The Most Inappropriate Outfits Worn To Royal Weddings

The royal wedding experience is circumscribed by rules that have a bearing on everything, from posture to table manners. Even the clothes people wear are subject to certain regulations. In fact, dressing protocol is one of the foremost features of royal etiquette. While a lot of these rules are not set in stone, they are traditionally accepted codes that members of the British monarchy — and those around them — are expected to follow at major royal events. As etiquette expert Myka Meier further elaborated to Town & Country magazine, "There will be additional guidance for the attendees. Though we will not see it, there will often be an internal document circulated to give them more information about the dress code." Yes, a royal wedding really comes with a strict dress code for guests.

Even so, there have been more than a few instances in the past where both royals and commoners alike have flouted this fabled propriety. Given the scale of royal weddings and their guest lists, one can always expect to see at least one renegade member at the celebration (if not more) breaking rules with their outfit. More often than not, it turns out to be a woman, considering that royal dressing rules bind women more tightly than they do men. It's all in the details; from hat sizes to dress cuts and color palettes, everything provides vast scope to bend the rules at these events. Here are some of the most inappropriate outfits worn to royal weddings. 

Cara Delevingne broke protocol with her tuxedo

Breaking royal protocol is one thing; completely shattering it is another. Cara Delevingne audaciously indulged in the latter at her friend Princess Eugenie's wedding in 2018, showing up in a tuxedo. The actor looked right through the royal wedding code that prescribes day dresses for women in attendance, opting instead for an ensemble that the palace would expect a male guest to wear. 

It was an in-your-face kind of defiance that one would not typically associate with a formal royal occasion but Delevingne was apparently given a free hand by none other than the most important person of the day — the bride. "Eugenie has been a friend of mine since I was a kid and I've always wanted to wear tails," Delevingne told Grazia magazine in an interview (via Page Six). "I texted her, as I wasn't sure about it and she was like: 'Of course, I expected nothing else from you!'" She further added that her choice of wardrobe hardly stemmed from an intention of daring but was what she felt comfortable in. 

Delevingne took the badassery of her sharp Armani suit up a notch by accessorizing the look with a Chanel top hat and, believe it or not, a toothpick dangling from her lips. It goes without saying that the payoff was terrific. Without question, Delevingne was one of the best dressed at Princess Eugenie's wedding

Princess Beatrice's squiggly hat remains unforgettable

Of all the eccentric hats in royal history, the curiosity Princess Beatrice wore in 2011 sticks out as the most remarkable. The pale pink fascinator — with its extravagant squiggles and bow design — was momentous not just for setting new standards of royal zaniness but also for putting Beatrice on the fashion map as one of the royal family's boldest members. Forged by the family favorite milliner Philip Treacy, the topper was the object of widespread ridicule from the moment the young princess arrived at Westminster Abbey for the wedding of her cousin Prince William, spawning blogs, memes, press articles, and even an infamous, now-defunct Facebook page. 

Though her sister Princess Eugenie appeared no less striking in her feathered fascinator, Beatrice's pretzel hat — as the accessory came to be known — provoked a far more severe public reaction. "There was a moment where I thought I would find myself with my head on a spike outside the Tower of London," Treacy said on BBC's "Desert Island Discs." The response thankfully did not turn all that extreme and, in fact, took a more affirmative turn. Rising gracefully above the controversy, Beatrice raised over $130,000 by putting her iconic hat up for auction to benefit UNICEF and Children in Crisis, according to eBay. Expressing her amazement at the attention her hat got, Beatrice said in the listing, "I hope whoever wins the auction has as much fun with the hat as I have."

Chloe Madeley's outfit ended up showing a little too much skin

Considering the British monarchy's conservative dressing traditions, it should be a no-brainer that too much skin show is off-limits at royal gatherings — especially those as momentous as weddings. In 2018, Chloe Madeley defied that cardinal rule and how. The fitness trainer showed up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials in a strappy pink dress that exposed more skin than royal weddings typically allow. The outfit's daring top half put Madeley's arms, shoulders, and cleavage on such bold display that it rendered the other compliant details of her dress — including the length and color — insignificant. Needless to say, Madeley was one of the most talked about royal wedding guests that year.

It wasn't rebellion that prompted this wardrobe gaffe from Madeley. As she explained on "Lorraine," she had a jacket at hand with regard to the church wedding but lost it somewhere along the way to the venue. "It was so hot and I was on coach to the chapel and I thought 'I am overheating, I need to take this jacket off,'" she said. Before entering the chapel, Madeley realized that neither she nor her husband James Haskell had the jacket, leaving her to attend the wedding without it. Social media users schooled Madeley on religious and royal propriety, with the press having a field day of its own. "I thought I did not need a religious war, but lesson learnt," Madeley said.

Did Sabrina Elba wear too much Gucci?

