Even royal weddings, expensive and grand as they are, don’t always go well. And it’s extra unfortunate for the royals in question, as their wedding days end up going down in the annals of history. Because of how much the world loves a good royal wedding, these 20 stories of disaster (or near-disaster) have been remembered. Some of them for hundreds of years! And… no, the actual marriages didn’t always work out either.
20. Diana got Charles’ name wrong at their wedding
It’s true that Prince Charles has a lot of names to remember – that’s often the case with royalty. But you’d have thought she’d have got his first name right. Instead, she called him “Philip Charles Arthur George” at the altar, instead of “Charles Philip Arthur George.” The media put it down to feeling nervous on her marriage day, but considering that their relationship ended up a very unhappy one, perhaps it was an omen.
19. Queen Elizabeth’s tiara broke
Even the future queen had a wedding-day disaster. As she was preparing for her wedding to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, which would be broadcast on radio and no doubt photographed, her tiara snapped in half. But all was not lost! The tiara was hurried (guarded by police) to a jewelry house, where it was fixed just in time for the walk down the aisle.
18. There was a brawl at the wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia
It sounds like something out of a (royal) soap opera, but yep – there was an actual fight at the high-class 2004 nuptials of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain. Prince Vittorio Emanuele, heir to the throne of Italy, apparently punched his cousin Duke Amedo twice in the face. The newspaper La Stampa later managed to grab an interview with the duke, in which he said the incident was “an unpleasant business that does not deserve further comment.” Quite.
17. Prince William was sleep-deprived at his wedding
If you were about to get married in front of millions of people, you’d be pretty nervous too. Such was the case with Prince William before his wedding to Kate Middleton. In a 2012 interview with Alan Titchmarsh, he explained that the vast crowds in London helped keep him awake. “They were singing and cheering all night long, so the excitement of that, the nervousness of me and everyone singing – I slept for about half an hour,” he said.
16. George IV got drunk at his wedding
Royal weddings weren’t always the slick, professional affairs they are now. Back in 1795 George, Prince of Wales married Caroline of Brunswick, a woman he’d never met, purely for the money rather than anything else. It did not go well. He was appalled at his new wife’s apparent ugliness, got drunk at the ceremony and insulted her in about every way possible. Caroline wasn’t particularly impressed with him either.
15. A TV star had allergies at Harry and Meghan’s wedding
Among the celebs who attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was James Corden. But, according to him, he could’ve brought the whole thing crashing down because of a flower allergy. “For a lot of the ceremony, I just needed to sneeze,” Corden said on The Late Late Show after the wedding. “Right at the point when the archbishop was saying, ‘If anyone knows of any reason…’ and I was like, ‘Please don’t sneeze.’” He did pull a face though.
14. Princess Diana spilled perfume down her dress
An awful lot of things seemed to go wrong at Princess Diana’s wedding. Her white dress was spectacular, but just before the wedding started she spilled a bottle of perfume on it. She hid the perfume stain very well indeed – her makeup artist Barbara Daly only revealed what had happened in 2018 – but it must have been a heartstopping moment.
13. A horse got loose at William and Kate’s wedding
One little-known element of the William-Kate wedding: the escaped horse. As the newly married couple were riding in the procession, a horse got spooked and threw its rider to the ground. Kate looked worried – she’s actually allergic to horses – but a mounted police officer restrained the animal and everything carried on as planned. Nobody was even injured, luckily.
12. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha threw up at her wedding
Unfortunately, forced marriages between wealthy ladies were common hundreds of years ago. This was what happened to poor Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha – she was made to marry Frederick, Prince of Wales, a man she had never met and whose language she didn’t even speak. Augusta was so upset, understandably, that she threw up. Alas, some of it went on her new mother-in-law, Queen Caroline, too.
