautiful dress I had so far made.' Patterned with stars and floral embellishments, the dress – and its 13 foot train – was said to be inspired by Botticelli's Primavera, and to symbolise the nation's rebirth following the war. As clothing rationing was still in place (even for a Princess), Elizabeth had to purchase the fabric with ration coupons (though she was inundated with coupons from young women across the country, she had to return them to their owners).

Royal wedding dresses7 of 18

Princess Margaret, 1960

When Princess Margaret married photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, she opted for a design by royal couturier Norman Hartnell. Comprising 30 metres of silk organza, the dress's simple shape and clean lines were designed to flatter the Princess's petite frame.

Royal wedding dresses8 of 18

Princess Anne, 1973

Ahead of her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips, Princess Anne seemed to take sartorial inspiration from times past, specifically the court of Queen Elizabeth I: her wedding gown, designed by Maureen Baker for Susan Small, featured a Tudor-style high neck and sweeping, almost medieval sleeves.

Royal wedding dresses9 of 18

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1981

Lady Diana Spencer's now-iconic 1981 wedding dress set bridal trends for years to come, with its puffed sleeves, 25-foot train and full skirt. Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the ivory silk taffeta gown was embellished with tiny sequins and pearls in a heart motif.

Royal wedding dresses10 of 18

Sarah, Duchess of York, 1986

Lindka Cierach designed this quintessentially '80s wedding dress for Sarah Ferguson's wedding to Prince Andrew. Made from ivory duchesse satin, it boasted a 17 foot long train embroidered with bees and thistles (a nod to her family's crest) and anchors and waves (symbolizing Prince Andrew's naval career). The York Diamond tiara which Fergie wore on the day was commissioned especially for her by her mother-in-law, the Queen.

Royal wedding dresses11 of 18

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 1999

Samantha Shaw was tasked with designing and making a dress for the wedding of Sophie Rhys-Jones (now the Countess of Wessex) to the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward. The long-sleeved style was embellished with 325,000 cut glass and pearl beads.

Royal wedding dresses12 of 18

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 2005

Camilla's embroidered coat in pale blue and gold and matching chiffon gown were designed by Robinson Valentine for her wedding to the Prince of Wales at St George's Chapel, Windsor. Her statement headpiece – which featured Swarowski diamonds – was the handiwork of the royal family's favourite milliner, Philip Treacy.

Royal wedding dresses13 of 18

Autumn Phillips, 2008

Canadian-born Autumn Kelly opted for a classic gown by British designer Sassi Holford, which featured a bodice fashioned from hand-beaded lace and a silk duchesse skirt, worn with a beaded shrug. The Festoon tiara which the bride wore on the day was borrowed from the collection of her mother-in-law, Princess Anne.

Royal wedding dresses14 of 18

Zara Tindall, 2011

Zara Phillips wore a simple, classic gown with a full skirt and corseted bodice by Stewart Parvin, one of her grandmother the Queen's favourite couturiers, when she married rugby player Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh. The diamond tiara was the bride's 'something borrowed,' a loan from her mother Princess Anne.

Royal wedding dresses15 of 18

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, 2011

Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen landed the biggest fashion gig of the century so far when she was chosen by Kate Middleton to design a dress for her Westminster Abbey wedding to Prince William. The gown itself was made from ivory satin with long lace sleeves and floral motifs which were cut from machine-made lace then appliqued onto silk net by workers at the Royal School of Needlework.

Royal wedding dresses16 of 18

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 2018

We all know that Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller designed Meghan Markle's wedding dress, but there's a fun fact about the detailing. The flowers embroidered into the veil represent the 53 nations of the Commonwealth, a nod to Prince Harry's role as Youth Ambassador.

Royal wedding dresses17 of 18

Princess Eugenie of York, 2018

Princess Eugenie had a very particular request when it came to her wedding dress, which designer Peter Pilotto accommodated. He designed her dress with a low-back as to reveal the scars from her scoliosis surgery.

Royal wedding dresses18 of 18

Lady Gabriella Windsor, 2019

Lady Gabriella Windsor walked down the aisle in a Luisa Beccaria gown, which as made "entirely in Valencienne écru lace layered with ribbons of flowers and buds" says the designer.

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