With Meghan Markle and Prince Harry set to tie the knot in May 2018, the “Markle effect” is in full swing: Brands try to keep up as anything worn by the Suits actress quickly sells out. As the wedding date draws near, speculation is running wild about what Markle will look like as she marries her real-life prince. Royal watchers are wondering about the design — and the cost — of Markle’s choice of wedding dress.
Here we’ll take a look at photos of seven other royal brides in their wedding dresses and list what each paid for her gown. Lastly, we’ll list what Markle is rumored to be paying for her dress. Will she break royal records — and the royal budget — with her choice?
1. Queen Elizabeth II
- Cost of Netflix to recreate the dress: $37,000
In 1947, Queen Elizabeth II was still a princess when she married Prince Philip. She chose royal couturier Norman Hartnell to design the dress, made from lustrous cream duchess satin. Ten thousand seed pearls, silver thread, and crystals adorned the gown.
The cost of the dress has never been disclosed. However, as war-time rationing was in place, Her Royal Highness paid for the dress with coupons she had saved. Netflix paid $37,000 to recreate the dress for a Season 1 episode of its series The Crown.
Next: Perhaps the most iconic royal wedding dress ever
2. Princess Diana
- Cost of dress in 1981: $12,000
- What it would cost today: $34,000
When Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles in 1981, dress designers Elizabeth and David Emmanuel set out to create the longest royal wedding dress ever. The resulting 25-foot-long creation was made from ivory silk taffeta, featuring 10,000 seed pearls and mother-of-pearl sequins.
The dress is perhaps remembered mostly for its trademark puffy sleeves decorated with hundreds of tiny ribbons. It reportedly cost $12,000 at the time, which would be around $34,000 today.
Next: Arguably the most beautiful royal wedding dress ever
3. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
- Cost of dress in 1986: $12,000
- What it would cost today: $27,000
Princess Diana’s wedding dress provided inspiration for that of Sarah Ferguson, who married Prince Andrew in 1986. The ivory satin gown featured heavy beading woven into representations: waves symbolizing Andrew’s sailing background, and bumblebees taken from the Ferguson family crest.
The dress reportedly cost up to $12,000. Copies of the gown, including the motifs specific to the royal family, went on sale just hours after the wedding took place.
Next: An extravagant dress for its time
4. Grace Kelly
- Cost of dress in 1956: $8,000
- What it would cost today: $74,000
Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress was one of the most extravagant around when the American actress married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. Made of silk and taffeta, the gown went on to inspire the dresses of other royals and commoners alike. The $8,000 price tag would cost around $74,000 today.
Next: A luxurious dress for a fraction of the cost
5. Autumn Kelly
- Cost of dress in 2008: $4,000
- What it would cost today: $4,800
Autumn Kelly married the queen’s eldest grandchild, Peter (son of Princess Anne), in 2008. The bride opted for a gown of ivory duchess satin — the same fabric from the dresses of the queen and Sarah Ferguson, but a different shade. It also featured hand-beaded lace. It reportedly cost $4,000, which would be $4,800 today.
Next: A silk and satin dress with a practical touch
6. Zara Phillips
- Cost of dress in 2011: $9,780
- What it would cost today: $10,779
In 2011, a few months after Prince William married Kate Middleton, his cousin Zara Phillips tied the knot. The bride, who married Mike Tindall, wore a dress of silk duchess satin and a tiara given to her by her mother, Princess Anne. The gown featured an empire waist and bell-shaped skirt with a practical touch — concealed pockets. This dress cost $9,780 at the time.
Next: Kate’s dress broke records.
7. Kate Middleton
- Cost of dress in 2011: $434,000
- What it would cost today: $488,000
Stylish Kate Middleton opted for an Alexander McQueen wedding gown when she tied the knot with Prince William in 2011. Her Chantilly lace gown featured roses, daffodils, thistles, and shamrocks. In keeping with the flower theme, the skirt was even designed in the shape of flower petals opening.
Royal watchers later learned that the new duchess had switched into another, more party-like Alexander McQueen gown for the reception. But her bridal dress set some royal records with its $434,000 price tag. How will Meghan Markle’s compare?
Next: Speaking of royal wedding dress records…
8. Meghan Markle
- Reported cost of wedding dress: $546,000
Meghan Markle will marry Prince Harry on May 19, 2018. Just who is designing the bride-to-be’s dress remains a carefully guarded secret, according to Daily Mail. Rumor has it, however, Markle has doubled her wedding dress budget and is shelling out $546,000 for the gown — a new royal record.
Markle did drop some clues on what type of dress she likes in 2016. Back then, she was trying on wedding gowns for scenes from her show Suits, in which her character Rachel Zane is engaged to the character Mike. “I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic,” Markle told Glamour magazine.
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