14 June 2010

Top 10 Best Royal Wedding Dresses: #6. HRH Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

HRH Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
May 6, 1960

The media has a fondness for dividing the heirs to the throne into types, don't they?  One is good, and one is bad.  We’re made to believe that Prince William is well-behaved (well, for the most part), while Prince Harry is a wild child, reluctant to grow up.  In the early 1980s, Prince Charles was supposed to be the consummate family man, while Prince Andrew was ‘Randy Andy’.  Take it back a generation further, and Princess (then Queen) Elizabeth was careful and dutiful, while her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose was reckless and disobedient.  To an extent, these stereotypes could be true; but the thing is, you’ll never know if they started out true, or if the players grew into the roles they were assigned.

Whichever is the case, Princess Margaret played the role of the younger sister, consistently marching to the beat of her own drummer.  Margaret may have shared a wedding dress designer with her sister (Norman Hartnell), but she walked down the aisle in the polar opposite of her sister's traditional dress, sweeping in a whole new decade of royal style in her wake.  This was also the first royal wedding ever televised, and was watched by over 300 million viewers worldwide, so her effect on ushering in the sleek styles of the 1960s could very well have stretched far beyond the royal family.

White silk organza with a satin-bound silk tulle veil and not a stitch of embroidery in sight.  The whole design was made to accommodate the princess's short stature, including the tiara:

The Poltimore tiara, made in 1870 for Lady Poltimore, was bought at auction specially for Margaret.  Her hair was pumped up with a hair piece to combine with the tiara to add height to the pint-sized princess.  Tragically (in this magpie's eyes, at least), her children sold the tiara after her death, so we probably won’t ever see it again.  Boo.

This chic creation is typical 60's fashion, but its clean lines give it true sticking power, as demonstrated by Serena Stanhope during her 1993 wedding to Princess Margaret’s son David, Viscount Linley (this is her father pictured with her, not David).

 Psst....look closer.  
Serena's wearing another one of Princess Margaret's tiaras....
and it's one of my favorite tiaras ever.

If you can take that much inspiration from a gown made in 1960 and apply it successfully to a gown three decades later, you’ve got yourself a successful design.  Certainly worthy of a place in the Top 10.

Click here to see all of the Top 10 dresses!

Photos: Rex Features/UPPA/Museum of London/Kensington Palace/Geoffrey Munn