01 July 2019

5 Royal Wedding Traditions

The wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, June 2010 (Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)

Royal weddings around the world are full of traditions, from tiaras and rings to veils and flowers. Here's a look at five traditions observed by royal brides, both past and present!

Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg wears the Khedive of Egypt Tiara (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images); Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg wears the Lannoy Tiara (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Family Tiaras

Some royal families even have a tiara that has become a dedicated "wedding tiara" for the women of the family. In Denmark, all three of Queen Ingrid's daughters wore the Khedive of Egypt Tiara on their wedding days. The tiara was an inheritance from Ingrid's late mother, Princess Margaret of Connaught. The next generation of Ingrid's descendants, including princesses from Greece and Germany, have also worn the Khedive Tiara for their weddings. 

In Japan, both Empress Michiko and Empress Masako wore the glittering Crown Princely Wedding Tiara when they married into the imperial family. The diadem, which has a coordinating necklace, was reportedly made using diamonds that belonged to an earlier empress. Now that Masako has become the nation's empress, the crown princely tiara has been passed to her sister-in-law, Crown Princess Kiko. Britain doesn't have a dedicated family wedding tiara, but two generations of Windsor brides wore Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara at the altar. When Queen Elizabeth II married in 1947, the tiara's frame snapped just before she left for Westminster Abbey and had to be hastily repaired. Decades later, her only daughter, Princess Anne, also chose to be married in the tiara -- but that marriage was not ultimately a success. No royal brides have donned the tiara since.

Some lucky "commoner" brides even borrow tiaras from their own family vaults for their royal weddings. Diana, Princess of Wales famously borrowed the Spencer Tiara for her wedding in 1981. Three decades later, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg, who was born a Belgian countess, borrowed the Lannoy Tiara from her family for her nuptials.

Anne-Marie of Greece wears Margaret of Connaught's veil (Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images); Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wears Margaret of Connaught's veil (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Heirloom Veils

Tiaras aren't the only items passed from royal bride to royal bride. Some families even have traditional veils worn by their brides. The Danish royal family are the owners of the grand lace bridal veil of Princess Margaret of Connaught, the British princess who married into the Swedish royal family and became the mother of Queen Ingrid of Denmark. Ingrid's daughters all wore the Connaught veil, and in 2004, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark even generously loaned it to her new daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary, to wear at her wedding.

The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding ring, April 2011 (ANDREW MILLIGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Golden Rings

The simple golden wedding rings worn by British royal brides have a lovely patriotic provenance. They're made from rare Welsh gold, some of which was sourced from the Clogau St. David's mine. The Queen Mother, the Queen, Princess Margaret, the Princess Royal, Diana, Princess of Wales, Sarah, Duchess of York, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duchess of Sussex have all worn wedding rings made of Welsh gold.

Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin wears Queen Charlotte's Nuptial Crown; Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia wears the Imperial Wedding Crown; Princess Margaretha of Sweden wears the Gärdslösa wedding crown (Wikimedia Commons)

Bridal Crowns

In some religious traditions, women wear special bridal crowns -- not tiaras, but teeny crowns -- at the altar when they marry. One of the most famous royal nuptial crowns resides in Hanover. Made for Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom, the tiny diamond crown was part of the British royal collection until the Hanoverian royal family won it in a lawsuit in the 1850s. Since then, it's been worn by numerous Hanoverian brides, including Princess Alexandra of Hanover, who wore it to marry the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1904. The Russian imperial family also used a crown as part of the elaborate regalia worn by imperial brides, placing it behind the famous pointed imperial wedding tiara.

In Scandinavia, many churches have their own bridal crowns, which were (and in some cases, still are) loaned out to brides who marry in that particular church. In 1964, when Princess Margaretha of Sweden married John Ambler in the Gärdslösa Church on the island of Öland, she borrowed the church's distinctive bridal crown to wear with her wedding dress. The bridal tiara favored by several other Swedish royal brides, the Cameo Tiara, conveniently shares some design similarities with a traditional Swedish bridal crown.

Princess Margaretha of Denmark wears a myrtle crown (Wikimedia Commons); Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wears a sprig of myrtle in her bridal tiara (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Sprigs of Myrtle

In 1845, Prince Albert's grandmother gave Queen Victoria a posy of flowers that included sprigs of myrtle. Some of that myrtle was successfully propagated on the grounds of Osborne House, and Queen Victoria's daughters began incorporating it into their bridal bouquets. (Very appropriately: myrtle represents love and innocence in the language of flowers.) Victoria even sent some of the Osborne myrtle to Russia for the wedding of her son, Prince Alfred, to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna in 1874. The tradition has carried on to the present generation, with the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex each carrying bouquets that included myrtle from Osborne.

When Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Margaret of Connaught, married the future King of Sweden in 1905, Victoria sent a cutting of Osborne myrtle along with her to her new Scandinavian home. The plant was successfully reestablished on the grounds of Sofiero Palace, the new couple's summer home. Myrtle was already a popular part of the wedding traditions of Sweden, with many brides fashioning their bridal crowns out of the plant. (Princess Margaretha, Princess Martha, and Princess Astrid of Sweden all wore myrtle crowns for their weddings.) Margaret's descendants began using the Sofiero myrtle in their wedding bouquets and in their hair, too. A close inspection of many of the tiaras of Sweden's royal brides reveals a small sprig of green myrtle tucked in near their veils.

Did you follow any of these traditions at your own weddings?