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Duchess Sophie in a purple dress getting into a car© Fiona Hanson - PA Images

Duchess Sophie's fitted wedding guest dress dropped major Prince Edward bridal hint

The Duchess of Edinburgh was pictured at her wedding dress designer Samantha Shaw's nuptials

Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
June 4, 2024
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While the world was speculating about the Duchess of Edinburgh's chosen wedding dress in the months leading up to her royal wedding in June 1999, the answer was right under their noses.

Just one month before she exchanged vows with Prince Edward, Sophie showcased her elegant wedding guest style, subtly dropping hints about her royal wedding that nobody picked up on.

Duchess Sophie in a purple dress and black hat© Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock
Sophie wore a tailored coat dress to Samantha Shaw's wedding

In May 1999, Sophie was pictured attending the nuptials of designer Samantha Shaw, who was the mastermind behind her bridal gown. A further indication of the close bond she had formed with the British designer came in the form of her choice of wedding guest dress – a lilac pencil dress from Samantha.

Duchess Sophie and Prince Edward waving from a carriage on their wedding day© Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library
Samantha Shaw designed Sophie's two wedding dresses in June 1999

The tailored design featured a V-neck, contrasting stitching and a fitted skirt that fell to her knees, which she teamed with a black floral hat and slingback heels. She layered a matching coat over the top in the same colour and style, which may have been a nod to the two bridal gowns she had privately commissioned from Samantha.

Sophie's hidden wedding dress

sophie wessex wedding shoes
The royal's second wedding dress was hidden underneath her coat dress

As she arrived at St George's Chapel, the former public relations consultant hid her embroidered second wedding dress underneath a floor-length coat dress. The elegant V-neck, long-sleeved dress was decorated with over 325,000 pearls and crystal beads. 

While very few photos reveal the frock underneath, fans got a fleeting glimpse as Sophie left her reception for her honeymoon. She wore a fitted long-sleeved gown with a sparkly waist, which Samantha said was "super private for the evening dinner."

In an interview with Tatler, Samantha opened up about the biggest challenges in creating a royal wedding dress. "There was an evening dress under the coat dress, which was to remain super private for the evening dinner, and I had to get the fabric perfectly dyed to colour-match the beautiful stone of St George’s Chapel. Getting up there without being noticed was fun – and also a huge challenge."

sophie edward wedding reception
Sophie was pictured in an embellished V-neck wedding dress as she left for her honeymoon

Samantha also explained that the secrecy surrounding the design in the lead-up to the wedding was "daunting."

"A friend of mine managed to find me a security guard who he personally trusted to stay at my studio, as someone did go through my bins and was hanging around there at night! The invasion of my privacy was very daunting," she added.

Sophie and Edward's love story

Sophie Rhys-Jones worked in public relations when she met her future husband, Prince Edward© Richard Young/Shutterstock
Sophie Rhys-Jones worked in public relations when she met her future husband, Prince Edward

Sophie's job was responsible for the couple crossing paths in 1987. She was working as a press officer at Capital Radio and the late Queen Elizabeth II's son Edward was dating Sophie’s friend. 

Prince Edward kissing Duchess Sophie on the cheek© Tim Graham
Edward proposed in 1998 while on holiday with Sophie

Their love story didn't begin until years later in December 1993 when Sophie worked on publicity for the royal’s Real Tennis Challenge event. They dated for five years before Edward proposed in the Bahamas in December 1998.

DON'T MISS: Why Princess Kate and Meghan Markle didn't wear Princess Diana's wedding tiara

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