An inexhaustible source of wonder for us commoners, royal weddings offer us a glimpse into a world filled with Dior-embellished grace and Manolo Blahnik heels. The central figure of these lavish nuptials is, of course, not only the bride, but the dress she decides upon. In lieu of Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding to Prince Harry, here’s a look at some of the most extravagant royal wedding gowns from the last 70 years and the stories behind them.
1947: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Designer Norman Hartnell had the honor of designing Her Majesty’s rich duchesse satin dress, which drew inspiration from Botticelli’s painting Primavera. The dress was made of silk from China (not Japan or Italy, given the proximity to World War II) and was intended to symbolize “rebirth and growth.” The queen famously saved up ration cards to pay for the dress, which took 350 women seven weeks to create.