SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Britain’s oldest royal wedding dress on show in London

The oldest surviving royal wedding dress in Britain is now on show for the first time in a decade.

The gown worn by Princess Charlotte of Wales, the House of Hanover’s missing queen, is on display at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace as part of a new summer exhibition.

Princess Charlotte of Wales was second in line to the throne when she married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1816. The wedding of the hugely popular princess and her handsome groom caught the public imagination. However, a year later, it ended in tragedy as Charlotte died giving birth to the couple’s first child, a stillborn son. The throne she was meant to inherit eventually passed to a cousin she never met who became Queen Victoria.

Royal Collection Trust

While Victoria famously wore white for her wedding, Charlotte chose the more traditional silver which was popular with European royal brides at the turn of the 19th century. The dress is made of heavily embroidered silk and features an empire line waist, puff sleeves and a long train.

This historic wedding gown is the star of the exhibition ”Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians” which looks at what fashion can tell us about life in Georgian Britain. Over 200 items are part of the new display.

Also on show are dress samples sent to the Royal Family as they chose their wardrobe for the royal wedding of Charlotte and Leopold. A painting of the ceremony by John Graham is on display – it’s the first time it’s been exhibited in public.

Royal Collection Trust

A court gown worn by Queen Charlotte, grandmother and namesake of the princess, is another of the rare items on display. It will be shown next to a portrait of the queen by Thomas Gainsborough. The exhibition features many paintings and drawings of Georgians, their costumes and jewellery next to rare items worn at the time.

The wedding theme continues with a set of diamonds rings, presented to Queen Charlotte to mark her own marriage in 1761, while other jewellery on display includes are necklace made from dress coat buttons taken from clothing belonging to her husband, King George III.

In this special year, there’s also a nod to coronations. The famous full length portraits of George and Charlotte, painted by Allen Ramsay for their coronations, are also on show.

Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace on April 21 and runs until October 8 2023. Admission can be booked on the Royal Collection Trust website.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.