Most royal weddings in Europe take place in the balmy, warm months of summer. But not all of them! Today, we’re looking at three British princesses who were married during the month of November, and the glittering jewels they wore as they walked down the aisle.
We’ll begin way back in November 1934. Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, the 28-year-old daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, became a British royal duchess when she married 31-year-old Prince George, Duke of Kent. George was the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. His father had given him the title of Duke of Kent a few weeks before the wedding, which took place in London on November 29, 1934.
Princess Marina was one of the most elegant royal women of her generation. She was revered as a fashion icon around the globe, and her wedding dress was the perfect ensemble for a fashionable ’30s royal bride. The gown was made by Edward Molyneux, the British army captain who had opened his own fashion house in Paris after World War I. The delicate dress was made of white and silver brocade, with English roses embroidered into the fabric. The gown featured a draped cowl neck and generous sleeves, inspired by medieval designs. The long train of the gown was lined with silver lamé, another on-trend choice for a ’30s bride.
Though you’ll see many state that Princess Marina wore her own diamond fringe tiara (the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara) for her wedding, she actually wore her mother’s diamond fringe tiara on the day. The tiara had originally belonged to Marina’s Romanov grandmother, the famed Grand Duchess Vladimir. Marina also wore a diamond necklace and diamond drop earrings, plus the Royal Family Order of her new father-in-law, King George V. In some photographs from the wedding day, a small diamond brooch is pinned at the center of her gown’s neckline as well.
George and Marina were married in a pair of ceremonies. The first was a grand Anglican wedding in front of 4,000 guests at Westminster Abbey, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Duke placed a traditional Welsh gold wedding ring on his bride’s finger in front of an impressive roster of royal guests. This was the first royal wedding broadcast on the radio, so millions of people around the country and abroad were able to listen to the ceremony as well. Afterward, in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, a second Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony took place. Two of the Duke’s older brothers, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, assisted as crown bearers. (The third, the Duke of Gloucester, listened to the service on the wireless from Australia, where he was in the midst of a royal tour. He cabled his congratulations to London.)
The couple posed for photographs at the palace with their families, including several visiting monarchs. Seated on the floor are the two littlest bridesmaids, Lady Mary Cambridge and Princess Elizabeth of York (Queen Elizabeth II). Standing in the front row are Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, Queen Maud of Norway, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, King George V of the United Kingdom, Princess Marina and Prince George, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom, King Christian X of Denmark, and Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. In the back row are King Haakon VII of Norway (partially obscured), Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, Prince Waldemar of Denmark, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, Princess Helena Victoria, King George II of the Hellenes, and Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark.
And here’s a look at the Duke and Duchess of Kent with their supporters and bridesmaids. From left to right: Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark, Lady Iris Mountbatten, the Prince of Wales, Lady Mary Cambridge (seated), Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark, the bride and groom, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, Princess Elizabeth of York (seated), the Duke of York, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands.
After the wedding breakfast, George and Marina left Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn coach for their honeymoon. The little bridesmaids chased after, with Princess Elizabeth pulling her little sister, Princess Margaret, by the hand. The British newspapers reported that “Princess Elizabeth was highly excited, and threw handful after handful of silver tokens and rose leaves at the Duke and Duchess.”
Almost thirteen years later, the excitable little bridesmaid from the Kent wedding had her own November wedding at Westminster Abbey. Twenty-one-year-old Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, elder daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, married 26-year-old Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on November 20, 1947. Philip, who was a cousin of Princess Marina, had renounced his Greek titles, so he was simply Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten when he became engaged to the future Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal wedding was a much-needed morale boost for Britons who were still living in post-war austerity. Royals from across Europe were among the thousands that packed the Abbey, while 200 million more listened to the ceremony on the radio around the world. The couple were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Archbishop of York.
The beaming princess wore a bridal gown of duchesse satin created by Sir Norman Hartnell. The dress was embroidered with flowers, including star lilies and orange blossoms. Extra ration coupons had been provided to the princess to accommodate the elaborate dress. Her veil was anchored by Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, which famously broke and had to be repaired just before the service. Her bridal jewelry also included the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline Pearl Necklaces (which had to be heroically retrieved from another palace in time for the wedding!) and the Gloucester Pearl and Diamond Earrings. During the ceremony, Philip placed a wedding ring on her finger made from a nugget of Welsh gold.
Following tradition, the royals were photographed with the couple and their supporters at Buckingham Palace on the wedding day. In the front row, we’ve got Queen Mary of the United Kingdom, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, Prince William of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent, King George VI of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, and the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven. In the back row: the Hon. Margaret Elphinstone, Lady Pamela Mountbatten, Lady Mary Cambridge, Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Marquess of Milford Haven, the bride and groom, Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Elizabeth Lambart, and Diana Bowes-Lyon.
The bride and groom were joined by members of their family and the bridal party as they waved to the crowd from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Unlike the previous Greek/British royal wedding, there was no Greek Orthodox ceremony at the palace’s private chapel this time. Philip had converted to Anglicanism ahead of the wedding. He’d also been given a new title by his father-in-law, becoming HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
Nearly 26 years later, the royals were on the palace balcony again for yet another November royal wedding. Princess Anne, the 23-year-old daughter of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Duke of Edinburgh, wed Captain Mark Phillips, a 25-year-old army officer who had recently won a gold medal at the Olympics in Munich.
Like the weddings of Princess Marina and Princess Elizabeth, Princess Anne married her groom at Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding took place on November 14, 1973 (which also happened to be the 25th birthday of her elder brother, the Prince of Wales). Anne’s gown, which was designed by Maureen Baker, was Tudor-inspired. She followed in her mother’s footsteps, wearing Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara as a bridal diadem, and finished off the look with a pair of diamond floral earrings. Her wedding ring was made from the same nugget of Welsh gold that had been used for the rings of her mother and her grandmother.
The royals gathered for the traditional group photograph in the throne room at Buckingham Palace after the wedding ceremony. Several royal children are gathered in the front of the photograph: James Ogilvy, Prince Edward (who was a page boy), Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (who was a bridesmaid), Marina Ogilvy, Viscount Linley, Lady Helen Windsor, and the Earl of St. Andrews. In the front row of adults: Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands; Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone; Crown Prince Harald of Norway; the groom and the bride; Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom; Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother; Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom; the Earl of Snowdon; and Prince Michael of Kent.
In the second row: King Constantine II of Greece; Queen Anne-Marie of Greece; Crown Princess Sonja of Norway; the Duchess of Kent; Eric Grounds (the best man); the Duke of Edinburgh; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester; Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom; and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain. And in the back row: Prince Claus of the Netherlands; Sarah Phillips; Peter Phillips; Anne Phillips; Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Mrs. Ogilvy; the Hon. Angus Ogilvy; Princess Richard of Gloucester; Prince Richard of Gloucester; the Duke of Kent; the Prince of Wales; Lord Mountbatten; and Princess Sofia of Spain.