Queen Elizabeth’s Stunningly Ornate Wedding Dress Had Surprisingly Humble Origins

These days, royal weddings cost millions of dollars. It is estimated that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding came with a price tag of over $40 million dollars – a mind-boggling amount of money for anyone to spend on one event. Prince William and Kate Middleton had a pretty lavish celebration themselves, which cost about $30 million dollars, with almost half a million dollars being spent on Kate’s iconic wedding gown.

The royal family members have weddings that the rest of us can only dream of, and it’s easy for fans around the world to assume that money is no object. After all, there are horse-drawn carriages, stunningly decorated venues, and jaw-dropping cakes that are incorporated into the special day. However, one of the most anticipated aspects of any royal wedding is the dress that the bride will be wearing. There is no doubt that each royal bride will look absolutely spectacular, with gowns that are custom made by the world’s top designers.

The royals tend to spare no expense on wedding dresses, and for years, many fans may have assumed that Queen Elizabeth II wore an extremely expensive gown herself. Yet, as shocking as it may be, the queen’s stunningly ornate wedding dress had surprisingly humble origins.

Royal wedding dresses are simply beautiful

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their royal wedding.
Prince Harry & Meghan Markle at their wedding | Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

If there is one thing that we can always count on when it comes to a royal wedding, it’s that the dress will be spectacular. Back in 2011, Kate Middleton stepped out of her car wearing a dress fit for a future queen, which Town & Country reports as being designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, with Kate herself giving plenty of input on how she wanted the gown to look.

The Victorian-inspired dress featured a V-neck design with long lace sleeves and a 9-foot train. Years later, Meghan Markle didn’t disappoint when she arrived at St. George’s chapel in a sleek, simple, and stunning dress by Givenchy. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the dress featured a boatneck and three-quarter length sleeves, with a veil that stole the show. The amazing dress wasn’t exactly inexpensive, costing well over $100,000.

Royal wedding dresses are top secret

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29 April 2011

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When most women get married, they are beyond excited about choosing a dress to wear. As a result of this, they often don’t keep things secret until the day of the wedding. Brides tend to go shopping with their close friends, and they often reveal details of the gown to other friends and family members well before the wedding.

Traditionally, the only person who doesn’t know anything about the dress until the moment the bride walks down the aisle is the person she is getting married to. By contrast, details of royal wedding dresses are top secret, with no details being shared ahead of time. Even the designer’s friends and family don’t know that they have been asked to design one of the most important dresses in history.

The humble origins of Queen Elizabeth II’s dress

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As requested by some of you, here's more information on The Queen's wedding dress. The wedding dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, who submitted designs for the dress, one of which was approved in mid-August, less than three months before the wedding. Hartnell cited Botticelli's famous painting Primavera, which symbolises the coming of spring, as his inspiration for the design. Due to rationing measures in place following World War Two, the then Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing ration coupons to pay for her dress. The dress has a simple cut with fitted bodice, heart-shaped neckline with a low v-pointed waist and a floor-length panelled skirt. It was made from duchesse satin, ordered from the firm of Wintherthur, near Dunfermline in Scotland. The dress has a 15-foot silk tulle full court train, which was attached at the shoulders, is embroidered in pearl, crystal and transparent applique tulle embroidery. The satin for the applique was produced at Lullingstone Castle in Kent and woven by Warner & Sons. Princess Elizabeth's outfit was completed with ivory duchesse satin high-heeled sandals, trimmed with silver and seed pearl buckles, made by Edward Rayne. The bride's bouquet, offered to the Princess by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, was made with white Cattleya, Odontoglossum and Cypripedium orchids. Myrtle was added from the bush grown from a sprig of the bouquet of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, The Princess Royal. Jewellery for the day included two pearl necklaces, the shorter of the two necklaces was the 'Queen Anne' necklace, said to have belonged to Anne, the last Stuart Queen. The second pearl necklace is known as the 'Queen Caroline', and is said to have belonged to the wife of King George II. Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara was lent to The Queen on her wedding day. The frame of the tiara broke as she was putting it on and it had to be quickly repaired. The earrings worn by Her Majesty were a gift from Queen Mary, who inherited them from her mother, Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck.

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The dress that Queen Elizabeth wore on her wedding day over 70 years ago was classic, timeless, and beautiful, and most people likely assume that it is one of the most expensive dresses in royal history. That is why it is surprising to learn that this is actually not the case. New York Post reports that her majesty actually used coupons in order to purchase her gown, and the reason makes a lot of sense.

The queen got married right after WWII when Britain was still feeling the effects. Clothing ration coupons needed to be used to buy the gown, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t one of the most beautiful royal wedding dresses ever. The intricate details and heart-shaped neckline were glorious, and Good Housekeeping reports it took over 7 weeks to make. The dress had over 10,000 pearls and a 7-foot train.

Another fun fact? While royal wedding cakes can typically cost well into the six-figure range, the ingredients for the queen’s cake were donated by the Australian Girl Guides Association. Looks like her majesty really knows how to have a royal celebration on a budget.