The word ‘hand-me-down’ has not featured in the royal wedding fashion rule book before, but it does now thanks to Princess Beatrice who up-cycled one of her grandmother’s dresses for her down-sized wedding at Windsor.
In raiding Granny’s royal closet – or her archives to be exact – Beatrice achieved a romantic, modern bridal look full of sentimentality and an homage to vintage sustainability.
Wearing the reconfigured Norman Hartnell evening gown Queen Elizabeth last wore during the State Opening of Parliament in 1966 was a genius move by the 31-year-old princess who hasn’t always enjoyed praise for her fashion choices.
Who can forget her much maligned “toilet seat” headpiece by Irish hat designer Philip Treacy which the then 22-year-old Beatrice wore to Kate and William’s royal wedding in 2011?
It attracted a slew of criticism but the sassy princess turned the media circus on its head by auctioning it online – and the €90,000 that was raised benefited two children’s charities.
The silk taffeta dress was first seen on the queen in December 1962 when she wore it to a performance of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.
The subtle drama in Hartnell’s very feminine gown with its accentuated waist was achieved with a geometric checked bodice with the pattern extending on to the full skirt. The dress was part of an exhibition of the queen’s dresses at Buckingham Palace in 2006.
The transformation from archive piece to fairytale gown for a princess to marry the son of an Italian count saw the addition of one small change – short puff sleeves in sheer organza.
After juggling a cancelled wedding due to Covid-19 and controversy surrounding her father, Prince Andrew, Beatrice walked down the aisle in the diamante-encrusted ivory dress.
The refit was achieved by a palace ‘A team’ – namely designer Stewart Parvin and royal ‘dresser’ Angela Kelly whose outfits the queen wore during her state visit to Ireland in May 2011.
A scouser with Irish roots, Angela’s mother, Teresa Brady, taught her to sew and Kelly has become a key asset on the queen’s team.
With its strong green credentials and family connections, Friday’s vintage wedding look will undoubtedly elevate Princess Beatrice up the rankings of memorable royal wedding dresses.