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Sophie Wessex's unusual wedding accessories that symbolised an ominous belief

The Duchess of Edinburgh wore a rule-breaking set of black pearls on her wedding day to Prince Edward


sophie wessex wedding tiara
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
June 28, 2023
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Earlier this month, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh marked 23 years of marriage. As we reminisce about their unforgettable royal nuptials, we take a closer look at the royal bride's unique bridal pearls.

Rewind to 19 June 1999, when Sophie Rhys-Jones (formerly the Countess of Wessex) tied the knot with Prince Edward at St George's Chapel in Windsor. The grand affair was characterised by Duchess Sophie's spellbinding pearl-encrusted bridal dress designed by Samantha Shaw - but it was her rule-breaking wedding accessories that were truly memorable.

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Considering Duchess Sophie was marrying Queen Elizabeth II's son and likely given the opportunity to wear exquisite jewels from the royal collection, Sophie's modest set of accessories worn on her wedding day were an unusual choice.

royal wedding sophie wessex
Sophie wore a dress designed by Samantha Shaw

Instead of opting for diamonds, like the Princess of Wales, Zara Tindall and the Duchess of Sussex, Sophie chose to wear a breathtaking set of white and black pearl drop earrings, a matching bracelet, and a necklace featuring a cross design.

READ: Sophie Wessex's stunning £105k engagement ring has sweet link to Princess Diana

prince edward sophie wessex wedding© Getty
Sophie wore the Anthemion Tiara on her wedding day

The unique collection of pearls were gifted to the royal bride by her husband, Prince Edward, who commissioned Asprey and Garrard to make the regal accessories especially for their wedding day. 

sophie wessex wedding prince edward© Getty
The Duchess of Edinburgh was a trailblazing bride wearing black pearls on her wedding day

Black pearls have a deeply symbolic meaning, most commonly used to represent allure, protection, independence, wealth, strength and control. According to Timeless Pearl, black pearls are often deemed to be a symbol of hope for wounded hearts, while others say they carry healing powers and believe black pearls protect the wearer from negative energy.

Prince Edward is the only one of the Queen's children to not have divorced and remarried - so if the black pearls did symbolise wounded hearts - they certainly haven't yet impacted his marriage with the Duchess of Edinburgh. 

sophie wessex wedding shoes© Getty
The Duchess' wedding pearls were comissioned by her husband Prince Edward

Wearing pearls is not an uncommon occurrence for royal ladies, who often don the precious gems for formal royal occasions, though it seems Sophie is one of the first to wear a black accessory on her wedding day. 

Duchess Sophie teamed her daring set of pearls with a scrollwork-motif diamond tiara that is thought to have been from the Queen's private collection.

PHOTOS: 19 breathtaking royal engagement rings: Kate Middleton, Zara Tindall, Sarah Ferguson & more

The price tag of the royal's wedding jewellery has never been revealed, but we imagine they were crafted with the finest pearls and precious metals.

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