With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s highly-anticipated royal wedding coming up on 19 May, it’s easy to see why the world is gripped by wedding fever. We’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and learn more about some of the most iconic royal weddings. From Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding to her son Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 nuptials, check out our guide to some of the best royal weddings from history
Where: Palace of Monaco
When: 18 April 1956
It sounds like something straight out of a 50s Hollywood movie – American actress Grace Kelly was swept off her feet by Prince Rainier of Monaco and they were married just eight months later. Grace Kelly was a vision in vintage lace and silk, wearing a dress that took MGM costume designers over six weeks to craft, and they were married by the Bishop of Monaco at St Nicholas Cathedral. Instead of opting for a horse-drawn carriage like their British royal counterparts, they decided to hop in a convertible Rolls Royce to greet the public as newlyweds.
Where: Westminster Abbey
When: November 1947
Netflix aficionados and fans of The Crown, this one goes out to you. Queen Elizabeth – who was actually a princess at the time – married her distant cousin Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947 at Westminster Abbey. They were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are said to have received over 2500 gifts, as well as 10000 global telegrams. While everything went smoothly at the ceremony, Elizabeth actually snapped her tiara right before the wedding and the royal jeweller had to be called in to fix it at the last minute.
Where: Westminster Abbey
When: May 1960
Although Princess Margaret and Captain Peter Townsend’s affair is now heavily romanticised, it’s Margaret’s wedding that changed everything. It was the first ever televised wedding, drawing millions of eyeballs to her nuptials around the world, and public interest was at an all time high given that she was marrying a non-royal named Anthony Armstrong Jones, a photographer. Dressed in what was once hailed the ‘simplest royal wedding gown in history’, the marriage unfortunately didn’t last.
Where: Westminster Abbey
When: April 2011
When Prince William and his university sweetheart Kate Middleton were married, all of London came to a standstill. The couple were married in Westminster Abbey and it was just as grand as you’d expect it to be, complete with a royal procession, A-list celebrities and an uncharacteristically joyful Queen Elizabeth. The sight of Kate Middleton sweeping past in her unforgettable lacy Alexander McQueen dress launched the wedding dreams of thousand young women, forever setting the bar for wedding dress fashion. After the ceremony, the couple retired to Buckingham Palace and many of the day’s most iconic photographs were snapped as they stepped out onto one of its balconies to wave at the public.
Where: St Paul’s Cathedral
When: July 1981
Although Diana and Charles didn’t have the happiest of marriages, their wedding day was a landmark occasion. They were married in St Paul’s Cathedral in a traditional and was widely hailed as ‘the wedding of the century’, attracting over one billion viewers across the world. While the wedding was largely traditional, one major change the couple made was a massive step forwards: they both decided to remove the word ‘obey’ from Diana’s vows, breaking with tradition. The couple were married for over a decade, then separated in 1992 before their divorce was finalised in 1996.
Where: Windsor Castle
When: May 2018
Although this wedding hasn’t happened yet, we’re betting it’s going to go down in history. There’s a lot of excitement for Harry and Meghan’s nuptials as Harry is largely viewed as one of the most progressive members of the royal family, setting an example for the modern monarchy. They will be married in Windsor Castle in May and are expected to attract an eclectic crowd, from politicians through to Meghan’s own Hollywood friends.
Where: Monaco Palace
Kate and Will weren’t the only royals to captivate the primetime. In the same year, Prince Albert II of Monaco married Olympian Charlene Wittstock (who was rumoured to have tried to run away a few days before the wedding). Luckily, she stuck around to marry her beau in a three day shindig that cost a jaw-dropping $70 million and attracted the likes of Naomi Campbell. Did we mention they paid for The Eagles to perform?
Another 2011 marriage (was something in the water?), this time on the other side of the world. King Jigme, also known as Bhutan’s Dragon King, married Jestun Pema in a lavish three day ceremony that featured performances by over 500 people spanning several hours. His wife took to the spotlight well, signing autographs after the nuptials, and the King seemed smitten and said: ‘It doesn’t matter when you get married, as long as it is to the right person. I am certain I am married to the right person.’
Where: Abu Dhabi
Go big or go home appears to be something Sheikh Mohammed really took to heart. The royal really splashed out on his ceremony and even built a 20,000 seat stadium specifically to host the seven days of celebrations, costing a lavish $100,000.
Where: Chapel Royal, St James’ Palace
Casting our minds way back to the 1840s, Queen Victoria’s wedding to her cousin Prince Albert was an absolute trend-setter. Rather than the colourful wedding dresses that were the norm at the time, she broke with tradition and opted for a big white dress, paired with a lace veil and orange blossom hair accessory. Sound familiar? Well, her wedding had such an impact that she wound up kickstarting the whole wedding white dress tradition.