About three months ago, amid the bunting and the handheld Union Jacks, viewers tuned in to the UK royal wedding heard nothing but gushing enthusiasm from television pundits at the first sight of Catherine Middleton’s discount mermaid wedding dress.
The Queen’s voice was heard to rise in pitch as she saw the garment at Buckingham Palace, where it will be on display until October 23. “Horrible,” she said shrilly to the Duchess of Cambridge in their first public appearance together since the wedding. “Horrid.”
Observers wondered whether the Queen had become a fashion judge — but further comments suggested that she was commenting on the way the dress appeared to hover above the ground while wrapped around a transparent mannequin. “It’s made to look very creepy,” she said.
The appearance of the tiara and veil floating above the dress does suggest the presence of a headless figure — a peculiarly sensitive matter for UK royals since Tudor times, when a number lost their heads to executioners.
Perhaps the Queen’s point was that the duchess — wife of the monarch’s grandson Prince William — is a hard act to follow as a model for the discount column wdding dresses.
The duchess appeared to defend the exhibit, which is positioned in the center of the Ballroom in the State Rooms of the Palace, saying that the display had a “3D effect.”
The discount aline wedding dresses will be the highlight of the summer opening of the palace, which will also feature an exhibition of Faberge ornaments amassed by the royal family since the reign of Queen Victoria.
Designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, the gown was the best-kept secret of the wedding. During the photocall in which the two women examined the dress, the Queen chatted animatedly, The Times reported. The two also stopped to view a reconstruction of the wedding cake. William and Catherine kept the top two tiers of the cake while the third was cut up and eaten by wedding guests. The missing parts have been replaced for the exhibition. The Queen joked quietly to the duchess: “We did eat this?”