The Royal Wedding I: Ceremony Uniforms & Clothes

Now that the Royal Wedding is over, it is time to look at the clothes that were worn by the main participants. First of all, I must say that the bride looked beautiful. While I am generally not a huge fan of sleeves on a wedding gown, one must bear in mind that she had little choice in that matter. Considering this, I think the delicate lace sleeves were a perfect solution and the dress designer, Sarah Burton, at Alexander McQueen did a marvelous job.

Prince William Irish Guards Uniform

Prince William Irish Guards Uniform

Today, we will introduce you to some of the uniforms worn during the event before we will talk about the royal wedding morning dress of the guests as well as the evening outfits at the reception.

The men in uniform looked very dapper:

Prince William – Uniform of Colonel of the Irish Guards

First of all, let’s start with the groom. Not many would have expected to see Prince William in a scarlet red Irish Guards Mounted Officer’s uniform in the Guard of Honour Order, but I think he made an excellent choice! As a matter of fact, Prince William is commissioned in all three Armed Services. In the past, he has served actively with the Army (The Household Cavalry Regiment) as well as with the Royal Air Force (Search and Rescue Force). As such, he was basically entitled to wear a uniform of either service. In February 2011, William was appointed to the honorary rank of Colonel of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards by the Queen. While

Irish Guards with Bearhead

some expected him to wear the more subdued Royal Air Force uniform, he obviously decided to wear the uniform of his senior honorary appointment in the Army, the tunic of the Irish Guards since it was his uniform with the highest rank. However, it must be mentioned that he decided to display the famous wings of the RAF on his light blue Garter Sash as well as the Garter Star and the Golden Jubilee Medal – not a bad compromise in my opinion.

Royal-Wedding-Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

Traditionally, on ceremonial occasions, the tunic of the Irish Guards is worn with a bearskin hat. However, Prince William went with a Forage Cap that had an eight-pointed Star of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick insignia. Also, the regiment’s motto, “Quis Separabit?” was inscribed, which means “who shall separate us?” Of course, he wore the obligatory white gloves with it. Although he had gold sword slings on his left, he did not wear a sword. In addition, he wore another sash in gold and crimson red since he was in the presence of at least one member of the Royal Family.

Irish Guards Uniform Prince William

The tunic itself has this wonderful scarlet red tone, which is also known as the Guards’ Red, with typical buttons in in groups of four – just take a look at the prominent sleeve buttons. Although you can not see them clearly in this picture, these buttons show the Harp of Ireland surmounted by the Crown Imperial.  Interestingly, the precise arrangement of buttons on the tunic reveals to insiders that the Irish Guards’ position is in the Fourth Regiment of Foot Guards.

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Prince William’s trousers feature the traditional red stripe and are cut very narrowly, as you would expect from a military uniform. His shoes / boots were black, simple and very shiny. Surprisingly, he also wore some gold spurs, as you can see in the picture!

Interestingly, the entire uniform, including headwear,  was tailored and fitted by Mr Russell Kashket from KASHKET & PARTNERS LTD, and not by one of the Savile Row tailoring houses. In addition, Kashket also provided uniforms and clothing for the other men of the wedding party.

The last time a red uniform was worn by a groom in a Royal wedding was in 1973  when Captain Mark Phillips, at the time an officer with the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards, married Anne, Princess Royal.

Irish Guards Background

Originally, the Irish Guards regiment was formed on April 1, 1900 by order of Queen Victoria in order to commemorate the Irish soldiers who fought in the Boer War for the British Empire. Based in Victoria Barracks, Windsor, The Irish Guards battalion consists of five companies with a variety of supporting arms. At the moment, it is deployed to Afghanistan. Members of the Irish Guards are generally recruited from all over the UK, but particularly from Northern Ireland.

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Kashket & Partners Ltd
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Prince Harry  – Blues and Royals Officer’s Uniform in Dismounted Review Order.

