The princes Andrew, Edward and Charles are Queen Elizabeth II’s sons. Therefore, as they are so closely related to the monarch, their weddings are of great interest to the country. More than that, their offspring come first in line to be the future rulers of the country. And, above all else, the population loves a royal spectacle!
We’re going to take a dive into the weddings of Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Let us have a look at the history, the ceremony, and the dresses!
Prince Charles’ First Wedding – 29th July 1981
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Diana’s wedding dress is one of the most iconic of all time. We bet you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognise it.
Diana was actually not who Charles had his eye on when he started courting a Spencer girl. In fact, he was dating her older sister! However, he started courting Diana in 1980 and the pair soon became one of the most famous (or infamous) in British royal modern history!
Diana was to be seen as the “People’s Princess”; she was the only royal bride in British history to have a job before her marriage. Because of this, 750 million people turned on their televisions to watch the ceremony from all across the world. Furthermore, 600,000 spectators travelled to London to line the streets and watch on as the events unfolded inside Westminster Abbey.
Her dress, designed by husband and wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was highly polarising. It was a gown much suited to the 1980s era in which it was designed, with an A-line figure and poufy sleeves, that is estimated to have cost upwards of £9,000.
Diana took to royal life relatively easily, as she was a noblewoman by birth. She gave birth to princes William and Harry. Unfortunately, both Charles and Diana started affairs and realised the differences between them. Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (whose husband at one point dated Princess Anne) lead to Diana’s deep unhappiness. They finally divorced in 1996 and Diana then tragically died in a car crash the following year.
Prince Andrew’s Wedding – 23rd July 1986
Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, and married Sarah Ferguson on 23rd July 1986. As with the majority of the royals since the early 20th century, they married in London at Westminster Abbey. They garnered a television audience of 500 million people worldwide, not quite as much as his elder brother. As is customary for male members of the royal family, the Queen granted Prince Andrew several titles before the ceremony. These were Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killyleagh.
The young couple met in their childhood but did not start a relationship until 1985. Diana, Princess of Wales, helped to match-make at a party at Windsor Castle and the two women became fast friends. Andrew asked his mother’s permission and proposed to Sarah with an engagement ring that he designed himself. Supposedly, he chose a Burmese ruby as the colour matched Sarah’s hair beautifully.
The ceremony took 45 minutes and was attended by the royal family, the Ferguson family, Margaret Thatcher and Nancy Reagan. Andrew’s brother, Prince Edward, was his best man, and Sarah had four bridesmaids and four page boys.
Fergie’s wedding dress had a corset top and a duchesse satin train. The designer, Lindka Cierach, reportedly chose the material as it did not crease (unlike Diana’s famous dress). Although the bride wanted helicopters and teddy bears embroidered on her dress, she ended up with bumblebees and anchors instead.
They had a reception at Claridges Hotel and later honeymooned in the Azores. They went on to have two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, but due to Andrew’s responsibilities only saw each other for forty days in a year. This caused great pressure between them, and they ultimately divorced in 1996.
Prince Edward’s Wedding – 19th June 1999
Next came the turn of Prince Edward. Sophie Rhys-Jones is a descendant of King Henry IV who worked in Public Relations. While working at Capital Radio, Sophie met Prince Andrew, and they met again six years later at a charity event. They started a relationship and finally became engaged in 1999, twelve years after their first meeting.
They married on 19th June 1999, but broke tradition by marrying at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, instead of Westminster. They wanted to hold a small affair and as such had a very select guest list of just close friends and family. They requested guests to arrive in evening rather than formal dress. Only the Queen Mother refused and wore a hat regardless.
Sophie’s wedding dress, designed by Samantha Shaw, was organza and silk crepe with long sleeves and a V-neck. It had hundreds of thousands of glass and pearl beads stitched around the neck, sleeves and train.
With the marriage, the pair became Earl and Countess of Wessex, a title that had not been used since 1071. This shocked some people, as he was expected to take the title of Duke of Edinburgh. Instead, it is now thought he will inherit the title after his father’s death.
Edward and Sophie honeymooned at Balmoral Castle and then moved to Bagshot Park in Surrey. They gave birth to Lady Louise in 2003 and James, Viscount Severn in 2007.
Prince Charles’ Second Wedding – 9th April 2005
Twenty-four years after his first wedding, and nearly ten since his divorce, Prince Charles announced his engagement to Camilla Parker Bowles.
Camilla Parker-Bowles had been a lifelong friend of Prince Charles, and the couple grew ever closer, becoming engaged on 10th February, 2005.
Because of the Church of England’s stance against the re-marriage of divorcees, Prince Charles and Camilla had a civil ceremony. The small wedding took place in Windsor Guildhall, and then quickly moved on to Windsor Castle. There, they received an official religious blessing from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop, in light of the divorce issue and other allegations, required from the couple an Act of Penitence:
“We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, have committed by word, thought and deed, against thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.”
This was the first time any member of the English Royal Family had undertaken a civil marriage. The Duchess wore an oyster silk basket-weave coat dress for the ceremony and changed into a porcelain blue silk dress.
The royal family has a rich history and many scandals (several of which may still be hidden). Nevertheless, they and their relationships continue to captivate the minds of the public.