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A Royal Wedding: Even the Embroidery is a Secret

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Royal Wedding: Even the Embroidery is a Secret

By: Joy Macdonell

On May 19, 2018 Prince Harry will wed Ms. Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle. This is all we know. Like all royal weddings, the particulars of the event are a secret. Especially the dress!

The wedding will be televised around the world for an audience of adoring fans. Embroiderers should be particularly curious as The Royal School of Needlework secretly worked with designer Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to hand embroider details on the bridal gown for HRH, Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. The embroiderers did not know they were working on a royal wedding gown, they were led to believe it was a costume for a television drama. 

The Royal School of Needlework
The early history of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) is linked with the social, cultural and political history of Victorian and Edwardian Britain. The RSN began as the School of Art Needlework in 1872 founded by Lady Victoria Welby. The first President was Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Queen Victoria's third daughter, known to the RSN as Princess Helena. 

The founding principles of the RSN were two-fold: to revive a beautiful art which had fallen into disuse and, through its revival, to provide employment for educated women who, without a suitable livelihood, would otherwise find themselves compelled to live in poverty.

Located in the Hampton Court Palace, offering a thriving education program for beginners through to advanced levels of hand embroidery certifications. They restore embroidered family heirlooms, home furnishings and items from places of worship. The RSN creates bespoke embroidery for special individual occasions, organizations, and corporations. 

Kate’s Embroidery
Of particular current interest is the question of Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding gown, the designer, and the participation of the Royal School of Needlework. Will we see the work of the Royal Embroiderers on Meghan’s dress like we did on Kate’s? A tweet from @royalneedlework on May 1 announced that Ralph & Russo Haute Couture Atelier team was in the studio reviewing hand embroidery portfolios by RSN Degree students at Hampton Court Palace – is there a royal connection? … Only time will tell.

The attention to detail on Kate’s royal wedding gown was breathtaking – from the hand-cut Chantilly lace of the sleeves, to the lace applique on the bodice and the individual lace roses, thistles, daffodils and shamrocks hand-engineered on to the ivory silk tulle. Her veil was also crafted with hand embroidered flowers, and on the back of her dress were 58 buttons of gazar and organza, which fastened by means of Rouleau loops. 

Kate’s lace was “something old”, her “borrowed” was the tiara from the Queen, “something new” were her earrings from her parents, and a blue ribbon was sewn inside her dress for her “something blue”.

Will Meghan Have Embroidery?
Tradition is very important to the royals. Meghan is marrying in a deeply religious space of St. George’s Chapel, her dress will most likely be modest and probably have some form of sleeve – which leaves plenty of room for embroidery detail along with the veil and train. 

Meghan’s wedding day will be the first time her fans, friends, family, and adoring Prince get to see her dress. Look closely at the details, the Royal Embroiderers will (hopefully) have stitched embroidery into the fabric of this royal wedding.

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About Joy Macdonell

Joy Macdonell (www.craftingwithjoy.com) is a Creative Blogger and Fiber Consultant. Her job has provided her with lots of great opportunities to teach, including as the host of a television show on the DIY network (Greetings, from DIY) and one on PBS (Crafting at The Spotted Canary). She has also been the guest representative for Martha Stewart Crafts on the Home Shopping Network and has been the education director for the Martha Stewart Crafts brand since it launched in 2007. Prior to starting her career with EK Success Brands in 2001, she and her sister owned the very popular scrapbook store in Fairfax, VA, My Scrapbook Store.

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Victoria Frank, Victoria C. Frank, Inc. says...
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2018
It was my understanding that Kate's dress incorporated Carrickmacross lace, not Chantilly.
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