Prince William’s best man, his brother, Henry, who is better known as Prince Harry, wore a Blues and Royals officer’s uniform in Dismounted Review Order and a Forage Cap that carried the badge of the Blues and Royals, with inscriptions of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Moreover, he wore a gold

waist belt with sword sling, just like his brother, without a sword. Instead, he had gold aiguillettes (ornamental braided cords), a cross-belt and he proudly carried the Wings of the Army Air Corps and Golden Jubilee and Afghanistan Campaign medals.

The red stripe on his trousers was even wider than the ones on William’s trousers. Of course, he also wore white gloves, black shiny shoes and gold spurs. Note the red piping along the edges of the coat.

Prince Charles – Full Royal Navy Number One Ceremonial Uniform

Their father, Prince Charles of Wales, decided to wear his Royal Navy Number One ceremonial uniform with a sword, Forgage Cap and white gloves.

Prince Philip – The Duke of Edinburgh & Other Members of the Royal Family

The Duke of Edinburgh was dressed in a red Grenadier Guards uniform, which was very similar to William’s uniform, with the exception that he had considerably more decorations.  The Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Gloucester as well the Duke of Kent also wore their military dress uniforms. I particularly like Michael of Kent’s vivid royal blue Sash.

Altogether, the uniforms looked very nice indeed.

Picture credit: AP, BBC One, Wikimedia.

25 replies
  1. J Lucien says:

    Your picture of the “Duke of Kent” is, in fact, a picture of Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke’s younger brother.

  2. Peter Morfe says:

    I’m pretty sure the princes are wearing boots, not shoes: if you look at the picture you provided closely, you can make out the shape of the front of Harry’s left boot. The trousers are known as overalls: they come up very high, must be worn with suspenders, the whole bit, and, in addition to being very tight, they have loops at the bottom like jodhpurs to secure them over the boots. I may be mistaken, but I believe the boots are called Wellington boots and I’m pretty sure the spurs are standard.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Peter Morfe,
      Thanks for your comment. If you compare this to the picture with the Irish Guards, you will notice that they do neither wear boots nor loops and there are also no spurs. That why I pointed out the spurs. Chances are the Princes wore boots but I simply cannot tell from the pictures. However, it looks like they have loops. Most pants from English bespoke establishments are cut high and are worn on the waist supported by suspenders or side adjusters, aren’t they?

  3. Wilford Kale says:

    Prince Michael of Kent is NOT wearing the sash of the Order of the Garter since he is not a member. It is the sash of the Royal Victorian Order of which he is Knight Commander. The other breast badge and neck badge is of the Venerable Order of Saint John; he is a Knight of Justice.

  4. Bram says:

    Just a correction. Prince of Michael of Kent is NOT a Knight Commander in the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). He wears the sash of the grade of Knight Grand Cross (GCVO). He was appointed/promoted from KCVO to GCVO in 2003 (having been made a KCVO in 1992).

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Bram,
      this is indeed correct. His full title is:

      His Royal Highness Prince Michael George Charles Franklin of Kent, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knight of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.

      I wonder how that would look on a calling card.

  5. Bram says:

    Haha, luckily the orders can be abbreviated! But boy are there a lot of abbreviations!

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Even with the abbreviations it probably looks rather like hieroglyphs than a calling card ;).

  6. Smitthy says:

    Has Prince Willam lost weight or is the uniform just too big for him? I think the Latter.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Smitthy,
      Thanks for your comment. Why do you think the uniform is too big on him? Because of the occasional wrinkles around his chest?