Sabrina Dhowre Elba made sure there was no room for doubt when it came to the brand of outfit she wore to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018. The model, accompanied by her then-fiancé Idris Elba, arrived at Windsor Castle looking like a vision straight out of a Gucci advertisement. From her white heels to her navy blue cardigan, nearly every part of her attire was trimmed with the luxury fashion house's signature colors. The more-than-conspicuous brand detailing made it hard to focus on or appreciate the rest of Dhowre Elba's outfit, which didn't sit well with a lot of royal watchers. Yet others were of the opinion that the cardigan look was too casual for such a formal, high-profile event. 

Though many netizens were unimpressed with the model's ensemble, her famous partner — whom she married later that year — stood solid as a rock beside her. Elba took to social media in defense of his significant other, who he said looked beautiful at the royal wedding, while simultaneously brushing off the haters (per Atlanta Black Star). Not least because of her outfit, and also the fact that she attended the royal wedding beside the "Luther" actor, the day marked a noteworthy moment for Dhowre Elba. "Every single person I know just saw me walk into this wedding on TV — and I don't even know how to explain that feeling," she told The Sunday Times, gushing over the widespread renown the royal wedding brought her.

People thought Victoria Beckham's fit was too somber

Who would ever dare question Victoria Beckham's style? The former Spice Girl has, for years, wielded authority in the world of fashion as a designer and one half of the glamorous pair she makes with her dreamboat husband David Beckham. Her couture sensibilities are regarded highly, even though they may sometimes be hard to comprehend. For Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding in 2018, the singer wore a midi navy blue dress that failed to win unanimous praise from viewers, many of whom felt it was too somber for the occasion. As Cambridgeshire Live reported, social media was filled with opinions about Beckham's seemingly funereal appearance, intensified by her famously unsmiling face. 

A Beckham original, the dress had multiple slit details, including a dangerously low one down the front. But, as she told Vogue Paris, it was appropriately suited for the summer heat and the strict code at royal weddings (via Instagram). "A nice slash down the front to get some skin out, makes it feel feminine and makes it feel quite sexy, but still appropriate." While many observers had their reservations, the dress was such a hit among fans of Beckham that it went up for sale under her fashion label earlier than planned. The fashionista also had a simple explanation for questions around why she chose the same color she had worn to Prince William's wedding in 2011. "I love a bit of navy," she told the Evening Standard

Zara Tindall wore a daringly short skirt

In the royal family's pool of traditionally conservative dressers, Zara Tindall, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, has always stood out as a fashion maverick. It only reinforces her long-held reputation as a royal rebel, a legacy she takes on after her mother Princess Anne. The outfit she chose to wear for the wedding of royal family friend Santa Palmer-Tomkinson and historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore back in 1998 was a memorable exhibit. 17 at the time, Tindall showed up to the synagogue in London where the ceremony was taking place in a pinstriped mini skirt and blazer combo. A matching hat and heels completed the ensemble, which was black from head to toe. Though not as startling as her notorious tongue piercing, the dress was a rule-bending anomaly for more than one reason.   

One of the first noticeable features of Tindall's getup was the color of her outfit. One wouldn't typically expect a royal who is not in mourning to wear black or related shades — and most certainly not to a wedding. In open defiance of this unwritten rule, Tindall went all out with a darkly colored outfit, accessorizing it with only minimal jewelry. Also hard to miss was the hem of the then-teenager's skirt that ended far above the prescribed knee-grazing length that royals usually follow. In retrospect, the pinstriped ensemble was rather on-brand for Tindall, whose wedding fashion over the years has been a catalogue of unorthodox royal looks — from graphic shirt dresses to strapless gowns. 

The queen felt Meghan Markle's wedding dress was not proper

Meghan Markle defied convention at her wedding in more ways than one, starting with her gown. A Givenchy number, the exquisite creation by designer Clare Waight Keller featured an open neckline, an over 16-foot-long veil, and a Hollywood-inspired silhouette. "She wanted to bring some simplicity and just timeless elegance. Not overly feminine, but not really minimal either," Waight Keller told Vanity Fair, emphasizing Meghan's role in the creation of the dress. The lack of lace or embellishments usually found on royal wedding gowns also gave Meghan's dress an unorthodox character — as did her partly visible shoulders and forearms, which challenged royal dress codes that call for conservative necklines and sleeves. One of the most striking features of the dress, however, was its traditional white color — something Queen Elizabeth II apparently didn't entirely favor. 

In her book "My Mother and I," renowned royal expert Ingrid Seward claimed that the late monarch had certain concerns about Meghan's wedding wardrobe (via The Independent). "In the monarch's view, it was not appropriate for a divorcee getting remarried in church to look quite so flamboyantly virginal," Seward wrote, citing the queen's cousin. Since Queen Victoria started it in the 19th century, the tradition of the white bridal gown has held strong associations with purity. While there is no royal decree urging divorcee brides to avoid the color, some like Camilla, Queen Consort, opted for muted beige tones while getting married a second time.