32 of the most iconic royal wedding pictures ever, from Kate Middleton to Grace Kelly's glamorous nuptials

There's nothing like a royal wedding to bring a touch of fairy tale magic to real life

L_R: Grace Kelly's wedding to Prince Rainier, Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding kiss, Meghan Markle in her wedding dress
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A wedding is always a cause for celebration, a testament to the power of love and hope. But a royal wedding takes this to new heights. 

Whether it's the royals showcasing some of the best wedding dresses of all time or treating fans to a glittering tiara moment, royal weddings can feel like they're lifted straight from a fairy tale. 

And it's not always just about the bride and groom - royal weddings bring out a host of best-dressed guests from the world of showbiz and high society. 

All of this means that when there's a royal wedding, there is a guarantee of some truly memorable photos. Here, we take a look at some of the best.

32 of the most iconic royal wedding pictures ever

Kate Middleton debuts the dress

Pippa Middleton carries Kate Middleton's train on her wedding day

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It was one of the most guarded secrets in 2011, but on April 29 the world finally saw Kate Middleton's wedding dress, in what is easily one of the most memorable Kate Middleton moments, ever.

With her sister, Pippa Middleton on hand to help keep the elegant, lacy dress in order, the world could see the elaborate work created by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

The dress was such a painstaking labour of love and there are some fascinating details behind it. For example, per the BBC, embroiderers from the London Royal School of Needlework had to wash their hands every 30 minutes while working on it to keep the lace pristine.

The gown reportedly predominantly used French Chantilly lace and English Cluny lace, and four plant motifs - a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - were hand-cut and hand-appliquéd onto the silk tulle. 

Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family by Tom Quinn | £10.02 at Amazon

Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family by Tom Quinn | £10.02 at Amazon

Exploring what it's like to grow up in the Royal Family, Tom Quinn brings together historical sources with testimonies from palace staff. There are tales of royal mischievousness, including surprising anecdotes about Queen Elizabeth and Prince William, and it's shocking, funny and insightful all at once.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana's kiss starts a tradition

Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding day kiss

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Prince Charles and Princess Diana's love story might not have had the fairy tale ending, but there's no denying the magic their wedding cast across the world in 1981. 

As this iconic photo captures, Diana, in her ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown looked every inch the princess as she kissed her new husband on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

This photo isn't just one of the defining images of a royal wedding, it captures the birth of a new tradition. Diana and Charles were the first royal couple to kiss publicly on the balcony, and it's been followed by most royal weddings ever since. 

Princess Margaret's wedding to Anthony Armstrong-Jones

Princess Margaret's wedding to Anthony Armstrong-Jones

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Beautiful, outspoken and not shy of living the high life, Princess Margaret was known for doing things her own way - often in defiance of royal convention.

This was no different on her wedding day. In 1960, Margaret married society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, making her the first daughter of a King to marry a commoner - someone without a hereditary title - in hundreds of years. 

She also bucked tradition with her choice of accessory, buying her own tiara for the occasion and not borrowing one from the royal vaults. Margaret purchased the Poltimore Tiara, and the look has become one of the most memorable photographs of a royal bride in history. 

Princess Anne's wedding to Mark Phillips

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips' wedding portrait

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Princess Anne's first marriage was celebrated with a huge royal spectacle, and led to a stunning photo of the royal party. 

Her first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips lasted from the wedding day, 14 November 1973 (which just so happened to be Charles' 25th birthday) until 1992. 

For the big day, which was attended by over 1500 guests, the Princess Royal wore an embroidered Tudor-style wedding dress, with a high collar and medieval-influenced sleeves designed by Maureen Baker. 

As seen in the glamorous wedding portrait, Anne kept her hair up and secured it with the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara - the same one her mother wore when she married Prince Philip.

Prince William and Kate Middleton make their way through the crowds

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day

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After they legally wed in Westminster Abbey, Prince William and Kate Middleton made their way through the Mall towards their final destination, Buckingham Palace. 

This traverse through London gave fans some of the most iconic photos of the royal bride and groom, offering up-close details of Kate's make-up and jewellery. 

The photos of them greeting the thousands of well-wishers allow a greater look at the Cartier Halo tiara, made up of 739 brilliant cut diamonds and 149 baguette diamonds.

Harry and Meghan travel in style

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their evening reception

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did a quick change from their wedding attire and hopped in an enviably cool car to head to their evening reception. 

Meghan, changing to a stunning Stella McCartney halterneck sheath gown, had her new husband open the door of a Vintage 1968 Jaguar E-Type so they could arrive in style. 

In a classic nod to both of their sensibilities, the car had undergone a slight makeover, being converted to run entirely on the more eco-friendly electric power. 