  7. Tarleton says:

    I’m afraid I must take exception to the labelling of Captain Mark Phillips’ uniform as being Irish Guards. You correctly identified him as a then serving officer in 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards. Not unsurprisingly, he wore at his wedding the full dress uniform of the QDG, who are the senior regiment of the Cavalry of the Line in the British Army (the next regiment in precedence to Prince Harry’s Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards/ 1st Dragoons), not the Irish Guards. This explains the wearing of a cavalry crossbelt with the distinctive repeated S gold lace of the Queen’s Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards), an ancestor regiment of the QDG, the austrian knots worn by Dragoon Guard regiments on the cuffs, and the Heavy Cavalry 1900 pattern metal helmet with the red plume of the King’s Dragoon Guards (the other antecedent regiment of the QDG). If you look at the collar dogs on Mark Phillips’ uniform, you will note that they are Queen’s Bays badges mounted on dark blue velvet facings of the QDG, as opposed to the silver shamrocks of the Irish Guards embroidered onto the gold net facings of the Foot Guards.
    I can confirm as a serving cavalry officer that both Prince William and Harry wore what are known as ‘Mess Wellingtons’- a calf height equestrian boot with boxed heels for spurs worn by all British army officers in cavalry regiments, or, in Prince William’s case, officers in infantry regiments in mounted or dismounted review order. When performing non review public duties dismounted, officers in the Foot Guards wear ankle length boots known as ‘George boots’ and uniform trousers known as ‘tweeds’ (Lord knows why) that do not strap under the arch of the foot. Other Ranks in the Foot Guards are never mounted in Full Dress, hence the wearing of tweeds and ankle-high ammunition boots seen in your photo of a detachment of Irish Guardsmen marching. Given that Prince William was in Review Order, the trousers (strictly speaking, known as ‘overalls’) he wore DID strap under the heel. Overalls have a very high waist (fishtail back and braces- NEVER side adjusters) as they are also worn with the bum-freezer jackets found in British Mess kit, and are thus akin to the cut of white-tie trousers, if not so loose in the line of the leg.
    Minor points- there is little to no choice in matters of British military Full Dress uniform- if you have earned pilot’s or parachutist’s wings, you have to wear them- it was not a diplomatic nod to the RAF.
    It is not done to wear swords in consecrated places- they are weapons, after all, and although officers can wear them at military weddings, regimental tradition depending, they take them off at the church door. The faff of reattaching your sword to its slings as you leave the church, whilst holding your bride’s arm, your gloves and head dress, means that swords are rarely bothered with by grooms.
    The Prince of Wales’s head dress, being Royal Naval, is not known as a forage cap, which is the correct term for the head dress of William and Harry.
    Lastly- the fit of the groom’s Irish Guards tunic. Bad military tailoring by Kashkets or poor posture? I would hazard a bit of both. Kashkets have the custom of Foot Guards officers as directed by their Adjutants on commissioning but the choice reflects the purchasing power achieved by the regiments appointing a tailor en masse, rather than the moderate but not top notch quality of Kashkets’ work. I speak with experience of having some of my uniforms made on Savile Row and some by Kashket.
    I apologise if my comments seem a little arcane or didactic in tone, but I couldn’t allow the uniform of my Regiment to be mislabelled! I hope the author and other readers understand…

    • Madalin says:

      I like this uniform i dont now the rang because i am not familyar with uniform but i see a lot of defect,it is true not everybodi is work at the same level i spek to my experience i work in Romania 10 year army ,3 year scholl of art to learning this jobs,Venus fashion house.Many tailor is take the secret with as(it is afraid remain without work.)this is the reason uniforms are not brilliant is posible to maked in haryup i working in that situation vhen i work more then 18 hour now i quit i am VIP driver but i miss that job.With regardfully for everybody and i am sorry for my english is not my native language.Happy new year.

      • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

        Dear Madalin,
        Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated and it does not matter at all that English is not your first language.
        I hope you will be able to do what you love again – tailoring uniforms – one day instead of driving.

  8. Joe Zasada says:

    Just a note – orders, decorations, and medals are *not* fashion accessories. The wearing of those items is regulated and those that wear them must wear them properly. Prince William’s ‘wings’ would be worn by anyone in the military who has that qualification regardless of which branch of the service they are in; his order of the garter sash and star would also be worn on any of his dress uniforms. These items are not worn for ‘colour coordination’ or other such things… and he would not have ‘decided’ to wear those items; rather, the regulations would have dictated them.

    Otherwise, an excellent article; much apreciated!

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Joe, thanks for your input. I agree with you that these are technically not accessories, though today anybody can wear anything, and especially Prince William could care less about dress codes and conventions. I have seen reenactors wear all kinds of medals and decorations that do not belong to them and while that would have been socially unacceptable at one point in time, most people would probably never notice it today.

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