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Royal Wedding Dresses: Princess Claire of Belgium

Many a bride is expected to look like a princess on her wedding day but when you're actually marrying a prince and getting the whole HRH as a result, the pressure to be picture perfect is huge. Princess Claire of Belgium rose to the challenge and then some when she became a royal bride on April 12th 2003. Her royal wedding dress is a 21st century classic - let's celebrate it all over again on her wedding anniversary.

Princess Claire's wedding dress is rather traditional while being rather modern all at the same time. Claire Louise Coombs was marrying Prince Laurent, the youngest child of the then King and Queen of the Belgians, Albert II and Paola, so this was a pretty grand affair without the pressure of the whole wedding of a future monarch thing tagged on to it. The gown was designed by Edouard Vermeulen of Natan, that go to designer for Benelux royals, but it's a very fresh take on the regal marriage theme. Of course it's white, of course there's lace and satin but they've all been mixed up into a rather special look.

The dress itself is a simple design in palest cream with the satin worked into an off the shoulder bodice that gives way to a slightly flared full length skirt. But of course, no royal bride is walking in strapless and the top of the dress has a Chantilly lace cover providing full length sleeves and a hint of material at the top which leaves the shoulders bare while doing the whole modest bride thing to perfection. This semi shoulderless look was a popular one for royal brides around this time (think Crown Princess Victoria in 2010 and Princess Madeleine in 2013) and it adds an air of modernity which really helps set the dresses apart.

All royal brides need a train - there is no point walking down the aisle of a cathedral towards a prince and his royal dynasty in a cocktail style dress. You'll get lost amongst the archbishops. Claire managed what many a royal bride has attempted and failed - a train that segways effortlessly from the dress itself. Yep, there was no 20 metres of satin stuck to a waistband for Claire. Her simple skirt fanned out into a beautiful train, helped by a very clever pleat which allows the fabric to move with the bride.

The dress appears to have been designed, to some extent, around the lace veil we knew Claire would wear. This is an heirloom piece, passed down through the family of Queen Paola of Belgium, and worn by other royal brides too. It's very pretty but all that lace stuck to a tiara can be overpowering. But the simple nod to the lace in the top covering of the gown and the hint of bare shoulders breaks everything up to perfection.

Princess Claire hasn't always had the easiest of rides as a royal - her husband has been very ill at times during their marriage. But the family (Claire and Laurent have three children) appears to be happy and relaxed now. And this royal bride is safe in the knowledge that every time her anniversary comes around, we'll all be wowed once again by the wonder that is the royal wedding dress of Princess Claire of Belgium.


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