07 May 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Margaret and The Earl of Snowdon, 1960

The Queen’s outfit for the wedding of her sister, Princess Margaret, and Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960 was in some ways a departure from her usual outfits – and, ultimately, would mark a departure from a certain style of royal dress codes.
Norman Hartnell dressed the bride in her sublime white gown (which you can read more about here) and dressed her reigning sister in an ensemble designed to complement. (He also, of course, dressed all of the rest of the principal women of the Royal Family, because he was indeed the royal couturier extraordinaire). Taking a step away from the elaborate embroidery that often adorned Hartnell’s full-length outfits for The Queen, the dress is simple turquoise blue silk taffeta and silk tulle with guipure lace on the top and down the back. Lace also adorns the matching bolero jacket. The hat was topped by roses as a nod to Princess Margaret Rose.
Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen’s jewelry marked the formality of the occasion. Two larger strands of pearls, the larger version of her pearl and diamond button earrings, and a bracelet and watch were worn, as well as the True Lover's Knot Brooch. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother came decked out in some of her favorite pieces: the Greville Peardrop Earrings, Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Parure Necklace, and a brooch.
Princess Margaret’s wedding was the last such occasion for which the royal women would wear long day dresses. Even then, it was already slightly less formal than it had been for The Queen’s own wedding in 1947, where the women also wore their order sashes. This type of dress code, once rather common among royal houses for special day events, has continued to die out over the years. But it still lives on in some monarchies: the Danish, Spanish, Dutch, and Japanese houses are among those who keep this modern sort of court dress for certain occasions.

This outfit is currently on display as part of the exhibit Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The exhibition is the largest display yet of The Queen's fashion, and runs at Holyroodhouse from April 21 - October 16, 2016, at Buckingham Palace from July 23 - October 2, and at Windsor Castle from September 17 - January 8, 2017.