The 1 Thing Meghan Markle, Princess Diana, and Kate Middleton All Left Out of Their Wedding Vows
What do Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Princess Diana all have in common? Plenty of things — but perhaps the most exciting is their appreciation for modern feminism. (A much-needed counterpoint to the strict traditions and studied neutrality of the British royal family.)
Read on to learn how each woman has made her own way in the royal family, starting with each’s royal wedding. And don’t miss the inside story on the phrase that all three chose to leave out of their vows on page 6.
1. Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton wore gowns by female designers
Both Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton chose wedding attire designed by female designers. As Town & Country reports, Kate wore a bespoke dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Meghan wore a gown by Claire Waight Keller of Givenchy. Both featured long sleeves, but they ultimately looked very different. Kate opted for a long train and a short veil, while Meghan went with a short train and a 16.5-foot veil.
Despite the difference in aesthetics, it was notable both times that the royal brides opted for dresses designed by women. As Town and Country notes, Kate wears clothing and accessories by a variety of female designers not only for special occasions but also for more regular social engagements.
Next: The royal brides also made this feminist choice at their weddings.
2. The brides also hired women for many of the top jobs
In addition to hiring Claire Waight Keller to design her wedding gown — and Stella McCartney to create her reception gown — Meghan Markle put women front and center elsewhere on her wedding day, as Harper’s Bazaar points out. She chose London baker Claire Ptak to create the wedding cake. And she hired royal florist Philippa Craddock to design the beautiful decorations for St. George’s Chapel.
Similarly, Kate Middleton enlisted Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, to create her wedding gown and her reception ensemble. She also hired Fiona Cairns to bake a traditional fruitcake for the wedding cake.
Next: Meghan Markle opted to do this.
3. Meghan Markle walked halfway down the aisle by herself
As Harper’s Bazaar reports, Meghan Markle made another feminist statement when deciding how to walk down the aisle in St. George’s Chapel. Her father couldn’t attend the royal wedding due to ill health (and an international scandal). So Meghan decided to walk down the first half of the aisle by herself.
From there, father-in-law Prince Charles accompanied her to the altar. But Kensington Palace made sure to announce that Charles would “accompany” his daughter-in-law, not “give her away.”
Next: Kate Middleton didn’t enlist a professional to do this.
4. Kate Middleton did her makeup herself
As Elle reports, Kate Middleton famously did her own makeup for her wedding to Prince William. The publication notes that the Duchess of Cambridge “broke from tradition for her nuptials by choosing to do her own make-up after taking lessons from Arabella Preston.” As a wedding planner told People at the time, “Arabella was supposed to be as well but now she isn’t, because Kate’s comfortable and confident in doing it herself.”
Some people thought that Meghan Markle might do the same thing. But as Harper’s Bazaar notes, Meghan hired celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin to do her makeup instead.
Next: Meghan Markle had her mom, not her dad, do this.
5. Meghan traveled with her mother to the wedding
Harper’s Bazaar reports that it’s traditional for the father of the bride to travel with his daughter to the venue. (That’s how Kate Middleton and her father arrived at her wedding.) But Meghan Markle departed from tradition by traveling with her mother, Doria Ragland, to St. George’s Chapel.
The two reportedly decided to arrive together even before Meghan’s father bowed out of the royal wedding. That means that this feminist break with tradition was intentional, not a matter of necessity.
Next: Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Princess Diana all left this wording out of their wedding vows.
6. Meghan, Kate, and Diana all decided against promising to ‘obey’ their husbands
The royal family has many traditions that couples have to follow at royal weddings. But Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Princess Diana all departed from the typical vows that date to the 16th century Book of Prayer, where familiar phrases such as “dearly beloved,” “forever hold his peace,” and “as long as you both shall live” originated.
As Time reports, Meghan Markle decided not to vow to “obey” her new husband. In making that feminist statement, Meghan followed in the footsteps of Princess Diana, who left the phrase out of the vows that she made to Prince Charles. And Kate Middleton, when she married Prince William, also left out the vow of obedience.
Next: Meghan Markle did this at her reception.
7. Meghan delivered a speech of her own at the wedding reception
Harper’s Bazaar reports that traditionally, only men give speeches at wedding receptions. But Meghan Markle didn’t let that stop her from delivering a speech at her wedding reception. “Although Prince Charles and Harry are said to have moved guests to tears with their sweet words, Markle also made sure she did her own speech,” the publication notes. “Although little is known about what she said, she’s thought to have thanked the royal family for being so welcoming.”
Many fans of the new Duchess of Sussex love just how outspoken — and eloquent — she has become, especially on issues related to feminism. The Sun notes that “Diana might have been the first princess to focus on global philanthropy, and Kate has spoken about mental health, but neither matches Meghan’s outspokenness on women’s issues.”
Next: Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle could both do this.
8. Both Kate and Meghan married for love
As Newsweek reports, the feelings of the British public toward Kate Middleton and her place in the royal family are quite complicated. However, many have acknowledged that Kate exemplifies at least one kind of progress for women: the ability to marry for love. (Many will note that Diana did not enjoy that privilege, nor the equity and respect that Kate or Meghan seem to have in their marriages, with The Conversation pointing out her “initial powerlessness within her relationship.”)
As writer Marina Warner tells the publication, Kate illustrates some of the gains of feminism. “The fact that she was able to marry for love, that this was not a dynastic arrangement,” for one. “Whomsoever it was who arranges these things, withdrew their authority. And this is something that women have fought for throughout the ages: to marry whom they please.”
Next: Feminists still have some reservations.
9. Nonetheless, royal weddings are complicated for many feminists
Vox notes that regardless of what a bride says in her vows or who walks her down the aisle, royal weddings are complicated for many feminists. For instance, Meghan Markle chose to give up her job to marry into the royal family. “To some, the choice reveals how retrograde the royal wedding really is,” Vox notes.
Leah McLaren at the Canadian magazine Chatelaine wrote about that side of Meghan and Harry’s story. “It’s a story as old as the hills. When an ambitious young woman gives up her thriving, hard-won career in order to be a charity wife for one of history’s most screwed up family firms, it’s a bit rich to throw a parade in the name of feminism and human rights.” And Kate doesn’t escape criticism, either. Time even contends that for many feminists, Kate “stands for everything we disavow; beauty as value, marriage as achievement, procreation as purpose.”
Next: Most women probably don’t identify with Kate or Meghan.
10. And neither Kate nor Meghan exemplifies the modern woman
Despite the nods toward feminism at each royal wedding, neither Kate not Meghan offers a perfect example of the modern woman. As The Guardian notes, Kate became known for her “patience in waiting for her royal beau to come around and marry, her fashion choices, and her lack of focus on a career.” Plus, Kate “is hardly representative of a modern woman. Women today have to work (both by choice and out of necessity) and ideally, today’s women don’t wait around for men to shape up (although this is the very stuff of romantic fairytales, modern and antiquated).”
Meghan Markle placed much more of a focus on building a career before her marriage to Prince Harry. But The Globe and Mail points out, “even though Ms. Markle was successful in her own right,” that’s not why she’s notable. We talk about her “not for her own achievements but because she is marrying a man whose place in society is secured by virtue of his birth rather than his abilities.”
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