Burton envisioned a unique theme paying tribute to Great Britain with four national flowers: “the English rose, Welsh daffodil, Irish shamrock, and Scottish thistle,” says Butcher. The RSN team precisely hand-engineered the appliqués using the Carrickmacross process, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. “The lace is worked by applying organdy fabric to a delicate net background and edging each motif with fine cord-like thread,” explains Butcher, who, along with her colleagues, washed their hands every 30 minutes to maintain spotlessness.
But, the entire time, Burton’s identity remained a mystery. “We are used to keeping secrets,” says Butcher. “We knew the project was the wedding dress of the Princess of Wales, but we didn’t know who the designer was. We were as excited as the public to see the completed dress on the day, and find out the designer that had created it.”
Dazzling in “Something Borrowed”
To hold her 16.5-foot-long silk tulle veil in place, Middleton borrowed her grandmother-in-law’s Cartier “halo” tiara, boasting an ancestral history of its own. “It was a symbol of acceptance and welcome into the Royal family,” says Collins. Created in 1936, the demure halo—gleaming with 739 brilliant and 149 baton diamonds—was shared amongst generations of royals: the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and, of course, Queen Elizabeth II, who received it on her 18th birthday.
“Kate was always very conscious of honoring the Queen; being respectful to her,” says Holt. “So by choosing a tiara that was really personal and precious to her would have been quite an important decision—and I’m sure one that the Queen appreciated, as well.”
Starting Trends With a Second Wedding Dress
After the ceremony, Kate Middleton debuted a second wedding dress, resplendent with a sweetheart neckline, a wide silver crystal-embellished belt, and a soft mohair shrug—again custom-designed by Burton.
Collins thinks that Middleton’s playfully chic sweater illustrates the idea of a people’s princess—and one who continuously sets fashion trends. “While most can’t afford intricate lace and lavish satin, a button-up cropped cardigan is relatable,” says Collins. “It subtly underscores Catherine’s commoner background.”
The candid photo of Middleton, on her way to a VIP reception hosted by the Queen, in the layered ensemble also offers a peek into the private lives of the royals. “That look was showing us what Kate, the girl who was marrying a boy called William, would have worn to her wedding, not what a future queen was going to wear for the wedding to a future king,” says Holt. “It was much more about her own personal style.”