In a summer where it seemed we were to be denied the joy of weddings altogether, the nation was treated to a pleasant surprise when Princess Beatrice unexpectedly tied the knot with her dashing property developer fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on Friday. And while it was an intimate ceremony, featuring only the bride and groom’s closest family to stay in line with Covid-19 safety measures, it was no less magical, featuring a breath-taking vintage wedding dress on loan from the Queen, a show-stopping tiara (also borrowed from her grandmother) and an exquisite floral display.
It came as a welcome revelation to many when the pictures of the happy couple were first released on Friday 17 July, giving a glimpse into their secret Royal Wedding. The small ceremony, thought to feature around 20 guests, took place at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor – Princess Beatrice and Mapelli Mozzi had originally been set to marry at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace with 150 guests in May.
A statement from Buckingham Palace stated that the event went ahead “with kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen” and revealed that “the couple decided to hold a small private ceremony with their parents and siblings following the postponement of their wedding in May. Working within government guidelines, the service was in keeping with the unique circumstances while enabling them to celebrate their wedding with their closest family.”
In a thoroughly modern – and superbly sustainable – move, Princess Beatrice walked down the aisle in a vintage Norman Hartnell gown on loan from the Queen, who was famously photographed wearing it in 1962 at the premiere of Lawrence of Arabia. The choice was a touching tribute to her grandmother and showed just how close their bond is. The English couturier has long had a special relationship with the Royal Family and designed both the Queen’s wedding gown for her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 and her coronation dress in 1953.
While the original Peau De Soie taffeta gown was sleeveless, Princess Beatrice worked with Stewart Parvin, who has designed many of the Queen’s outfits, and Her Majesty’s long-standing dresser Angela Kelly to remodel the dress slightly, adding short organza puff sleeves to the jewelled straps. The diamanté-encrusted gown is trimmed with Duchess satin and features a geometric checked bodice and an accentuated, nipped in waist, which was moulded to fit the petite Princess perfectly.
In an era when Royal Wedding dresses are so highly scrutinised and the general speculation about which designer will land the coveted job is often whipped up to fever pitch, the upcycled gown was a refreshingly imaginative and ethically-minded choice from the young Princess. Not only was it sustainable, it was also financially-savvy, which feels more appropriate than ever in this current time of global crisis.
In yet another nod to her special relationship with her grandmother, Princess Beatrice teamed her wedding gown with the spectacular Queen Mary Diamond Fringe tiara, which the Queen wore for her own nuptials. While it is customary for the Queen to loan a tiara from her extensive collection to royal brides on their wedding day, none of the current generation has worn the show-stopping tiara.
The exquisite piece was originally made for Queen Mary by Garrard and Co. in 1919, reusing diamonds from a tiara that had been given to her as a wedding day gift from Queen Victoria. Queen Mary gifted the resulting creation to her daughter-in-law, then Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), who loaned it to her own daughter for her marriage to Prince Philip.
While that moment made the tiara one of the most famous in the royal collection, there was almost a last-minute mishap when the piece broke just before the bride was due to set off for Westminster Abbey. Luckily, a court jeweller was on hand and was able to fix the tiara just in time. As part of its clever design, the 47 graduated bars can also be worn as a necklace.
As a further break from tradition, instead of the usual all-white bouquets most commonly carried by royal brides, Princess Beatrice opted for an elegant floral arrangement made up of trailing jasmine, pale pink and cream sweet peas, royal porcelain ivory spray roses, pink o’hara garden roses, pink wax flower, baby pink astilbe and sprigs of myrtle from Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park.
The bouquet and incredible floral arch that surrounded the chapel’s entrance were made by Patrice Van Helden of RVH Floral Design, who was also the florist behind Beatrice’s sister Eugenie’s bouquet for her 2018 wedding and Elton John’s nuptials in 2014. Both Princess Beatrice and Mapelli Mozzi were heavily involved in designing the bouquet and wanted to include their favourite flowers: Norma Jane roses and sweet avalanche pink roses, respectively.
And while the colours may not have been in keeping with the tradition of royal brides, there was one element that certainly was: the sprigs of myrtle. This regal ritual has been followed for 162 years, ever since Princess Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, carried them on her wedding day to Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1858.
The intimate event featured only a small number of guests, including the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and both sets of parents and siblings. Beatrice was walked down the aisle by her father, Prince Andrew, and Mapelli Mozzi’s young son Wolfie acted as best man and pageboy. While there were no hymns sung, in keeping with government guidelines, two of the couple’s favourite poems were read out by their mothers – Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare and I carry you in my heart by E.E. Cummings – along with a biblical reading, St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 1-13.