Forty-five years ago today, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden married Silvia Sommerlath in Stockholm’s cathedral. To celebrate the couple’s anniversary, we’ve got a closer look today at the jewels worn by Silvia during the wedding celebrations.
Silvia wore her first royal tiara at the gala held the night before the wedding. During the concert, she applauded as ABBA performed “Dancing Queen” in her honor. For the celebration, she wore the Connaught Diamond Tiara with the Karl Johan Earrings. The tiara was a sentimental nod to Carl Gustaf’s late mother, Princess Sibylla, who had particularly loved the jewel. In a recent documentary about Sweden’s royal jewelry, Princess Christina (one of the King’s four sisters) revealed that she and her sisters had urged Silvia to wear this particular tiara for the pre-wedding gala, both as a reminder of their mother and as a way to show how excited they were to welcome Silvia to the family. Silvia also wore diamond necklaces with her ensemble.
Silvia also wore a royal heirloom tiara for her wedding ceremony the following day. She arrived at the cathedral wearing the Cameo Tiara, which had previously been worn as a bridal diadem by two of the King’s sisters, Princess Birgitte and Princess Desiree. Several years later, Carl Gustaf and Silvia’s daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, would wear the same tiara on her wedding day, too.
You’ll spot two of the couple’s little attendants in this picture as well. Five of the bridesmaids and pages were nieces and nephews of the couple: three from Carl Gustaf’s side (Prince Hubertus of Hohenzollern, James Ambler, and Baroness Helene Silfverschiold) and two from Silvia’s family (Carmita and Sophie Sommerlath). Amelie Middelschulte, the daughter of one of Silvia’s friends, completed the bridal party. That’s James and Amelie walking directly ahead of the couple down the aisle of the cathedral.
Royals from across Europe attended the wedding. Although more recent Scandinavian royal weddings have been tiara affairs, the guests at this wedding wore hats. The King’s parents had both passed away before his wedding day, so above, you’ll see some of his closest family members in attendance: his aunt, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, resplendent in pearls; and his uncle, Prince Bertil of Sweden, in uniform. Behind Prince Bertil is Lord Mountbatten. He also had a close connection to the family: his sister, Queen Louise, was Carl Gustaf’s step-grandmother.
Here’s a look at Silvia’s wedding jewels in color. In the same recent royal jewelry documentary, she revealed that it had been the King’s idea for her to wear the Cameo Tiara. The tiara’s seed pearls stand out beautifully when worn with a white gown. Silvia sensibly kept the rest of her jewelry to a minimum, wearing just a simple pair of pearl stud earrings.
At the back of her tiara, you’ll see another part of the traditional bridal ensemble for Bernadotte women. The sprigs of greenery that you can see at the top of her veil are myrtle, taken from a bush at Ulriksdal Palace. That myrtle was planted by Crown Princess Margareta (originally at Sofiero Palace) when she came to Sweden from Britain in 1905, and since 1935, every Swedish and Danish royal bride has incorporated myrtle from the same plant into their bridal attire. (The tradition stretches back even further in the United Kingdom, to Margareta’s grandmother, Queen Victoria.) Myrtle symbolizes love and was used in wedding crowns in ancient Greece and Rome.
Along with the tiara, the veil was probably the most significant part of Silvia’s bridal ensemble. The Brussels lace veil dates to the middle of the nineteenth century. It was worn by Queen Sofia of Sweden for her royal wedding in 1858. She bequeathed the veil to her son, Prince Eugen, who in turn gave it to Princess Sibylla, the King’s mother. (Eugen also gave Sibylla the Cameo Tiara.) Sibylla wore the veil on her wedding day in 1932, and since then it has been worn by several more Swedish royal brides: Princess Desiree, Princess Margaretha, Princess Christina, Queen Silvia, and most recently Crown Princess Victoria.
Silvia’s wedding gown, an ultra-sleek and simple design made by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, was designed specifically not to draw attention away from the heirloom veil. The dress was made of duchesse satin with a high neckline and long sleeves.
It also featured an impressively long train, which helped to emphasize the length of Queen Sofia’s veil.
Many royal brides have to navigate the challenge of curtseying to higher-ranking parents and family members after the wedding service has ended. But Silvia didn’t have to worry about curtseying in her wedding gown. The moment she was officially married to King Carl XVI Gustaf, she became Her Majesty The Queen of Sweden. Since then, people have curtseyed to her, not the other way around.
Even a queen consort finds her wedding day to be emotional at times, though. Silvia’s mother sensibly gave her daughter a handkerchief before the service, attaching it to Silvia’s arm with a rubber band that would help to hide it under the long sleeve of her gown. In some photos, like the one above, you can spot the handkerchief peeking out as she waves to the crowd.
Following the wedding ceremony, the King and his new Queen rode in a carriage through the streets of Stockholm, waving to the gathered, cheering crowds. As many as 150,000 Swedes lined the streets to greet their monarch and his new bride.