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In regal and triumphant fanfare, Sweden's next Queen, Crown Princess Victoria tied the knot on June 19 in the largest royal wedding since Charles and Diana. In Stockholm Cathedral, 1,200 royal guests and dignitaries watched the nuptials, along with 500,000 people who lined the streets, and an estimated 500 million TV viewers from around the world. Yet the princess only had eyes for her groom, Daniel Westling - now Prince Daniel, as she calmly spoke her vows, tenderly wiped a tear from his eyes after exchanging rings, and at one point, even winked at him during the service.
The radiant and beaming 32-year old bride walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, the king, in a cream-colored duchess satin gown with short sleeves and an off-the -shoulder, rounded neckline. Designed by Pär Engsheden, the dress has a V-shaped back and a 16.5 foot train fastened from the waist. Topping off the look, as everyone predicted, was the Cameo tiara which the bride's mother, Queen Silvia, also wore to her own wedding on the same day in 1976. Made of gold, pearls and cameos, the tiara's center cameo depicts Cupid and Psyche from Greek mythology. Cameo drop earrings and a cameo and pearl bracelet completed the look.
In Sweden's gender equalitarian society, weddings usually feature the bride and groom walking to the altar together. However, it was Victoria's wish to have her father escorting her, and it is meant as a symbolic gesture of the king walking the heir of the throne down the aisle.
The bridesmaids, two of whom are Victoria's royal god-daughters, wore pearl-white, silk organza dresses with roll collars and ballet slippers. Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands and Princess Ingrid-Alexandra of Norway - both six years old, and future queens themselves - held hands as they walked down the procession. The page boys, which included four-year old Prince Christian of Denmark, wore sailor suits - a Bernadotte royal family tradition.
The bride's sister, Princess Madeleine, who had broken off her engagement earlier this year after cheating allegations about her fiancé surfaced, showed that looking great really is the best revenge. For the wedding, she wore a blue chiffon dress with a crystal-embroidered bodice, and a skirt with a cascade of ruffles. She also wore, for the first time, the diamond Connaught tiara which features five loops of forget-me-not flowers and leaves - each with a diamond hanging pendant.
Queen Silvia of Sweden looked regal in a pink tulle gown with pearl and gemstone embroidery, and as I predicted, the Braganca tiara - the grandest in the Swedish royal family's collection of tiaras, and one which once belonged to Empress Amalie of Brazil. The queen also wore a stunning pink topaz and diamonds set of necklace, brooch and earrings. The only tiara at the wedding that rivaled the Braganca in size was the one sported by Grand Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. Her tiara was so big that it looked like a beauty queen's crown.
The other two Scandinavian queens opted for more vivid colored gowns. Sonja of Norway wore a coral-colored chiffon dress with a matching pleated cape, along with the Empress Josephine emerald and diamond tiara, while Margarethe of Denmark was in a bright lime-green gown with her favorite pearl and diamond tiara.
Romantic soft pinks and nude shades were popular at the wedding with Princess Letizia of Spain in an exquisite blush-colored gown with flower appliqué details that complemented her diamond floral tiara, and sporting a new hairdo with braids wrapped along her hairline. Her mother-in-law, Queen Sofia of Spain, also wore a pale pink dress which she paired with a diamond and pearl shell tiara. Princess Elena of Spain went for a bolder fuschia gown with a full skirt topped with a dramatic, beaded bolero jacket.
One of the most anticipated arrivals for royal fashion watchers was Queen Rania of Jordan. However, she made her appearance in an odd, dark-blue gown with mismatched sleeves, and a messy updo set off by the least impressive looking tiara at the wedding.
Accompanying her husband, Britain's Prince Edward, Sophie Wessex was in a light grey silk beaded gown, and wore her wedding tiara - a fitting choice since this was her 11th wedding anniversary. She jokingly remarked to me that it was very convenient Victoria had chosen the same wedding date.
Crown Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, who has an adventurous fashion style, appeared in an oyster-colored lace gown with a mermaid hem, and a simple bandeau tiara with diamonds the size of marbles. Her sister-in-law, Princess Laurentien, was a fashion miss in a busy black and white print gown wrapped at the waist with a large, Christmas-like red bow. However, the worst-dressed at the wedding was easily Dutch Princess Mabel, who wore black trousers and what appeared to be a white tulle skirt half tucked into the waistband of her pants. Quelle horreur!
Denmark's Crown Princess Mary made a wiser choice in a sea-foam green pleated gown, and not surprisingly, chose to wear the diamond and ruby parure which once belonged to Queen Ingrid of Denmark, a former Swedish princess. Crown Princess Mathilde of Belgium went with a fetching dusty rose, Grecian-inspired one-shoulder number, and a beautiful diamond laurel-leaf tiara.
Mette-Marit of Norway must have a tiered ruffle dress in every color because she showed up in another one - this time in pale blue. Her sister-in-law, Princess Martha-Louise, usually known for her zany and off-beat fashion sense, looked fabulous this time in a hot pink gown accessorized by an amethyst tiara and necklace.
Having been in Stockholm in the midst of all the festivities, I can attest that a royal wedding is a far more glamorous extravaganza than anything else in the world - and that includes the Oscars. The days leading up to the wedding were a fashion tour-de-force as the royal ladies turned out in one spectacular gown after another.
A design detail favored by the royal fashionistas was tiered ruffles, which appeared in the gown of Maxima of the Netherlands, who wore one with a floral print on the eve of the wedding. Having met and spoken with her that evening, I can tell you that the dress and the crown princess herself looked even more stunning in person than in photos. On the same night, Mette-Marit of Norway also wore a tiered ruffled evening dress (no surprise there), but in cotton-candy pink, and highlighted with a beaded belt.
At the gala concert on June 18, Mathilde of Belgium's gown in Schiaparelli pink had tiered layers from bodice to hem. Letizia of Spain, always gorgeous in red, debuted a strapless red dress with a slit skirt and her signature platform heels. Letizia's affinity for show-stopping red gowns started with the va-va-voom number she wore to Frederick and Mary of Denmark's wedding in 2004, a week before her own nuptials.
At a private dinner hosted by the King and Queen of Sweden at Drottningholm Palace on June 17, the one-shoulder style was embraced by many of the royal ladies. Mary of Denmark wore one in white, while both the bride-to-be Victoria, and Mette-Marit of Norway were in dove-grey. However, the most dazzling one-shouldered look was delivered at the pre-wedding gala concert by Victoria, in the form of an intricately detailed Elie Saab number with a sweeping train. She set off her winning look with a diamond arrow pin in her elegant chignon reminiscent of Cupid's arrow.
The royal couple's journey of love had been long and not always easy, with the crown princess fighting initial resistance from her family regarding her choice of beau. However, Victoria is clearly a determined young woman who knows her own mind, and she is just as sure-footed when it comes to the fashion stakes. Going by her choices in the few days of the wedding festivities, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has emerged as the new royal "Queen of Style."