A Royal Wedding - 60th Anniversary Of Queen's Wedding At Buckingham Palace

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 09 August 2007
photo of a display of a wedding dress with a long train next to a naval uniform

The Norman Hartnell dress next to Prince Phillp's naval uniform. Courtesy The Royal Collection

The Queen will celebrate her 60th wedding anniversary on November 20 – the first reigning British sovereign to reach this landmark – and a special exhibition is running at Buckingham Palace to mark the occasion.

A Royal Wedding: 20 November 1947 will run until September 28, taking advantage of the summer opening of Buckingham Palace.

It includes archive film footage of the celebrations and behind-the-scenes preparations and reflects the widespread public enthusiasm for the event that took place amid a time of post war austerity.

photo of a bridesmaid's dress

One of the bridesmaid's dresses. Courtesy The Royal Collection

The outfits of all the principal members of the wedding party have been brought together for the first time since 1947. Princess Elizabeth’s Norman Hartnell-designed dress and 13-foot train takes centre place along with its accompanying diamond fringe tiara and jewels.

Norman Hartnell was made Court Dressmaker to Princess Elizabeth in 1938 and set out to create ‘the most beautiful dress I have so far made’ for the wedding. The gown was made of ivory silk and decorated with crystals and 10,000 pearls.

Its train was inspired by Botticelli’s figure of Primavera, symbolising rebirth and growth after the war.

photo of a piece of lace

Gandhi handwove this piece of lace as a wedding present. Courtesy The Royal Collection

Also included are the dresses designed by Hartnell for the princess’s mother, Queen Elizabeth, and grandmother, Queen Mary, and for the bridesmaids along with the uniforms worn by King George VI and the Duke of Edinburgh.

As well as the outfits the display features a number of the wedding presents which include a piece of Indian lace hand woven by Mahatma Gandhi and gifts from Pope Pius XII, President Chiang Kai Shek and President Truman as well as the Queen’s diamond bracelet given to her by Prince Phillip on their marriage.

The royal couple received more than 2,500 wedding presents from world leaders and well-wishers around the globe. They received 500 cases of tinned pineapple for distribution by the bride, sugared almonds, tins of salmon and crystallised fruits plus an electric washing machine, refrigerator, some 76 handkerchiefs, 30 scarves, 148 pairs of stockings and 16 nightgowns.

photo of a diamond tiara

The Queen's diamond fringe tiara which kept her bridal train in place. Courtesy The Royal Collection

Princess Elizabeth received many items of jewellery from members of the Royal Family, including pieces that had originally been wedding presents for Queen Mary in 1893.

The ‘Girls of Great Britain’ tiara, familiar from images of the Queen on banknotes and coins, makes an appearance in the exhibition as does the ‘Dorset Bow’ brooch and the Cornwall ruby and diamond bracelet.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth gave their daughter a 19th century sapphire and diamond necklace and matching earrings, a Boucheron diamond and ruby necklace and a magnificent pair of Cartier diamond ‘chandelier’ earrings.

photo of an elaborate diamond tiara

The 'Girls of Great Britain' tiara, originally given to Queen Mary in 1893. Courtesy The Royal Collection

Other pieces in the display include necklaces given from the City of London and the Nizam of Hyderabad plus a diamond ‘stomacher’ from Queen Mary.

Princess Elizabeth met Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark on several occasions during their youth and by the mid-1940s there was widespread speculation of a romance.

Prince Phillip renounced his Greek royal title in 1947 and became a British citizen, Lietenant Phillip Mountbatten. He became engaged to Princess Elizabeth in July the same year and shortly before the wedding was named His Royal Highness and created Duke of Edinburgh.

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