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British RoyalsFeaturesHistoryInsightThe Kents

Royal Wedding Dresses: The Kent Brides


Royal Central

The modern brides of the House of Kent have all made history with their royal marriages in one way or another and the gowns they wore on their big day are certainly memorable. Two took centre stage in some of the most ancient churches in England while another was worn at a very modern marriage hundreds of miles from home. They share an air of romance while having striking features all of their own. From mother knows best to the height of Seventies style, they are all moments of royal wedding chic to savour.

The Duchess of Kent

When Katharine Worlsey walked into York Minster on June 8th 1961 to marry Edward, Duke of Kent she became that church’s first royal bride in 650 years. Her royal wedding was a major event and the dress she wore matched the billing. Made of patterned white silk gauze, it featured a high scooped neckline, long sleeves and a very fitted waist. The full length skirt ballooned out around the bride and was covered at the back by a fifteen foot train, attached at the waist, and accompanied by a tulle veil.

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The new Duchess of Kent had relied on the recommendation of her mother-in-law, the always stylish Princess Marina, for her wedding dress designer. The man responsible for the gown, John Cavanagh, had been dressing the Dowager Duchess of Kent for years and had spent part of his early career working with Edward Molyneux who had designed Marina’s own wedding gown.

Princess Alexandra of Kent

Cavanagh got a second royal wedding commission two years later when Princess Marina’s only daughter, Alexandra, married Angus Ogilvy at Westminster Abbey. For this ceremony, which took place on April 24th 1963, Cavanagh created a clean design featuring a bodice with simple scoop neckline and long sleeves and a slightly flared full length skirt. It needed to be simple in structure because this gown was all about the lace.

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Princess Alexandra had set her heart on Valenciennes lace for her wedding dress and the pure white fabric featured intricate design that did all the talking. Her wedding veil, which stretched out over twenty feet behind her, was made of the same material. It was held in place by a diamond fringe tiara, given to her mother as a wedding gift by the City of London, and which Marina had worn to her own marriage.

Princess Michael of Kent

The tiara was worn again by another Kent bride on June 30th 1978 when Marie-Christine von Reibnitz celebrated her marriage to Prince Michael of Kent. The couple wed in a civil ceremony at the Town Hall in Vienna as Marie-Christine was divorced. For that part of her celebrations, the bride chose a cream two piece suit by royal favourite, Hardy Amies. The tiara made an appearance later that same day.

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For following their marriage, the newlyweds enjoyed a wedding ball at the Schwarzenberg Palace where the bride donned the diadem that had once belonged to Marina. The new Princess Michael of Kent wore it with a cream dress from Bellville Sassoon that was very much of its time. The full length gown was adorned with lace and featured long sleeves with detailed cuffs and a high neckline which the bride covered in strands of pearls.

It was a dress that completed a trio of romantic outfits from the brides of that generation of Kent women.

You can find out even more about the brides of the House of Kent in our new book, all about royal weddings. Royal Weddings: A Collection is available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is 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, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. 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.