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Spain

The wedding dress of Queen Letizia of Spain

Though she was an unconventional bride, this future Spanish queen chose conventional royal styling on her wedding day 20 years ago.

Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano shocked Spain when news of their impending engagement was leaked in late October 2003: their romance had been so under wraps that outside of their close circle of family and friends, nobody had any idea that the future king and the television journalist were a couple.

But in early November 2003, the Spanish Royal Court confirmed that Felipe and Letizia were engaged and announced that the pair would marry in May 2004 at the Almudena Cathedral at the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Letizia was an unconventional bride considering she was previously married—her short marriage had begun with a civil ceremony and was thus not recognised in the Catholic religion—but this did not stop her from pulling out all the stops for her royal wedding: she chose a trusted couturier, Manuel Pertegaz, to design her wedding dress; and she wore a tiara loaned by Queen Sofía.

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Pertegaz was Spain’s most important designer: in his early career, he’d been tapped to take over at Dior but chose to stay in Spain; his career took off and he soon became a premier designer for Hollywood royalty, governmental figures, and royals.

He was asked to design Letizia’s wedding dress at the age of 86, and created the most expensive royal wedding dress of all time.

Letizia’s wedding gown was a Valencia silk concoction with long sleeves, a high collar, and a wide skirt that flowed into a 4.5m train. The embroidery on her gown featured wheat and lilies and were sewn with gold and silver thread.

Upon her head was a cathedral-length silk tulle veil embroidered with fleur-de-lys and wreathes anchored by the Prussian tiara. The veil had been a gift from Felipe and the tiara a loan from Queen Sofía.

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The Prussian tiara is a diamond-and-platinum kokoshnik tiara created for Princess Viktoria Luise in 1913 on her wedding day. Princess Viktoria Luise had one daughter, Frederike, who would later become Queen Frederike of the Helenes.

Queen Frederike’s three children include Queen Sofía, King Constantine II of Greece, and Princess Irene. When Sofía married Juan Carlos in 1962, she received the Prussian tiara as a wedding gift and brought it to Spain, where it has been worn by most of the female members of the Spanish Royal Family.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía gifted Letizia with her fleur-de-lys diamond earrings as well.

Queen Letizia’s wedding gown is in the Guinness World Records for being the most expensive royal wedding gown. It is rumoured to have cost £6 million.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.