Last month during Ascot, the Earl and Countess of Wessex celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. Let’s belatedly celebrate their anniversary with a peek back at their wedding.
When Prince Edward and Sophie married on June 19, 1999 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the couple had dated for eight years. Their wedding reflected the maturity that comes when marrying in one’s 30s and appeared to be a deliberate departure from the grand scale Windsor weddings of Edward’s elder siblings. Nowhere was this departure more evident than in the bride’s dress (no 1980s bow-covered meringue here!). Designed by Samantha Shaw, the gown was a medieval inspired dress coat with a deep v-neckline, long bell shaped sleeves and a slim silhouette. Made of hand-dyed ivory silk organza and silk crepe, the coat was embellished with several hundred thousand pearl and cut-glass beads and swept into a modest train. For the private party following the ceremony, the coat was removed to reveal a simple silk dress.
Sophie topped her dress with a long gossamer silk organza veil studded with seed pearls; the veil caught the wind when she exited St. George’s Chapel and its delicacy was shown to full effect. Her pearl earrings and necklace with cross pendant, also in a Medieval style, were a gift designed by Prince Edward. Her tiara was a surprise as it was a ‘new’ piece made of four separate Victorian pieces from Queen Elizabeth’s private collection (you can read more about it here).
The four young bridesmaids and pages wore outfits inspired by the Knights of the Order of the Garter, complete with black velvet Tudor bonnet-inspired headpieces trimmed with a plume of white ostrich feathers on the young ladies. The unusual choice of attire for the children was a nice connection to the wedding chapel (St. George’s is the chapel of the Order of the Garter) and gave us one of the only royal weddings with hat-wearing attendants!
While the vast majority of British royal weddings take place in the morning where morning suits, day dresses and hats are required, Edward and Sophie married in the late afternoon; the dress code for the wedding was full-length formal wear with no hats. Old habits die hard, however, as was evidenced by headgear sported on several of Prince Edward’s relatives. Queen Elizabeth wore a beaded 1920s flapper style headpiece with a spray of sweeping lavender feathers designed by Frederick Fox. This remains one of the only times the Queen wore a fascinator and I think it was wonderfully sassy on her.
The Queen Mother ignored the dress code (as is the prerogative of anyone 99 years of age) and wore a mauve hat trimmed in coordinating osprey feathers. I’m not a fan of the spiky feathers covering the entire hat but I’m a great fan of the Queen Mother’s unapologetic sense of both style and tradition so I’m not going to complain.
The Duchess of Kent wore a feathered fascinator in white, tan and chocolate while Princess Anne topped her green ensemble with a spray of upright green feathers. My favourite fascintor of the day, however, was the pale pink headpiece organza bow loops Lady Romsey tucked into the back of her elegant hairstyle. Feathers sticking out of the back of one’s head have a tendency to look like a rooster but Lady Romsey’s headpiece hit exactly the right note.
While this was not a wedding of memorable hats, I am curious, dear readers – what did you think of the headpieces?
Photos from The Royal Forums; John Stillwell, Anwar Hussein, Anwar Hussein, Anwar Hussein, Ian Waldie, Gerry Penny, AFP/Stringer; and Ian Waldie via Getty; UPPA, UPPA, UPPA and UPPA via The Royal Forums; Tim Graham via Getty and Camera Press via The Daily Mail