Meghan Markle’s wedding dress designer says there was pressure to make dress ‘flawless’

‘It has to be flawless, it has to be perfect,’ the designer says in the Sussexes’ docuseries

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 15 December 2022 18:09 GMT
Harry and Meghan share what unexpected song they had their first dance to

Clare Waight Keller has reflected on the pressure of designing the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding dress.

In the fourth episode of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Netflix docuseries, Harry and Meghan, the former Givenchy artistic director reflected on designing the duchess’ gown for her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.

“Looking at the design of the dress, there were many conversations we had over how you want to present yourself to the world,” Waight Keller explained in an interview during the documentary.

The British designer spoke about how the royal wedding, which was watched by 29 million people in the United States, amplified the stakes of designing the gown.

“I mean, most of us have a wedding with, you know, 70 to 200 people. This was billions of people watching this wedding,” she said. “It has to be flawless, it has to be perfect.”

On 19 May, 2018, Meghan walked down the aisle at St George’s Chapel wearing the Givenchy dress designed by Waight Keller. The duchess worked closely with Waight Keller to create her wedding dress, having admired the designer’s "elegant aesthetic" and "relaxed demeanour."

The gown featured a bateau neckline and five-meter-long veil, which was embroidered with flora from all 53 countries in the Commonwealth. Two of Meghan’s favourite flowers were also added to the veil: the wintersweet flower, which grows in front of Nottingham Cottage where she and Prince Harry lived, and the California poppy from her home state in the US.

The tiara worn by Meghan during the ceremony was lent to her by the late Queen Elizabeth II. The diamond bandeau of Queen Mary’s tiara, which held the duchess’ veil in place, was made in 1932, with the brooch at the center created in 1893.

“I had a very clear vision of what I wanted for the day, and what I wanted the dress to look like, and so what was amazing in working with Clare is that sometimes you’ll find designers try to push you in a different direction,” the duchess said about the dress, which was put on display as part of a royal wedding exhibition at Windsor Castle in 2018. “But she just completely respected what I wanted to see for the day, and she wanted to bring that to life for me.”

The royal admitted that she was very specific in her preferences for the dress, opting for a bateau neckline, which Meghan had become known for wearing while working as a senior member of the royal family.

“So I knew at the onset I wanted a bateau neckline, I wanted a cropped sleeve, I wanted a very timeless, classic feeling,” she said. “Obviously with respect to the environment we were in and St George’s Chapel, being really modest in what it would look like, I knew that the tailoring was so key, because the dress itself would be so covered up.”

The final three episodes of the duke and duchess’ Netflix docuseries, Harry and Meghan, were released on Thursday, 15 December. Volume two of the record-breaking documentary series shared many details about the couple’s 2018 wedding, including her one wish for the big day.

During the fourth episode, Meghan recalled that she wasn’t nearly as nervous as she expected to be, and simply wanted three things for the special occasion.

“On the day of our wedding, it’s like I went into a really calm space. I don’t know how I was so calm,” she said. “I look back at that: How was I so calm? And all I wanted was a mimosa, a croissant. And to play the song ‘Going to the Chapel.’ And, that’s what I did. And it was great.”

Meghan also spoke about how Prince Harry’s father, King Charles III, played an important role on their wedding day by walking her halfway down the aisle.

“Harry’s dad is very charming,” she explained. “And I said to him like: ‘I’ve lost my dad in this.’ So him as my father-in-law was really important to me. So I asked him to walk me down the aisle, and he said yes. The whole thing was surreal. It was at that moment I could see H.”

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