Princess Charlotte steals the show with a sneeze

Princess Charlotte sneezes after the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Image credit: Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Charlotte was the star of the show during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018, delighting royal fans as she posed for photographs before and after the ceremony. The cutest moment came when she sneezed after the ceremony, while standing outside St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle with her mother, the now Princess of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth makes her way to Westminster Abbey

An aerial shot of Princess Elizabeth making her way to her wedding to Prince Philip

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While many photos of royal weddings focus on the bride and groom, this aerial shot of Princess Elizabeth (who wouldn't be queen for five years after her wedding) making her way to her husband-to-be truly captures the scale of a royal display. 

The awe-inspiring photo captures the Princess heading along the Mall to Westminster Abbey in the Irish Coach with a sovereign's escort of the Household Cavalry.

The sheer number of people who had come out to see the bride in the cold November weather says it all. A truly historic moment.

King Charles and Camilla finally say 'I Do'

Prince Charles and Camilla on their wedding day, with their children Princes William and Harry, Laura Lopes and Tom Parker-Bowles

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King Charles and Queen Camilla were married in a relatively low-key civil ceremony at the Windsor Guildhall, followed by a marriage blessing at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2005. 

Camilla wore a cream silk chiffon dress hemmed with vertical rows of Swiss-made appliqued woven disks and a matching oyster silk basket weave coat. 

The wedding took place some 35 years after they first met in the 1970s. For a couple who had truly weathered a storm to get there, the happy photo of them with their respective children makes for an unforgettable royal wedding photo, packed full of significance and meaning. It's possibly the most romantic Charles and Camilla moment we've ever witnessed. 

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie's wedding

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie

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The youngest child of the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Prince Edward eschewed a grandiose wedding when he wed Sophie Rhys-Jones, the now Duchess of Edinburgh, in 1999. 

This iconic photo of the day captures everything about the understatedly elegant Sophie. The dress, designed by Samantha Shaw,  was made of hand-dyed silk organza and hand-dyed silk crepe. 325,000 cut-glass and pearl beads were sewn across it. 

The pearls matched an unusual black-and-white pearl necklace and matching earrings, designed for his bride by the Prince himself and made by royal jewellers Asprey and Garrard.

Princess Eugenie's significant choice of dress

Princess Eugenie in her wedding dress

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When she tied the knot with Jack Brooksbank in 2018, Eugenie looked exquisite in a £200,000 gown from British designer Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos. 

While the dress was as glamorous and regal as one would expect from a Princess, the Queen's granddaughter chose one feature of the dress for a surprising and inspiring reason. 

Eugenie had major surgery on her back to treat a curvature of the spine at the age of 12. Sixteen years later, she chose to honour those who helped her and hoped to help others with scoliosis by featuring a low-back design that showed off her scar. 

Eugenie told ITV's This Morning ahead of the wedding, "I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you'll see on Friday [at the wedding], but it's a lovely way to honour the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this.

"I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars and I think it's really special to stand up for that."

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew have some fun

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's wedding

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Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was always celebrated for her playful sense of humour. 

In one of the most memorable photos from her 1986 wedding to Prince Andrew,  Sarah didn't let the daunting concept of being on the Buckingham Palace balcony in front of thousands stop her from having a bit of fun.

Veering dangerously close to pantomime, Sarah and Andrew teased the crowd to cheer louder and louder as they anticipated the iconic kiss. 

The Queen supports Charles and Camilla's ceremony

Charles and Camilla's marriage service

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The late Queen famously did not attend Charles' secular marriage ceremony to Camilla, largely thought to be in accordance with her strict Christian values as the leader of the Church of England.

However, she did throw the married couple a lavish reception at Windsor Castle, which included a special blessing. 

The photo of Her Majesty in attendance is important as it dispels an oft-cited theory that she didn't approve of Charles and Camilla's union.

Grace Kelly's real-life fairy tale

Grace Kelly on her wedding to Prince Rainier

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A royal wedding from a different locale now, but easily one of the most iconic and memorable weddings of all time. 

Actress Grace Kelly's love story took her from Hollywood to Monaco when she married Rainier III in a stunning ceremony. These intimate photos from inside the legendary ceremony capture intricate details of Grace's dress, often regarded as one of the most elegant and best-remembered bridal gowns of all time. 

It was designed by Helen Rose from the MGM Hollywood studio and used ivory faille, 100 yards of silk net, thousands of hand-sewn pearls and a three-foot long train.

William and Kate's iconic wedding car

Prince William and Kate Middleton

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The name's William. Prince William. 

The now Prince of Wales must have surely felt like James Bond after his 2011 wedding. Not only had he 'got the girl' - the glamorous Kate Middleton - he drove off in Bond's signature car, an Aston Martin. 

