11 January 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Queen Margrethe's Gown

 Princess Margrethe of Denmark and Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat
June 10, 1967
Copenhagen, Denmark

Queen Margrethe and her husband, Prince Henrik, have proved to be quite the dynamic duo through the years; a creative, if eccentric, double team for Denmark. But they almost never met. The future Queen of Denmark and the French diplomat were both invited to a dinner party in London while the princess was studying there. He considered cancelling when he heard she'd be there; he assumed she'd be quite the bore. Needless to say, he went anyway, and found her fascinating. Margrethe didn't fall in love that night but when she eventually did, she fell hard.
The couple at the press conference announcing their engagement, and Margrethe's ring
Queen Margrethe has a healthy respect for tradition but isn't afraid to do her own thing, a streak which is evident throughout the details of her wedding ensemble. That streak starts with her engagement ring: these two large diamonds set in yellow gold make up a ring that is far from a conventional choice and is a sign, I'd say, of the unique partnership between these two people.
Margrethe and Henri married in Holmens Kirke in Copenhagen at the close of days of glittering celebrations. She made a traditional selection for her wedding dress designer: Jørgen Bender, a favorite of her mother Queen Ingrid and a staple royal couturier. The resulting gown combined family traditions and the theatrical touches Margrethe's creative mind requires in to a gown with touches straight out of an old royal painting.
The silk dress featured a flared skirt, long sleeves and a square neckline. The front showcased several family traditions: the lace down the center is a piece of lace passed down from Queen Ingrid's mother, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, from her own wedding gifts. This lace (along with another narrower piece of lace) has been used on various family wedding gowns.
The gown without the lace, which was removed for use by other brides
In the center of the lace, she pinned a special family brooch. The diamond daisy brooch was commissioned by Ingrid's father from diamonds belonging to Crown Princess Margaret, and was a wedding gift for Ingrid (she wore it on her wedding day too). "Daisy" is the affectionate family nickname of both Crown Princess Margaret and Queen Margrethe herself, making it an extra precious symbol. She also carried daisies in her bouquet that day, and had them placed in her bridesmaids' hair.
Both the veil and tiara were family heirlooms from Margaret: the Irish lace veil was and is worn by many family members, and her use of the Khedive of Egypt Tiara (another of Margaret's wedding gifts) helped solidify it as the traditional family wedding tiara.
The six meter long silk train descended from Margrethe's shoulders and ended with an unusual squared edge detail which echoed the gown's neckline. A theatrical feature for a creative bride, I'm sure. 
The wedding was a joyful affair with one dark spot: the absence of Margrethe's younger sister, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. Her husband, King Constantine, was deeply embroiled in the political turmoil that eventually led the family into exile at the end of 1967. The Danish government did not want him in the country, and so the couple stayed away. In what seems to have been her own little form of vigilante retribution, Queen Ingrid placed pictures of the couple all over Fredensborg Palace, where the reception was held.
Henri adopted the Danish version of his name, Henrik, and was made a Prince of Denmark. They have two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, and Henrik became the prince consort when Margrethe ascended the throne in 1972. Theirs has been a successful match, and seemingly a solid one; apart, that is, from one foible which involved Henrik fleeing to France in a huff, feeling downgraded after Frederik was chosen first to lead a New Year's Court reception in Margrethe's absence in 2002. (Well, I said it was an eccentric match.)

The entire wedding broadcast is available starting here and in further parts below the first video.

What do you think of Margrethe's gown?

Photos: Polfoto/The Royal Forums