27 August 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, 1973

Perhaps I have simply been too drawn to Princess Anne’s wedding gown – worn for her first wedding, to Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey on November 14, 1973 – to really notice what was going on with The Queen’s outfit at this event. After all, the wedding dress by Maureen Baker of Susan Small is a fascinating creation, so striking and unique. The tiara catches my eye too, of course; Anne followed in her mother's footsteps by borrowing Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, one of the best of the classic fringe models.

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So maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but I always wondered why The Queen’s outfit seemed a more "everyday" choice than outfits she would sport for close family weddings later on. The jewelry, at least, feels that way: the Dorset Bow Brooch would be an unusual choice today, when it is primarily used as a poppy holder, but it was a much more popular selection in her earlier years.

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(Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on the other hand, was in full cozy splendor, with what looks to be a diamond clip on her hat and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch on her coat.)

Royal Collection Trust
The Queen's hat was very much typical of the time, designed by Simone Mirman with blue and purple lace draped on the back. On display, however, there is much more to The Queen’s whole outfit than I realized from photos and video of the event.

These pieces are showcases for diamond inset details, precision work from the atelier of Norman Hartnell. Done all in blue silk and emphasized with diamond shapes at the coat fastening, the cuts are subtle enough to fade from afar – and indeed, I never realized they were there, leading to my impression that this was a much plainer outfit than it really was. (But if those insets were in a contrasting color, they’d take this right into harlequin territory, so it was a clever choice.) Just another example of a close up bringing an outfit into a new light.

For more video of the wedding, click here.

This outfit is on display at Buckingham Palace's summer exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe, open now through October 2, 2016.