Both William and Kate look like they're having the time of their lives as they race off in the luxury vehicle. 

Zara and Mike Tindall's enchanting wedding

Mike and Zara Tindall on their wedding day

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Mike and Zara Tindall tied the knot on 30 July, 2011 at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, just three months after Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. 

Perhaps because of the huge media attention around her cousin's wedding, Zara's wedding was less of a grand affair, but it still included plenty of special touches. 

Zara opted for an ivory silk dress by designer Stewart Parvin, one of her grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s favourite couturiers, paired with Jimmy Choo heels and a silk tulle veil.

For a touch of tradition, she added Princess Andrew's Meander Tiara which belonged to her mother, Princess Anne. The tiara included a brilliant-cut diamond surrounded by a glittering wreath and originates in Greece, the home of her grandfather, Prince Philip. 

The Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes Lyon - the Queen's parents

The wedding portrait of King George Vi and the Queen Mother

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Prince Albert married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon of Scotland in 1923 at Westminster Abbey in London. They might not be as instantly recognisable names - better known to audiences today as King George VI and the Queen Mother. 

Elizabeth only agreed to marry King George (then going as Albert) after his third proposal attempt.

Luckily, she did eventually say yes. The pair would go on to be parents to Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch is British history.

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

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In 2018, Princess Eugenie had one of the most fabulous 'something borrowed' ever - a stunning diamond and emerald tiara lent from the royal archives. 

Immortalised in these stunning photos, Eugenie wore the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara.  

Sometimes referred to as the Boucheron Tiara, the stunning diadem was made by luxury jewellers Boucheron for Dame Margaret Helen Greville in 1919 in the fashionable Kokoshnik style popularised by the Russians.

It features brilliant and rose cut diamonds pavé set in platinum, with six emeralds on either side. Eugenie's chignon haircut helped spotlight the tiara and the matching emerald earrings - a gift from her husband for the nuptials. 

Pippa Middleton

Pippa Middleton in her wedding dress

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While not technically a royal herself, as sister to the future queen and in line to inherit her own Scottish title, Pippa Middleton's stunning wedding photo most definitely belongs on the list. Especially with that iconic gown. 

Designed by Giles Deacon, Pippa's gown as she walked down the aisle to James Matthews was made entirely of lace. 

The material had been hand-assembled to create a seamless sheath, and it was embroidered with pearls. For a modern touch, there was a tight-fitted waist which bloomed out into a tulle-filled train.

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden

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On June 19, 2010, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland were wed in a stunning Stockholm ceremony. 

It was Sweden's first royal wedding since 1976. 

The bride wore a dress created by designer Pär Engsheden. It was made from pearl-white, double-sided duchess silk satin and included a train that was almost five metres long. 

She wore the iconic Cameo Tiara for a regal finishing touch - the tiara featuring gold, pearl, and antique cameo dates all the way back to Napoleon I. 

Queen Letizia marries King Felipe

Two photos of Queen Letizia and King Felipe's wedding

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More than 25 million people watched the royal wedding of Spain's Felipe to the now Queen Letizia in 2004.

More than 1000 guests attended the wedding, with 36 royal houses and heads of state present, including King Charles, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

Letizia wore a wedding dress designed by Manuel Pertegaz which was woven with Valencia silk and embroidered with silver and gold threads.

Harry and Meghan's wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding

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On May 19, 2018, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

A real star-studded affair - with guests including Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney - it was always destined to be an iconic wedding, even by royal wedding standards. 

The wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was watched by an estimated 1.9 billion people, making it one of the most-watched events in history.

Inside Grace Kelly's lavish reception

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier

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Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier’s wedding was always going to be spectacular - Hollywood royalty marrying into a European dynasty. 

If the Oscar winner looking timeless in her trend-setting, legendary dress wasn't already one of the most iconic royal wedding photos ever taken, pictures taking us inside the lavish lunch reception really takes the cake - pun intended. 

The many, many tiered cake was topped with a musical box which hid a cage containing two turtle doves - with the birds dramatically released when Prince Rainier cut through the icing.

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden

Prince Carl Phillip and Princess Sofia of Sweden

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The wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist took place on 13 June 2015 in Stockholm.

The son of the Swedish king and a former reality star might have sounded like an unlikely pairing, but the royal bride proved her credentials when she stunned in a white dress by designer Ida Sjöstedt, featuring a train embellished with couture lace, and sporting a diamond and emerald tiara. 

They danced the night away in the Royal Chapel of Stockholm in memorable photos which evoke fairy tale romance and enchanting escapism.

Sophie and Edward's laid-back detail

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie's wedding

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On a warm summer day in June 1999, Prince Edward married the now Duchess Sophie. But as these memorable photos from the event prove, there was something subtle but undeniably unusual about the nuptials. 

