20 March 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Queen Beatrix's Gown

HRH Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg
March 10, 1966
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Princess Beatrix - the oldest of the four daughters of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, and the future Queen of the Netherlands - fell in love with a diplomat with an aristocratic background, which might normally be a recipe for a perfect future prince consort. But Beatrix had a problem: her love, Claus von Amsberg, was German. So was her father, but now the Dutch were living in a post-World War II world. And for many of her countrymen, welcoming a former member of the Hitler Youth (which he was required to join) and the Wehrmacht (he was drafted in, and never participated in active combat) into the royal family just two decades after Nazi occupation was a lot to ask.
The carriage procession with smoke bomb in the background
Beatrix and Claus (with the help of Prince Bernhard) won acceptance from Queen Juliana and won the required permissions from the Dutch government. Their wedding was cheered by many, but the day was also marked by protests including a smoke bomb thrown at the carriage procession. Beatrix herself noted that it was not a fairytale affair - but judging only by the happiness you see in the photos of the bride and groom, you'd never know.
The wedding gown was made by Caroline Bergé-Farwick of Maison Linette, a couturier to the Dutch royal family (and designer of Princess Margriet's gown), but the design ideas came from the bride. The outcome was a high neckline gown with three-quarter sleeves and a slim skirt underneath the train, which begins as a split skirt from the waist and extends back. The dress features a subtle pattern mimicking the swirled design of her tiara, made by creating a velvet effect on the satin. The pattern runs on the lower skirt as well as down the sides of the split top skirt and onto the train.
The tiara made the look in more ways than the dress pattern. She wore the family's large diamond and pearl tiara, often called the Württemberg Tiara (more on that tomorrow, of course), in its most impressive form. It was backed by her waist-length voluminous tulle veil. She also wore a family heirloom pearl and diamond leaf brooch with a pearl pendant.
This gown is certainly a 1960s gown, sharing many of the simple characteristics we've seen time and again in other wedding dresses from this era. But I've always felt this one has something more, a distinctly regal feel that sets it apart. From the historic (and humongous) tiara to the brooch placement to the long gloves she wore throughout the day, this dress is most certainly the dress of a future queen.
Video: The wedding day
I think the dress was a winner, and in the end, her groom turned out to be a winner too. Claus won over the Dutch public, eventually topping polls as the most popular member of the royal family, and his death in 2002 was genuinely mourned. Beatrix and Claus had three sons, Willem-Alexander, Friso, and Constantijn. Beatrix will end a reign that began in 1980 on April 30, 2013, when she abdicates in favor of Willem-Alexander.

What do you think of this dress: regal, or not quite?

Photos: ANP/Corbis/Gahetna