Sophie Wessex’s wedding tiara broke tradition from ‘most royal brides’ – ‘unpretentious’

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones get married in 1999

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Royal weddings are always exciting events for fans who love to see what the guests will wear, but most importantly the bride’s gown. When Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, as she was then known, tied the knot on June 19, 1999, their wedding did not disappoint. However, their nuptials were a slightly different affair than royal weddings that had come before.

Just two years after the death of Princess Diana, the Royal Family was mindful of their PR and how everything would look to the public.

Therefore, the Wessexes had a much more slimmed-down wedding at St George’s Chapel, compared to Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral where Edward’s siblings had married.

Sophie and Edward’s wedding guests were also instructed to wear evening gowns and smart attire, but no hats or headpieces, which are normally customary. What was the hidden meaning behind this fashion decision?

Daniel O’Farrell, the founder, bespoke Jeweller and diamond Expert at DC Jewellery spoke exclusively to to explain.

He said: “Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward are among the most unpretentious members of the British Royal Family and their wedding in 1999 clearly reflected this.

“The bride and groom insisted on an informal family affair, minus all the ceremonial fuss and fanfare of Prince Edward’s siblings’ weddings.

“In fact, the couple wanted their guests to be comfortable and requested everyone to come dressed in evening gowns or smart attire, but without any hats or headpieces,” the expert noted.

What did Sophie wear to her wedding?

Mr O’Farrell explained: “The bride wore a Samantha Shaw coat dress made of silk organza. It had a V-neck, long sleeves, a full-length skirt and a short train.

“Over 325,000 pearls and crystal beads covered the dress. Interestingly, Sophie’s crystal-studded full-length silk tulle veil was longer than her train,” the expert added.

What accessories did the new Countess of Wessex wear?

Mr O’Farrell continued: “Sophie stayed very true to her sense of style on her wedding day, especially with her choice of accessories.

“She usually opts for a classic heel and has a particular fancy for quaint jewellery and unique headpieces. On the day, the bride accessorised with simple white heeled pumps.

“Her ‘wow’ elements were her black and white cross motif pearl necklace with matching black and white pearl drop earrings, both of which were a wedding gift from Prince Edward, who had them created by Asprey and Garrard.

“Sophie finished off her look with the Anthemion tiara from the Queen’s collection.”

What is the history of the Anthemion tiara?

The expert commented: “A little-known fact about this tiara is the ties it has to Queen Victoria. The four anthemion elements of the tiara were originally alternative pieces from Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet, which had numerous other detachable elements.

“Reworking the four old anthemion elements into a new tiara for Sophie to wear at her wedding gave her both, her ‘something old’ as well as her ‘something new’ like the old English wedding rhyme dictates for brides.”

How did Sophie’s tiara differ from royal tradition?

Mr O’Farrell claimed: “While most royal brides borrow a tiara from the Queen for their wedding day, Sophie’s tiara was specially designed for her.

“She has added her own personal touch to the tiara by adding a new row of diamonds to the band of the tiara, along the hairline.

“It is so special to Sophie that she has re-worn it on numerous occasions after her wedding day, including at several European royal weddings.”

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