Princess Beatrice Borrows the Queen’s Gown and Wedding Tiara

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Princess Beatrice, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II of England, was married to her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a surprise, private family wedding. Instead of ordering a custom-designed wedding gown as her royal predecessors had in recent years, she went with “something borrowed”: a beautiful vintage gown and wedding tiara she borrowed from the Queen herself.

Princess Beatrice is ninth in line to the throne. She is the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, third child of Queen Elizabeth. She and Edoardo had been planning to marry in May, but their wedding was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They decided to hold a family-only ceremony according to the government guidelines at Royal Lodge, Windsor — her childhood home and the current residence of her parents. The wedding is reported to be the first family event that the Queen and her husband have attended since the pandemic broke out.

Perhaps one of the silver linings of COVID-19 is that it has forced a trend of more quiet, intimate family affairs, and they have their own advantages. While the princess’s wedding plans were disrupted, the crisis opened the possibility of making it into a humble and very special event with particular emphasis on honoring family and respecting tradition. Beatrice’s fashion choices certainly reflect this focus.

The Hartnell gown

Recent royal brides have had wedding gowns crafted for them from scratch. Beatrice, by contrast, opted for breathing new life into a lovely ivory gown of her grandmother’s. The Queen wore that dress to the premiere of the film Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 and the State Opening of the Parliament in 1966. It was designed by Norman Hartnell, the same popular 20th-century designer who created Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress and coronation gown.

The gown is made of Peau De Soie taffeta and organza with Duchess satin trim and encrusted with diamanté. The Queen’s senior dresser Angela Kelly and designer Stewart Parvin adapted, remodeled, and fitted the dress to flatter Princess Beatrice. The most obvious update to the dress is the pair of puffy sleeves — possibly to make the dress more conservative and appropriate for a religious ceremony.

Queen Mary’s diamond fringe tiara

Even more special than the dress is the tiara the Queen loaned the princess. Originally belonging to Queen Mary — Elizabeth II’s grandmother — the tiara was made from diamonds originally set in a necklace Mary received as a wedding gift from her groom’s grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1893. Queen Mary had them reconfigured as a tiara, and they were set in silver and gold in 1919 by E. Wolff and Co. for Garrard. Diamond fringe tiaras were popular in that period, a trend started by the imperial court of the Romanovs in Russia.

Queen Mary gave the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth (mother of Elizabeth II), in 1936. It was she who loaned it to the future queen for her wedding in 1947. The tiara actually suffered a wardrobe malfunction that day: when it was placed on Elizabeth’s head, it snapped and had to be fixed in a hurry by a jeweler from Garrard. You can actually see a small gap just to the right of the center fringe when you look at close-ups photos of the bride.

Fortunately, no similar jewelry emergencies seem to have taken place at Princess Beatrice’s wedding!

A return to family roots through wedding attire

Many brides today prefer to have a dress made especially for them: something current and fashionable. But there is something especially moving about a bride’s choice to wear a gown that belonged to a female ancestor on her wedding day. It signals a wish to honor that ancestor’s legacy and carry it with her into her own future.

It’s especially powerful when a member of the British royal family makes this choice — honoring the legacy of the much-loved Queen Elizabeth II, longest-ruling monarch to sit on the British throne.

Click here to take a look at MyHeritage’s British royal family tree!

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