One such rumor is the supposed confirmation from Kate's hairdresser that she will wear her hair down and "flowing" on the big day, which made me wonder: how often has this been done in the past? And what kind of a success rate such a strategy has achieved?
We'll start with the brides that had no choice but to wear their hair down, since it was too short to wear it any other way.
Left to Right: Diana, Princess of Wales; Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg; Crown Princess Margarita of Romania; Sophie, Countess of WessexDiana's signature hairstyle fell prey to the July weather, and her fringe suffered a monumental collapse. Marie-Astrid was sporting similar hair at the time of her 1982 wedding, but she was able to do something with a little more style, which turned out quite nicely. The chief triumph of both Marie-Astrid and Margarita's styles is that they managed to conceal the bases of their tiaras, which is so key. The tiara frame is what ruins Sophie's wedding hair for me; she's had much greater success with that tiara now that she's grown her hair out a bit and has some styling options.
Hair down and short under the bridal veil and tiara (where required) was much more common a few decades ago, when royal ladies were teasing their bobs as high as they could reach and shellacking them in place with hairspray.
L to R: sisters Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene, and Princess Christina of the Netherlands
We will pause here and bow our heads to the royal ladies that have yet to give up this hair strategy (ahem, Beatrix above and Fabiola and Sofia below).
L to R: sisters Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleberg and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece; Queen Sofia of Spain
L to R: Katherine, Duchess of Kent; Queen Fabiola of Belgium; Queen Sonja of NorwayReally, though, some of these ladies are so coiffured they might as well have an elaborate updo. There's no "flow" to be had anywhere above, so I'm not sure any of these count towards our purpose here.
Wearing the hair down is quite common among royal ladies at their second (or third) weddings, which usually doesn't entail a tiara.
L to R: Princess Lilian of Sweden at her 2nd wedding to Prince Bertil; Princess Caroline of Monaco at her 2nd wedding to Stefano Casiraghi and at her 3rd to Prince Ernst August of Hanover; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at her 2nd wedding to Prince CharlesLilian and Camilla both have the kind of hair that you don't change for any occasion, while Caroline went for white and a veil and an updo at her first wedding and strayed from that appropriately at her second and third ceremonies.
UPDATE: I forgot about Princess Anne's 2nd wedding! She married Tim Laurence in a half-up/half-down 'do.
Now, of course, tiaras aren't at all a royal wedding requirement. (Yet. My petition is pending.) We have several royal ladies that have opted to wear their hair down while going tiara-free.
L to R: Princess Noor of Jordan; Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai; Queen Noor of JordanI'm a particular fan of Princess Noor here; the cloak-like veil is a perfect complement to the length of her hair. Queen Noor's the only one I'm not big on; it's awfully plain for a Queen!
L to R: Princess Tessy of Luxembourg; Princess Stephanie of Monaco; Sophie Winkleman (Lady Frederick Windsor); Lady Davina Lewis (daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester)In these cases, Tessy and Davina's half updos really give them a sweet and girlish look that I think works with their bridal styles, and the styles of their weddings too (neither wedding was all that "royal", so to speak). Stephanie's style fits in too; she wore a short, tight wedding dress, for heaven's sake. We should all be thankful she didn't try and add a tiara or a veil. Sophie's headband (which looks like something any one of us could buy at a bridal shop) is the closest we come to tiara here. I have to say, even with such minimal ornamentation, I wish she would've had her hair up.
In the realm of royal brides that had a) longer hair, b) wore it down, and c) also wore a tiara, we don't have much to review. It is far more popular to pull one's hair back.
L to R: Queen Elizabeth; Sarah, Duchess of York; Princess Lalla Salma of MoroccoThe Queen just kept her regular hair style at the time and put a tiara and veil on top (she's never been one for fancy 'dos, really), while Sarah and Lalla Salma both opted to let their ginger curls speak for themselves. I think Lalla Salma's the only one really pulling off the goddess look here. Fergie and the Queen...well, I'm so used to seeing their wedding pictures as they are, I can't even picture a different hair style.
To get a few more examples of long hair worn with wedding tiaras, we need to open our field to include some aristocratic weddings.
L to R: Victoria Lockwood, the former Countess Spencer; Lady Katie Percy; Camilla Parker-Bowles (at her first wedding to Andrew Parker-Bowles); Laura Parker-BowlesVictoria Lockwood was the first wife of Diana's brother, the Earl Spencer. She encountered the unfortunate combination of flowing locks and damp weather, and not even the sparkle of the Spencer tiara could save the day. Another unforgettable turn came earlier this year with Lady Katie Percy and her crooked tiara. Not successful at all in my opinion, but I am glad she restrained herself from adding a tilted veil on top of it all. Switching back to our short, coiffed glam, Camilla's first wedding saw her decked out in her family's tiara, just like her daughter did years later. I'll give Laura the prize for making the long hair + tiara bridal look work the best: there's enough of the hair pulled up to keep it from looking straggly, yet it still cascades down her back.
Now, final verdicts: I'm on Team Updo. (Because: it's your wedding day, be fancy! Why risk looking unkempt when you can do that all the other days of your life?) Are any of these ladies making the flowing royal bridal locks work for you, or would you like to join my team?