When Princess Beatrice married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic it was a very intimate and very different royal wedding. And now her “unique” wedding outfit is being displayed in Windsor Castle in an exhibition also described as having “a kind of modesty about it.”
The Norman Hartnell dress that Beatrice borrowed from the Queen and customized for the service at The Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor is the centerpiece of the new display in the castle’s State Dining Room. Also shown are Beatrice’s Valentino shoes and a replica of her bouquet made from artificial flowers. Curator Caroline de Guitaut tells T&C that the princess, who is set to soon view the display, was “extremely keen to really support” it adding, “She felt that it was a really lovely thing to be able to do.”
Guitaut says of the exhibition: “We’ve created a very beautiful display which has a kind of modesty about it. And I think that very much echoes Her Royal Highness’s wedding which, as we know took place at the the height of the COVID period.”
She continues: “I think the key message, as it were, is very much around this idea of recycling, and the idea of having a vintage dress which was then adapted for Her Royal Highness to the kind of shape and silhouette that she very much wanted. I think the whole idea of that is such an echo of what we are feeling across the country at the moment.”
The dress was first worn by the Queen in 1961 for a State dinner at the British Embassy in Rome. She wore it again to the London premiere of the film Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 and again for the State Opening of Parliament in 1966. Made of ivory peau de soie taffeta, the skirt is trimmed with a band of ivory duchesse satin.
“We have this beautiful Hartnell dress with echoes of this history around it, but then adapted in such an elegant way,” says Guitaut, adding, “The adaptations have been made in a really subtle, really beautiful way. They are all completely reversible. So the changes that have been made can be very easily undone, so the dress, if desired, could be put back to its original form.”
The gown was altered under the direction of the Queen’s senior dresser Angela Kelly alongside fashion designer Stewart Parvin, who Guitaut spoke with to put the exhibition together. “Stewart Parvin, who made those really beautiful alterations to the dress, told me that he used vintage crystals and diamantes that he had in his studio because they had this beautiful kind of patination that modern pieces and modern diamantes would be a little bit too harsh when compared to the other Hartnell embroidery,” she says. “I think the whole effect was not only very beautiful and very elegant and very successful but just this whole idea of using something that’s vintage just seemed to strike a chord, I think, with the mood of the nation.”
Guitaut concludes: “There’s always this fascination for royal wedding dresses and I think this one just had such a unique thing about it.”
The wedding dress is on display starting Thursday, September 24 in the State Dining Room, one of the Semi-State Rooms, which open to the public each year between September and March. An official range of commemorative china and souvenir items has also gone on sale, including a tankard, pillbox, shortbread biscuits, strawberry truffles and a tea towel. The design on the items shows the couple’s initials surmounted by the coronet of Princess Beatrice, surrounded by a bouquet of pink roses, peonies, lemon blossom and thistles, secured with the white rose of York.
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