Tribune Print Share Text

Royal weddings 2011

Honoring the past, embracing the future

Created date

March 22nd, 2011

Spring is the start of the traditional wedding season, and wedding watchers worldwide are gearing up for a spectacular 2011 season. London will be the site of the biggest wedding on the planet the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton, better known as Kate. Following close behind, the tiny principality of Monaco will celebrate the marriage of Prince Albert II to Charl ne Wittstock.

William and Kate

When William and Kate take their wedding vows on April 29, 2011, the world will be watching. Approximately one billion people tuned in to see Princess Diana wed Prince Charles, and experts predict that the audience for William and Kate s wedding will be even larger. Most of the wedding details are closely guarded secrets to be revealed on the big day. It is known that the couple has invited around 1,900 people to the service at Westminster Abbey. For the first time in history, a royal bride will not arrive at Westminster Abbey in a horse-drawn carriage. Kate will be in a car. Details such as this are the royal couple s way of putting their own unique spin on an event that will be weighty with tradition.

Past royal weddings

The book Five Gold Rings: A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album From Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II (Royal Collection Publications, $15) is a fascinating look at how royal wedding traditions have evolved over the years. The 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, a largely private affair, took place in Chapel Royal, St. James Place. The advent of photography and filmmaking brought images of royal weddings to people around the world, generating unprecedented interest; soon, they became larger and much more public events. By the time King George VI (the subject of the film The King s Speech) wed Elizabeth Bowes Lyon in 1923, the ceremony was moved to Westminster Abbey to accommodate a larger number of guests. Perhaps nothing defines a wedding like the bride s gown. Queen Victoria wore a plain court dress with a circlet of orange blossoms in her hair, while Queen Elizabeth s gown was made of shimmering satin embellished with star-patterned lace and 10,000 pearls from America. The 275 yards of pearl-studded silk taffeta, tulle, and netting made Princess Diana s fairy tale gown unforgettable. The dress Kate chooses will undoubtedly influence bridal fashions once mass-produced look-alike versions of her gown hit the stores within weeks of the wedding. Modern royal weddings are such international events many people want to have something to commemorate the occasion. The Franklin Mint ( offers collectors a Kate Middleton engagement doll to be followed this summer with a Kate bride doll. We did a significant amount of research on the dress she wore for the engagement announcement to make sure the architecture of the dress was correct, says Gwynne Gorr, chief marketing officer of the Franklin Mint. The doll features a miniature replica of the necklace she wore and the earrings she had that day and of course the beautiful engagement ring. One of our great capabilities in the area of portraiture is in the sculpture of the face. The Franklin Mint s Kate bride doll is expected to be every bit as popular as its bestselling Diana bride doll. We have had a vibrant Diana business for many years, says Gorr. We currently have them available on our website, and we have definitely seen a resurgence of interest in our Diana dolls. While all royal weddings fascinate the public, there is something special about the union of Kate and William. The elevation of a commoner to a royal princess is an amazing and magical thing, says Gorr. Especially in this case, because Kate Middleton is a commoner, just as Grace Kelly was a commoner. There is this fairy tale experience that people go through when something magical like that happens in history. For more about the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, visit

Fairy tale in Monaco, part 2

One of history s most memorable weddings between a commoner and a royal took place in April of 1956. An estimated 30 million people watched the televised wedding of Prince Rainer III of Monaco to American-born movie star, Grace Kelly, who wore a gown designed my MGM wardrobe designer Helen Rose. On July 2, 2011, their son, Prince Albert II, will wed South African born Charl ne Wittstock. The Cathedral of Monaco has been the traditional location for royal weddings, but Albert and Charlene will marry at the Palace Square (Place du Palais) so they can share their special moment with the people of Monaco. Unlike her counterpart in London, the designer of Wittstock s gown has been announced, with the honors going to Giorgio Armani. It s unclear if their ceremony will be carried live on television. However, as a true sign of the times, there are definite plans to film the royal nuptials in 3-D.