• Chocolate Duchess

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex: A Tale of Three Wedding Gowns

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day at St George's Chapel and at Windsor Castle

Even though I thought the new Duchess of Sussex beautifully invoked the mythical Queen Guinevere in her Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy couture wedding gown and looked like a dream, here’s why I liked her Stella McCartney dress the most (and even had a flicker of disappointment in the first dress).

By now you will have read more than a few descriptions of the former Meghan Markle’s breathtaking Givenchy wedding dress. It was pristine white silk, with an elegant bateau neckline and a classic silhouette that we absolutely should not have been surprised by. This dress is the Royal version of what Meghan Markle had called “everything goals” – the white silk Narciso Rodriguez slipdress worn by Carolyn Bessette when she married JFK, Jr. in 1996. The Duchess paired her dress with a dramatically long and exquisite silk tulle veil, also designed by Clare Waight Keller, with the official flower of each of the 53 Commonwealth nations embroidered along its edges. Queen Mary’s glittering Diamond Bandeau Tiara – a piece that hasn’t been seen in decades- completed a fairy-tale perfect look.

In short, this dress fit The Duchess of Sussex’s relaxed, elegant style to a T. So did her second dress, worn to the evening reception hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at Frogmore House, a sleek yet luxurious white halter dress by Stella McCartney. The Stella McCartney dress seemed like what The Duchess would have worn if she was just having a black-tie wedding and not a Royal Wedding at the ancient St George’s Chapel, Windsor. It's fashionable, but has classic lines that will stand the test of time. I think that even though Her Royal Highness hit all the right notes with her ceremony gown, this is the one she seemed most herself in.

So what on earth could there be to be disappointed about? I think you’d have to be a serious Royal watcher and geek to even care, but I never said I wasn’t. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex is not the first woman of known African heritage to marry into a European Royal house. That would be Her Serene Highness Princess Angela of Lichtenstein. Princess Angela was a fashion designer for Adrienne Vittadini prior to her marriage, and designed her own dress for her wedding to Prince Maximilian in January 2000. And here it is.

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Maximilian and Princess Angela of Liechtenstein on their wedding day at New York City's Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 2000

White dress? Check. Bateau neckline? Check. Clean lines? Check. Heirloom Tiara? Check. (Princess Angela wore The Kinsky Tiara: https://bit.ly/2kbu646)

Yes, the way-more-famous Chocolate Duchess of The House of Windsor wore essentially the same gown as the lovely Chocolate Princess of The House of Lichtenstein. Now, I KNOW that it is not not the same dress. I’ve already noted that Princess Angela designed her own gown, so she didn’t have the impeccable seamstresses of the House of Givenchy to back her up. I also seriously doubt that Princess Angela’s dress came with such a high six-figure price tag. But these dresses share the same silhouette, color, and ¾-length sleeves. To the untrained eye (which is most damn eyes), these dresses are identical.

I wonder if Clare Wight Keller has even seen Princess Angela’s wedding pictures (honestly, most people haven’t). I wonder if she had seen them, if she would have shared them with Meghan Markle as they discussed her dream wedding dress. I wonder if they would have even cared had they known they were planning something very similar. Who besides obsessive nerds like me remembers practically every Royal wedding dress they’ve ever seen a photo of? It was almost 20 years ago, for heaven’s sake! But for this obsessive nerd, while I marveled at the magic playing out before my eyes on Saturday (Meghan coming down the aisle of St George’s in that magical light was breathtaking and Prince Harry’s reaction upon seeing her was so romantic), the flicker of recognition I felt led to a feeling of profound disappointment. We don't have enough Chocolate Royals in the world for their wedding dresses to be so similar.

I loved the way The Duchess of Sussex looked and I adored every moment of watching an American TV star transform into a Royal Duchess…I just wish I hadn’t been reminded of anything else.

- Written by Marcia Masenda Mack