All royal wedding dresses are keenly anticipated but there is always slightly more interest and slightly more pressure when the gown on show belongs to a queen in waiting. On December 4th 1999, Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz walked into the Town Hall of Brussels for the start of her marriage celebrations to the heir to the throne of Belgium, Philippe. Mathilde’s marriage turned her into the first Belgian born woman in line to be queen of her country and she made sure her wedding dress underlined her roots and her role as a consort in waiting. Twenty years on, here’s a look back at the royal wedding dress of Mathilde of the Belgians.Embed from Getty Images
Mathilde had two weddings that day, a civil ceremony at Brussels Town Hall followed by a religious marriage at the Cathedral of St Michel and St Gudule. She chose to wear the same outfit for both. The bride appeared before the crowds that had gathered to cheer her on her way to the altar dressed all in white. Mathilde chose a full length coat dress with statement collar and long, fitted sleeves. The centre fastening, with its neat row of buttons, gave way to a full skirt that fanned into a long train (well, this is a royal wedding dress, after all). Beneath the coat dress was a fitted gown in the same shade of deep white.Embed from Getty Images
It was a classic design but, like the bride who wore it, it had hidden depths. Mathilde chose a Belgian designer for her wedding gown to underline her role as the first home born consort her country would ever have. Edouard Vermeulen of the design house, Natan, created the gown which was also the last major royal wedding dress of the 20th century.Embed from Getty Images
There were links, too, to other Belgian queens. The bride borrowed an heirloom lace veil from her new mother in law, Queen Paola, to complete her wedding outfit. The vintage Brussels lace had belonged to the family of Italian born Paola for decades. It was held in place by a tiara loaned to Mathilde by Queen Paola but which had first belonged to Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, the great grandmother of the royal groom, Philippe. Mathilde carried a rather large bouquet of white flowers and foliage.Embed from Getty Images
Mathilde’s dress had all the spectacle required of a royal wedding gown but the endless fabric involved in the outfit required some careful management. That fell to her bridal party who were dressed in red with white lace details.Embed from Getty Images
Mathilde became Queen of the Belgians on July 21st 2013 when her husband succeeded to the throne. It was another chapter in a royal story that began on December 4th 1999 in a gown designed for the history books.