Meghan Markle's wedding dress: Britain's best-kept secret

Meghan Markle's wedding dress: Britain's best-kept secret
PHOTO: AFP

Will it be white? Satin or lace? British or foreign made? The tightly-guarded secret of Meghan Markle's wedding dress will finally be revealed when she walks down the aisle to marry Prince Harry on Saturday.

Anticipation has reached levels not seen since the 2011 wedding of Harry's brother Prince William and Catherine Middleton, who in the end wore a white and ivory satin gown designed by Sarah Burton from the Alexander McQueen fashion house, a 100 per cent British creation.

US actress Meghan may also opt for a dress from her adopted country to curry favour with the public and to boost Britain's valuable fashion industry.

There is also some speculation, although far less, about what ex-army man Harry will wear on his big day -- a civilian suit or a full dress uniform?

Whimsical, traditional, or both?

London has been buzzing for weeks with rumours about who will design Markle's dress, with Burberry, Ralph & Russo, who had made Markle's engagement dress, Stella McCartney, Erdem, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi and Roland Mouret all being mentioned.

Mouret told AFP in February that he wouldn't reveal if he was the chosen man, saying: "She's a friend and the great gift I can give my friends is to keep their lives private."

Fashionista Markle told Glamour magazine in 2016 that her ideal outfit would be "very pared down and relaxed."

"I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic," she said.

But by marrying into the royal family, Meghan is also joining an institution whose traditions will impose their own restrictions.

"From Honiton lace to Orange Blossom, Royal Wedding Dresses over the years have encompassed tradition, whilst still embracing changing fashions," the family's official website said of its approach to the gown.

British Fashion Council chief Caroline Rush believes Markle will strike the right balance.

"Throughout the past couple of months, Meghan Markle has proved to be very considered in her choice of what she wears," she said.

"She understands the subtle power fashion has in terms of challenging conventions, connecting to a community but also putting local companies in the spotlight."

Meghan's previous marriage to film producer Trevor Engelson also throws up a complication, raising the question of whether she will be able to wear white.

"The etiquette on white dresses for second marriages is now very fluid," wedding dress designer Raishma told the Daily Express.

"However, she is marrying a member of the Royal family, so she may opt for ivory or an off-white shade which actually would be perfect on her skin tone."

Britain's Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle

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    Britain's Prince Harry is to marry his US actress girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year it was announced Monday, with the Queen leading a chorus of approval and best wishes for the couple who got engaged in secret earlier this month.

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    "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018," Clarence House, Prince Charles's office, said a statement.

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    The couple's engagement was sealed in London and the prince then informed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, close members of the royal family and had also sought the blessing of Markle's parents.

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    Britain's Prince Harry and his soon-to-be wife, American actress Meghan Markle.

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    The couple will live at Nottingham Cottage in London's Kensington Palace, where his brother William and his pregnant wife Kate live with their two children.

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    Harry's 36-year-old bride-to-be is best known for her role as a lawyer in the hit television show "Suits".

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    Reports that Markle, who is expected to become a duchess, was moving her two dogs -- Guy and Bogart -- to London further fuelled rumours of the first royal wedding since William and Kate in 2011.

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    The actress's parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland said in a statement they were "incredibly happy" and wished the couple "a lifetime of happiness."

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    "Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person," they said. "To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents."

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    Prince Harry revealed Monday that he proposed to US actress Meghan Markle over roast chicken, and said she would be "unbelievably good" at her new royal role despite its pressures.

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    The couple said they were enjoying "a cosy night" at home in his cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace earlier this month - "trying to roast a chicken" - when he got down on one knee.

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    "She didn't even let me finish, she said, 'can I say yes? can I say yes?' and then there were hugs," Harry said in the couple's first interview since the announcement of their engagement earlier Monday.

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    They revealed they knew little about each other when they were set up on a "blind date" by a mutual friend.

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    Harry said he had never heard of Markle, while the actress added she was largely ignorant about the British royal family and just asked of their friend, "is he nice?" The date went so well they immediately met up again before going camping together for five days in Botswana just a few weeks later.

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    "Then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other," Prince Harry said.

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    They spent the first few months after that staying in, cooking dinner and watching television to avoid any public attention.

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    Bookmakers have already started taking wedding related bets, with Westminster Abbey a firm favourite to host the event and fashion label Alexander McQueen favourite to design the dress.

International exposure

One thing for certain is that the designer will receive a worldwide boost from the exposure that only a royal wedding can provide.

The ceremony will be beamed into homes across the globe, with the audience expected to be at least tens of millions.

Moments after it is first unveiled, the dress will be analysed from every possible angle by websites who provide links for those looking to recreate the wardrobes of the famous.

But it is not only Meghan's choices that will affect the fashion world.

"The royals have been influencers long before the term even existed," explained Sam Coates, a PR expert based in London.

"No matter what your thoughts on the royal family, they can certainly propel a brand to fame."

Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge have both chosen to wear high-street brands in the past, heralding a shift in the industry.

"These accessibly priced pieces sell out in seconds," he said. "My view is that this is a great opportunity, for both emerging and established brands to gain exposure on an international level."

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