The pair reportedly insisted on a more relaxed dress code, asking their guests to don evening wear and not wear hats, as is usually expected at a royal wedding.

King Charles walking Meghan down the aisle

King Charles and Meghan Markle

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's 2018 royal wedding was full of poignant moments forever preserved in iconic photos, but one of the standout memories was seeing the then Prince Charles buck with convention and walk his daughter-in-law down the aisle. 

Meghan addressed how the touching moment came about during the Harry & Meghan Netflix docuseries. 

"Harry's dad is very charming," Meghan explained in the episodes. "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."

Queen Elizabeth attending Princess Margaret's wedding

Princess Margaret walking down the aisle

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Princess Margaret's iconic first wedding was the first royal wedding ever to be televised, and fans were also given the chance to see photos from inside their nuptials. 

In this great snap, not only is the moment Margaret walks down the aisle immortalised forever, but people get a closer look at the guest outfits, including what the Queen wore.

Queen Elizabeth's ensemble for her sister's wedding was recreated for Netflix's The Crown. The original was designed by Norman Hartnell, who also designed Princess Margaret’s wedding dress.

Interestingly, this outfit and occasion marked a turning point for royal protocol, as this was the last occasion where royal women were required to wear full-length day dresses for a family wedding. 

Meghan Markle's ethereal dress

Meghan Markle's wedding dress

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Meghan Markle's walk down the aisle included one of the best candid photos of a royal bride ever.

St George's Chapel and the May sunshine created a moment where the light caught Meghan’s bespoke wedding dress and veil from British designer Clare Waight Keller, artist director at Givenchy, and made the Duchess of Sussex look practically angelic.

Per Vanity Fair, the design of the dress has a nod to Meghan's Hollywood roots, citing Audrey Hepburn's gown - from Hubert de Givenchy himself - worn in Funny Face as inspiration. Needless to say, this tops the list of Meghan Markle's most stylish moments.

The Queen and Prince Philip's wedding portrait

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's wedding party

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The royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip was a true historical moment, and there are plenty of photos to choose from that capture the monumental day.

Official portraits reveal more about the bridal party, including Elizabeth's eight bridesmaids, which included Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, Pamela Mountbatten, Margaret Elphinstone and Diana Bowes-Lyon.

Some 2,000 guests were invited to the ceremony and it was broadcast by BBC Radio to 200 million people around the world.

Botticelli's famous painting Primaverawhich symbolises the coming of spring, was reportedly tinspiration for Norman Hartnell's gown, which was made from duchesse satin and included a 15-foot silk tulle train. 

The first look at Diana's secret wedding dress

Princess Diana's wedding dress

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There is perhaps no more iconic photo from Princess Diana's 1981 wedding than the first full glimpse of her extravagant, unforgettable dress.

Designed by husband-and-wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the ivory taffeta gown was embroidered with sequins, frilled lace, and 10,000 pearls. The dress was considered one of the most closely guarded secrets in fashion history, so the media had no idea what it would look like, making the reveal all the more grand. 

Scrutinise photos of Diana's dress on the day and you might be surprised to see the usually impeccable Princess actually had lots of wrinkles in the gown. This was reportedly because the excessive amount of fabric made it difficult for her to fit in the state coach.

Being forced to fold the fabric multiple times over to fit Diana into the carriage was what caused the wrinkles on her dress, Elizabeth Emanuel revealed, per the Daily Mail.

William and Kate's much-anticipated kiss

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding kiss

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As surprising as it may seem, there hadn't been a major royal wedding including a Buckingham Palace appearance since Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986. 

So, in 2011, when the future king married Kate Middleton, it was always going to be huge and the kiss between newlyweds - a tradition started by William's parents - was always going to make for an unforgettable photo. 

And they did not disappoint. From looking completely in love to the amusing unimpressed expression of one of their flower girls, the photos have become landmark moments of the royals in the 21st century.

Years later, we're still revisiting the moment to unearth new treasures, including what William cheekily whispered to his bride on the balcony. He reportedly asked, "Shall we do one more?" and before Kate responded, the smitten groom planted another smooch on his princess bride.

Princess Diana's legendary train

Princess Diana's wedding dress

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One of the most impressive parts of Princess Diana's gown was the jaw-dropping 25-foot train. 

The image of Diana's elongated silk train is one of the most memorable photos from any royal wedding in history. But even more amazing than the 25-foot train was the fact the veil was even longer!

Diana's 153-yard tulle veil connected to her tiara. 

Hidden beneath these voluminous touches was another magical princess touch - Diana wore a pair of silk shoes covered in 542 sequins and 132 pearls, according to the Daily Mail

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.