A day at Windsor Castle for a Royal Wedding exhibition: HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank wedding outfits

For the first time in ages I went back to Windsor Castle and the occasion was really special: I was invited to a preview of the exhibition called A Royal Wedding: HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank that showcases the royal couple’s wedding outfits of HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank from tomorrow until to 22 April 2019 inside the Great Reception Room, which is one of the rooms along with the Waterloo Chamber and St. George’s Hall, where the stand-up reception took place – just like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had following their nuptials in May. 

The special exhibition ‘A Royal Wedding: HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank’ in the Grand Reception Room at Windsor Castle, 1 March – 22 April 2019. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved 

I took my lovely friend and star blogger Vicki from Honest Mum along as she loves Royal Weddings as much as I do. The exhibition is stunning and includes well-crafted fashion pieces that will be remembered for a long time. I was so impressed by the elegance and true emotions displayed by this royal couple that I even cried while watching the ceremony on television. 

I am here with Vicki from Honest Mum

Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress, which was created by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos of the British-based label Peter Pilotto, is one of my favourite royal outfits in the last few years. During the exhibition preview presented by the lovely curator Caroline de Guitaut, I truly appreciated the reasons why this dress will become so memorable over time.

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments to the exhibition – Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

First of all, so much love has gone into making the outfits. Princess Eugenie met the designers while co-hosting an event in support of women artists and has been wearing designs by the Peter Pilotto brand – which is known for its innovative textile design – for several years. 

HRH Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress, created by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, founders of the British-based label Peter Pilotto. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved 

Secondly, Her Royal Highness specifically requested a low back to show the scar from surgery she underwent aged 12 to correct scoliosis. This shows sensitivity and pride and tell  us how graceful Princess Eugenie is. I really love everything about her. In a recording made for visitors to the exhibition, Princess Eugenie explains that she specifically requested a low back to the dress in order to show this scar. She says, ‘I had always wanted a low back, part of it was showing my scar. 

I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future and it’s a way of getting rid of a taboo. For me it’s a way of communicating with people who are going through either similar situations with scoliosis or having a scar of their own they are trying to deal with.’

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments to the exhibition Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

Both the wedding dress and the evening outfit are flattering and displayed the Princess’ grace in the best possible way. 

Details of the garland motif containing the White Rose of York that was woven into the jacquard fabric of HRH Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress created by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

There are lots of shades of white woven into the wedding dress, which took a few months to make from the initial designs and engineering of the fabric.  The fabric of the dress, also designed by Mr Pilotto and Mr De Vos, includes a number of symbols that are meaningful to Princess Eugenie. They include the White Rose of York and ivy, representing the couple’s home, Ivy Cottage.  The symbols were reinterpreted in a garland motif which was woven into a jacquard of silk, cotton and viscose blend using an intricate weaving technique. 

Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

 
In the recording for visitors, Mr Pilotto says, ‘When it came to the textile…we wanted to engineer the garlands containing all the symbols that were important to Princess Eugenie, so there’s a sense of progression from small to large in a wave-like motif around the whole dress…It was all about the beautiful silhouette but yet the motif adding a sort of richness to the fabric.’
 
Princess Eugenie, Mr Pilotto and Mr De Vos worked closely together on the design of the dress.  The designers researched previous wedding dresses worn by members of the Royal Family and identified a silhouette.  During several fittings, the dress was developed layer by layer, from the corset and complex underskirt to the fitted bodice and full pleated skirt. The dress has a neckline that folds around the shoulders to a low back, which drapes into a flowing full-length train (about 3-3.5 metres).

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

 

Other highlights of the exhibition include the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, on public display for the first time and lent to Princess Eugenie by Her Majesty The Queen. It was the first time she wore a Tiara and she was thrilled about it. 