11. The Duke of Windsor screamed his wedding vows
The wedding between Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, was probably never going to go smoothly. He gave up the throne to marry her, leading to the abdication crisis that changed Britain forever. Needless to say, he was nervous at the wedding, and when asked “Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her?” he screamed “I will!” rather than said it. Later, his hands trembled when he put the ring on her.
10. Princess Nathalie left her bouquet behind
When Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (it’s Danish!) married Alexander Johannsmann in 2011, almost everything was perfect apart from one thing. She actually forgot her flower bouquet and had to wait around for someone to go get it for her before walking down the aisle. But she kept smiling for the cameras throughout!
9. Princess Margaret’s best man was replaced
When Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones, it was expected that his best friend Jeremy Fry would be the best man. However, Fry was replaced at the last moment due to an illness – or so everyone thought. His homosexuality, which included a past fine for a “homosexual offence,” had proved to be something too difficult for the Palace to handle. Homosexuality wasn’t actually decriminalized in the U.K. until 1967, seven years after the wedding.
8. Camilla was at Princess Diana’s wedding
Imagine knowing your husband’s mistress was at your wedding? That’s what happened to Princess Diana. Prince Charles had never gotten over Camilla Parker Bowles, but he apparently always presented her to Diana as just a friend. Other guests at the wedding reported that Charles looked sadly at Camilla when he spotted her – and the rest, of course, is history.
7. Kate’s wedding ring nearly didn’t go on
There was a very brief moment during William and Kate’s wedding where it seemed like the ring might not go onto Kate’s finger. It did, thankfully! According to the Daily Mail at the time, Kate had asked to have the ring made smaller because she’d lost weight and didn’t reckon on it being quite as small as it was. But she and William later found it funny.
6. Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves didn’t consummate their marriage
After the marriage ceremony of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves – his fourth wife – things apparently didn’t go well. The marriage went unconsummated. Seeing as how Henry was more than 20 years older than her, overweight and unhealthy, perhaps that’s not too surprising on her end. According to history, Henry delivered news of the failed wedding night with the words, “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse.”
5. The Queen didn’t attend her son’s wedding
When Prince Charles eventually married Camilla Parker Bowles, one significant person wasn’t there. That was the mother of the groom, Queen Elizabeth. And why? Because both Charles and Camilla were divorced, which went against the teachings of the Church of England, the institution the Queen is head of. She did attend a dedication service for the couple, but the wedding itself was right out.
4. Meghan’s father didn’t come to her wedding
Just days before the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, it was announced that Meghan’s father wouldn’t be walking her down the aisle. Whether it was because of his health, or because of a controversy in which he staged photos for the paparazzi, no one knew. As it was, Prince Charles walked Meghan down the aisle instead. But it still couldn’t have been a fun announcement for her to have to make.
3. Princess Beatrice of the Netherlands married an ex-Hitler Youth member
When Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was still a princess, she chose a husband in Claus von Amsberg. This proved to be controversial, as he had been a member of the Hitler Youth when he was younger. It had been mandatory for all Germans at the time, but the backlash was intense. During the wedding procession, someone even let off a smoke bomb.
2. The Duchess of Alba’s children disapproved of her marriage
The Duchess of Alba, who died in 2014, was a tabloid darling throughout her life. She married three times, and the last of these marriages was in 2011 to Alfonso Díez Carabantes, a commoner. Her children raised objections. “The tough part was that my children didn’t understand and they got quite angry with me,” the duchess told Hola! at the time. Díez renounced all claims to her wealth before he married her, and all the bride’s children came to the wedding but one (she had the chickenpox.)
1. At Marie Antoinette’s wedding, 132 people died
When Marie Antoinette (aged 14) married Louis XVI (aged 15) celebrations were held throughout France. And unfortunately, one of those celebrations involved a fireworks display, which caused a fire in which 132 people perished. The newly married couple were actually appalled at the tragedy, and donated money to the survivors – but their marriage ended in horror as well. Both were guillotined during the French Revolution.