The flamboyance of royal weddings would put Cinderella’s nuptials to shame. From a true American Princess to a 2,500-guest reception, real life royals are just as indulgent as their cartoon counterpoints. Check out our list of the most ornate and influential royal weddings from the past century.
Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, 1956
A match made in the Cote d’Azure, the union of American silver-screen actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, is remembered as being one of the most glamorous affairs of all time. The extravagant 2-day event involved 700 guests, 1,800 photographers, and a 10.5 carat Cartier diamond ring. After being set up by their mutual friend, actress Olivia de Havilland, the Prince and future Princess of Monaco began a long-distance courtship that lasted seven months, until Prince Rainier popped the question during Christmas festivities at Kelly’s family home in Philadelphia. In true Hollywood fashion, the wedding was filmed and later released by MGM in cinemas and on television. Aptly titled The Wedding of Monaco the footage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier’s big day is estimated to have attracted approximately 30 million viewers worldwide.
Queen Farah Pahlavi and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, 1959
Sometimes it takes a few false starts before achieving “happily ever after”, or at least that was the case of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran. After two previous marriages, the Shah managed to meet his future bride in Paris while visiting Iranian students abroad. Upon their first meeting, the Shah was instantly smitten with the 21-year old Farah Diba and the two were engaged within a year. The royals’ over-the-top wedding was marked by a nod to their Parisian beginnings, with Farah commissioning Yves Saint Laurent to construct a custom Christian Dior gown for her walk down the isle. The future Empress of Iran was adorned with jewells head to toe, famously donning the Noor-ol-Ain Tiara that features a 60 carat pink diamond, one of the largest in the world.
Queen Rania al-Yassin and King Abdullah of Jordan, 1993
The epitome of a whirlwind romance, Jordan’s royal couple are the perfect example of love at first sight. After a chance encounter at a party hosted by the Prince’s sister, King Abdullah quickly fell head over heels for the intelligent and beautiful Rania al-Yassin, a Kuwait born Apple Inc. staffer. The adventurous 2-month courtship included motorbiking across the desert and water skiing on the dead sea, ultimately culminating in the couple’s June 1993 wedding at the Zahran Palace in Amman. The royal family pulled out all the stops for the future monarch’s big day, even designating it a national holiday. Rania looked angelic in the gowns she donned for the ceremony and reception, both commissioned by British designer Bruce Oldfield, while the future King looked handsome and stately in full military regalia. After the traditional Muslim ceremony the company rode across Amman in an open-air limousine to greet their adoring public.
Crown Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, 1993
After meeting in 1986 while attending a party thrown by Infanta Elena of Spain, Japan’s Prince Naruhito was immediately taken with the wit and elegance of Masako Owada, a University of Tokyo law student. Although the Prince was studying abroad at the time, he was committed to winning the affection of Masako, which proved difficult. Masako turned down the Prince’s proposal for marriage twice before eventually accepting to become the Crown Princess of Japan. During the engagement ceremony Prince Naruhito presented traditional betrothal gifts to Masako’s family, including six bottles of sake and five bolts of silk. Finally, on June 9th 1993, the wedding took place, beginning with a dressing ceremony that saw the future Princess don a 30-pound, $300,000 kimono, while the Prince wore a traditional flowing orange robe. Although the 800 guests were not privy to the wedding ceremony itself, they were welcomed to Tokyo’s Togu Palace to help the young couple celebrate their nuptials.
Queen Letizia & King Felipe of Spain, Married in 2004
Throughout history royal marriages have often been decided by politics rather than passion. However, couples such as King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain prove that many modern royals forgo protocol and instead follow their hearts. After two previous girlfriends were vetoed by his parents, the then-Prince of Spain met award winning journalist Letizia Ortiz in 2002. However, the royal romance was the source of much gossip among the aristocratic class, as Letizia was considered a commoner and had been previously married, but the Prince paid these rumours no mind. The two were wed in May 2004, in a ceremony witnessed by 25 million people across Spain. The event was held in Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid, and was attended by 1,700 guests, including Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles. The now-Queen donned a 100-year-old Prussian tiara, and a custom dress designed by Spaniard Manuel Pertegaz, made from Valencia silk and featuring a 15-foot train.