From Queen Elizabeth’s post-war gown to Meghan Markle’s elegant modern gown, royal wedding dresses embody both the bridal fashion of the day and the personality of each bride.
Over the decades, these iconic gowns have held a place in history, inspiring knock-off designs.
As royal brides transitioned from innocent debutantes to independent women, their wedding dresses reflected this evolution.
Royal wedding gowns that made history
Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress: spring design
When Princess Elizabeth married Philip in 1947, Britain was recovering from the rationing of World War II.
Her dress, made by Norman Hartnell, became a symbol of economic recovery.
The open neckline, long sleeves and fluted skirt accentuated Elizabeth’s figure, while the skirt and veil incorporated embroidered symbols of spring.
Hartnell based her design on Botticelli’s painting Primavera.
This fairytale dress presented a vision of renewed prosperity and traditional femininity.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress: fairytale creation
In contrast to Elizabeth’s delicate gown, Diana’s 1981 gown was overtly romantic.
Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the silk taffeta creation featured the iconic ’80s puffed sleeves, flounced skirt and ruffled neckline.
Accentuating Diana’s youth and innocence, the dress spawned countless replicas and carved a niche in popular culture.
It’s sweetheart neckline and a long train created a bridal ideal, while the ruffles humanized Diana’s bridal image.
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress: demure elegance
Kate’s long-sleeved lace gown evoked a timeless elegance.
Designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, the dress featured a fitted bodice, elegant sleeves, and a pleated skirt.
The dress, which honored tradition through its conservative styling while hinting at Middleton’s modernity through her designer label, drew praise for its refined restraint.
The soft fabric and delicate embroidered lace conveyed Middleton’s British essence.
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress: modern minimalism
In contrast to the ornate detailing of her predecessors’ gowns, Meghan opted for pure simplicity.
Her Givenchy dress had minimal decoration and a boat neckline that enhanced Meghan’s signature style.
The fabric fitted her figure, skimming her shoulders and cinching her hips before flowing into a modest train.
Meghan completed the simple look with a delicate tiara and veil, focusing attention on her face rather than the intricacies of lace or beading.
This understated aesthetic reflected Meghan’s confidence and subtle sophistication.
As each royal bride enters history, her wedding dress captures her style and personality for a fascinated audience.
Although each gown followed bridal fashion, each gown was a unique statement of the woman who wore it.
These iconic wedding gowns continue to inspire fascination around the world as enduring symbols of their royal brides.