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Royal Watch
Posted at 11:06 AM ET, 04/29/2011

Queen Victoria was the first to get married in white


Queen Victoria of Britain is shown in this undated photo at the time of her 60th year reign. (AP)
Queen Victoria was, in some ways, the original Kate Middleton.

A queen from 1837 to her death in 1901, Victoria was the first to wear white at a wedding and was seen as stylish but too conservative for doing so. Sound familiar? (The Telegraph has called Middleton a “conservative style icon.”

Prior to Victoria, women’s wedding dresses were made in the fashionable colors of their day, according to Newswise. But the young and audacious Victoria decided to dress only in white when she wed her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, on Feb. 10, 1840, in a dress she herself designed.

Victoria’s attire was considered far too restrained by royal standards, with no jewels, crown, or velvet robes trimmed with ermine. White was also considered the color of mourning at the time, so it was an inappropriate hue for a wedding. But Victoria did not care.


The silk satin wedding dress worn by Queen Victoria in 1840, when she married Albert Saxe-Coburg, is prepared by a conservator for conservation work to begin. (Richard Lea-Hair - AP)
The white gown she wore was not so disimilar from Middleton’s. It was also English-made, also lacy, and also with a low neckline. But it differed in that it was made of silk-satin and had a full-pleated skirt.

Victoria also chose white for her 12 bridesmaids. Similarly, Pippa Middleton, Kate’s sister, was noted for wearing an off-white dress as maid of honor at the wedding.

Less than a decade after Victoria married her Albert, the Godey’s Lady’s Book wrote: “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”

It was as if no one had ever worn any other color. And when Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey in her white gown Friday, which is being called “the most perfect wedding dress, ever,” it seemed like no one ever should have.

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By  |  11:06 AM ET, 04/29/2011

 

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