8 Things All Royal Weddings Have in Common
#TBT to when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got hitched...but also, Kate Middleton and Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Because here’s the thing: While every single royal wedding is one of a kind (the dress! the gaggle of page boys!), there are certain elements underneath all that pomp and circumstance that you can pretty much expect to see on repeat. Here, eight things you can bank on seeing at every royal wedding.
The ‘Something Borrowed’ Is a Tiara
Every tiara in the royal vault has a unique history that can be traced all the way back to the OG royal who wore it, which is why—per the royals—it’s the perfect heirloom to fulfill this age-old wedding trope. Meghan Markle opted for a sparkly filigree tiara—officially called the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau tiara—while Kate wore the Cartier Halo Scroll tiara, originally purchased by King George VI as an anniversary gift to his wife in 1936. Princess Di borrowed the Spencer Tiara, a piece from her family’s own personal collection, and Queen Eliz wore Queen Mary’s Russian Fringe tiara, a piece made for her grandmother in 1919.
But here’s the kicker: The reason the tiara is such a pièce de résistance is that royal women—even if they’re engaged—can’t wear one until their actual wedding day. (This is because the tiara is meant to symbolize the loss of innocence and the crowning of love. Le sigh.)
The Bridal Bouquet Has a Sprig of Myrtle
Here’s why: Myrtle—according to botanists—signifies love and marriage. But the reason it’s a part of every single royal wedding bouquet is because it’s specially plucked from the 170-year-old garden of Queen Victoria, who was gifted the plant by Prince Albert’s grandmother so many decades ago.
By tradition, a sprig from this very plant—which continues to thrive on the Isle of Wight—has been added to the bouquets carried by everyone from Queen Eliz to the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Groom *Always* Wears Military Garb
You may recall Prince Harry walked down the aisle in the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals when he said “I do” to Meghan Markle. Here’s the deal: Standard (royal) protocol requires the groom to wear it.
That’s why Prince Charles wore his full naval commander uniform to marry Diana and Prince William wore the red uniform of the Irish Guards to marry Kate. (FYI, an exception to the royal rule is if the groom doesn’t have military experience like in the case of Jack Brooksbank, who wed Princess Eugenie this month.)
…And Doesn’t Watch His Bride Walk Down the Aisle
Tradition says that the groom is the last person in the entire congregation to peer at his royal bride—aka he can’t turn around to look at her until she’s reached the altar.
(FYI, in the case of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, he had close to a four-minute build-up since the aisle at Westminster Abbey is a cool 400 feet long.)
The Cake Is Beyond *Huge*
It’s not a royal wedding without an epic and over-the-top wedding cake, which is a centuries-old tradition, according to royal experts. Queen Elizabeth’s cake reportedly weighed in at a whopping 500 pounds. Princess Di and Charles’s was five tiers tall and Kate Middleton and William’s confection (pictured) clocked in at eight total tiers with the couple’s monogram emblazoned on the side of it.
As for Harry and Meghan’s? The more modern duo bucked tradition and went with a lemon elderflower cake with—gasp—just four tiers. (Of course, it was still a showstopper.)
The Wedding Bands Include Welsh Gold
In 1923, it was decided by the Queen “mum” that all royal wedding bands would feature Welsh gold. Her ring had been made from a gift of Clogau gold with enough left over to be used in the bands of future royal brides—which turned out to be Queen Eliz, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.
The tradition continued with Fergie, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, but by that time, the gold had to come from a different royal source since the original 1923 supply had run out. (Welsh gold is the rarest in the world since gold mining no longer takes place in Wales, so even when it’s added to a ring, only a miniscule amount is used.)
The Queen’s Consent is Mandatory
In accordance with the 1772 Royal Marriages Act, all marriages within the British royal family are subject to the approval of HRH the queen. That is, up until 2013, when the Succession to the Crown Act was passed.
This update included a minor tweak to that 1772 doctrine, stating that only the first six royals in line to the throne require the monarch’s permission to wed. (This means that when Prince Harry got married, he was the last in line required to get consent, thanks to the birth of Prince Louis, who bumped him back to #6.)
The Royal Exit Is In a Horse and Carriage
Hey, if you have access to them, why not? All royal brides and grooms ride off into the sunset in the carriage of their choice. Most have chosen the State Landau, a 1902 gilded open carriage.
There’s also always a rain plan: If the British skies should open up, a glass coach would be used instead. (Talk about a fairy-tale ending.)