Fashion and Fascinators: The High Style of Britain’s Blackest Royal Wedding (to Date)

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, leave St George’s Chapel after their wedding in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
Photo: Ben Birchall (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It was a day seemingly made for happily ever after. On Saturday, Meghan Markle’s fairy tale came true when, at last, she married her Prince Charming Harry. The traditionally drizzly English skies gave way to dazzling sunshine, and as many anticipated, the ceremony was as refreshingly unexpected as the pairing of the biracial American actress and the sixth in line to the British throne, with the bride’s black heritage strongly represented throughout.


But one thing we did expect were some major style moments, both from the bride and from the star- and nobility-studded crowd who attended. And for the most part (that Gucci was a miss, Sabrina Dhowre), we were not disappointed.

Princess Bridal Chic

Of course, beyond the “Will he or won’t he?” drama concerning the attendance of the bride’s father, the bigger mystery was who would design Markle’s wedding gown. While it was expected that she would choose a British designer for her big day, the bride’s ultimate choice came with a French twist: Her dress was designed by Englishwoman Clare Waight Keller for legendary French fashion house Givenchy.

Working closely with Markle, Waight Keller produced a sleek, elegant and timeless A-lined silhouette with three-quarter sleeves and an impressive train, made of a gleaming double-bonded white silk cady developed especially for the bride, and bolstered by an underskirt of triple silk organza. Impressively constructed using only six meticulously placed seams, the minimalist design and open bateau neckline kept the focus on the bride’s beaming face.

Peeking out from under her gown were white silk duchesse-satin shoes based on a Givenchy “refined pointed couture” design.


Although Markle’s wedding attire was produced by a French fashion house, her choice of acclaimed British designer Waight Keller was a very strategic one that reflected Markle’s commitment to gender equality: Last year, Waight Keller became the first female artistic director in Givenchy’s 66-year history.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, leave St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
Photo: Andrew Matthews (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A Lengthy Legacy

Markle’s cathedral-length veil, also designed by Waight Keller, was both a tribute to the British Empire and, concurrently, a likely unintentional nod to its imperialist history.


According to the royal family’s official website, to reflect the work that she and Prince Harry will now be doing together following his recent appointment as Commonwealth youth ambassador, Markle “wanted to express her gratitude for the opportunity to support the work of the Commonwealth by incorporating references to its members into the design of her wedding dress.”

To represent all 53 countries of the Commonwealth, the perimeter of Markle’s 5-meter-long (approximately 16 feet) silk tulle veil was hand-embroidered in silk threads and organza with a trim featuring flowers from each country, including nations in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, in addition to the United Kingdom. The bride also added two personal flowers to the motif: wintersweet—which grows in front of Nottingham Cottage, the home she shares with her new husband on the grounds of Kensington Palace—and her own state flower, the California poppy.

Meghan Markle and her bridal party arrive at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
Photo: Jane Barlow (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The veil took hundreds of hours to make, with each flower embroidered in three dimensions “to create a unique and delicate design.” Embroiderers purportedly washed their hands every 30 minutes to “keep the tulle and threads pristine.”


The Queen’s Jewels

As is tradition, the bride’s tiara was loaned to her by her new grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. However, while many speculated that Markle would wear a tiara worn by Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, Markle’s wedding-day tiara was originally made for Queen Mary, Princess of Teck.


The flexible, bandeau-style platinum-and-diamond headpiece was made in England in 1932, with the centerpiece—which conveniently functions as a brooch when detached—dating back to 1893. Markle’s coordinating earrings and bracelet were made by Cartier.

The Duchess of Sussex departs after her wedding to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
Photo: Chris Jackson (Getty Images)

Love in Bloom

Markle’s bespoke bridal bouquet, designed by florist Philippa Craddock, was surprisingly simple and relaxed, consisting of spring flowers. Following royal tradition, it also featured sprigs of myrtle, as well as Princess Diana’s favorite flower, forget-me-nots.


As an especially sweet added touch, Prince Harry handpicked several flowers yesterday from the couple’s private garden at Nottingham Cottage to add to the bouquet, which was then bound with a naturally dyed raw-silk ribbon.

Simply Beautiful

Markle’s fresh-faced but starry-eyed bridal beauty was due to the talents of longtime friend, makeup artist and Dior ambassador Daniel Martin. Her slightly smoked eye and pumped-up lashes perfectly offset her soft pink lip, visible freckles, gleaming cheek and collarbones.


Famed hairstylist Serge Normant reinterpreted Markle’s trademark messy bun by pinning coils of hair into a romantic low chignon. Hilariously, the style sent several members of the at-home viewing audience into a tizzy, as it appeared to become more tousled as the ceremony progressed.

Personally, we thought the look represented exactly the type of fresh, relaxed, authentic energy the newest royal couple seems to exude, as well as a new era for the British monarchy. But the only person whose opinion really mattered gave his approval without hesitation.


On hand to witness the nuptials were, of course, the British royal family, several celebs—including Oprah, Idris Elba, George and Amal Clooney, Markle’s friends Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra, as well as her castmates from her now former hit show, Suits.


And then there was the bride’s gorgeous mother, Doria Ragland, who more than held it down as the sole member of Markle’s family in attendance. For the ceremony, she donned an elegant custom celadon dress and day coat designed by Oscar de la Renta creative directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, embroidered in a floral motif evocative of her daughter’s veil.

Doria Ragland leaves St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after the wedding of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England.
Photo: Brian Lawless (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Ragland paired the outfit with beige heels by Aquazurra and wore a custom-designed hat atop her locs made by British milliner Stephen Jones, OBE. Jones has created many of the noteworthy hats Markle has worn since moving to the U.K.; she also commissioned him to create custom hats for several of her closest friends to wear to her wedding.

Speaking of hats, they were part of the requested attire for women attending the royal wedding. Much like in the black church (which Markle brought to her new homeland via her wedding ceremony), hats are a major part of British church tradition, and always an attraction unto themselves (remember the hats Prince William’s cousins wore to his 2011 nuptials?).

Actresses Janina Gavankar, Abigail Spenser and Priyanka Chopra arrive at St. George’s Chapel to attend the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018.
Gif: Giphy

But when done right, a fantastic hat or well-matched fascinator (as the British have a predilection for) can take an already great outfit over the top; just ask Serena Williams, Amal Clooney and Priyanka Chopra, a few of this royal wedding’s style stars.


While we understand that not everyone caught the royal-wedding fever we did in the wee hours of Saturday, we feel safe in saying this history-making event was well worth losing sleep over, and may just be the best royal wedding ever. After all, it’s not every day the world’s most famous family is forced to make progress.

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.