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments to the exhibition.  Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

Princess Eugenie wore the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, which was lent to her by Her Majesty The Queen.  On public display for the first time, the tiara is made of brilliant and rose cut diamonds pavé set in platinum, with six emeralds on either side.  It was made by the Parisian jewellery house Boucheron for Mrs Greville in 1919 in the fashionable ‘kokoshnik’ style popularised in the Russian Imperial Court.  Mrs Greville bequeathed the tiara to Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, in 1942.  Along with the Tiara there were Princess Eugenie’s beautiful diamond and emerald drop earrings, which were a wedding gift from the groom. 

The groom, Jack Brooksbank, was very good looking on the wedding day. His morning suit was a black and grey morning suit with a vivid blue waistcoat, made by tailors at Huntsman on Savile Row. 

A replica of Her Royal Highness’s bridal bouquet, made from artificial flowers, has been created for the exhibition.  Designed by Rob Van Helden Floral Design, the bouquet consisted of lily of the valley, stephanotis pips, baby-blue thistles, white spray roses, trailing ivy and sprigs of myrtle from Osborne House.

The myrtle bush at Osborne grew from a piece in the posy given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert’s grandmother the year that the royal couple bought the house on the Isle of Wight as a family retreat. A sprig from the shrub was carried in the bridal bouquet of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, at her wedding in 1858, and the tradition has been continued by royal brides ever since.

Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

I dare say that my favourite outfit on display was Princess Eugenie’s evening gown created by the American designer Zac Posen inspired by Grace Kelly’s dress in the movie Catch a thief. 

Grace Kelly was in a vintage blue chiffon gown in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie To Catch a Thief. Grace Kelly blue dress was a floor length a-line evening prom gown, with spaghetti straps and draped detailing at the shoulder. The two-toned chiffon color looked great on her.

The subtle blush colour adds power to the design that has both drama and elegance. This dress is also inspired by Victorian architecture and by the Queen’s veil. Zac Posen’s highly finished dress has a cape made of silk sourced in England. 

HRH Princess Eugenie’s evening gown, created by the American designer Zac Posen. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

Mr Posen took inspiration from the beauty of Windsor Castle and the surrounding countryside, and chose a fabric in the blush colour of an English rose.

HRH Princess Eugenie’s evening gown, created by the American designer Zac Posen. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

The gown is made of British silk chiffon and incorporates a cape, subtly embroidered with the White Rose of York, gathered at the lower back and draping into a softly pleated full-length train.

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments to the evening gown. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved 

I loved it the first time I saw it worn by the Princess after the wedding but seeing it live made me dream about having a dress as smooth as that one day. It made the Princess look like she was floating. This dress is a work of art not just a fashion piece. 

Also on display are two diamond wheat-ear brooches, lent to Her Royal Highness by Her Majesty The Queen and worn by the Princess as hair slides at the evening reception. On public display for the first time, the brooches were originally commissioned by William IV (1765–1837) for Queen Adelaide (1792–1849) and were inherited by Her Majesty in 1952.  The Queen has worn them as both hair slides and brooches.

The display also includes the maid-of-honour outfit of HRH Princess Beatrice of York. She wore a blue dress with an asymmetrical neckline by the London-based couture house Ralph & Russo, and a blue and purple headpiece by British milliner Sarah Cant.

HRH Princess Beatrice’s maid-of-honour outfit, designed by the couture house Ralph & Russo, with a headpiece designed by Sarah Cant. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

The outfits of the six bridesmaids and two pageboys were by the London-based children’s designer Amaia Kids. The pattern on their sashes was based on a work by the American artist Mark Bradford, which was also reproduced on the Order of Service. The exhibition includes the bridesmaid and pageboy outfits of Miss Theodora Williams and Master Louis de Givenchy. 

Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) All Rights Reserved

A Royal Wedding: HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank can be seen as part of a visit to Windsor Castle from 1 March to 22 April 2019 with no additional ticket. Kids would enjoy it too, although they would be much faster than I was to look at the details of the outfits. 

To book tickets for guaranteed entry to Windsor Castle or for visitor information, check www.rct.uk or telephone +44 (0)303 123 7304. 

 

Related features:

Buckingham Palace opens its doors to families

Attraction review: Why visit Hampton Court Palace with the kids

 

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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