Kate Middleton Broke Royal Wedding Protocol With This American Tradition

The Princess of Wales had her sister, Pippa Middleton, serve as her maid of honor.

Kate Middleton and Prince William on their wedding day

George Pimentel / Getty Images

Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding, which took place on April 29, 2011, is still considered one of the most influential and iconic affairs more than a decade later, but their event didn’t follow all of the royal wedding rules. According to wedding planner Lavinia Stewart-Brown, the simple fact that the bride enlisted her sister, Pippa Middleton, to serve as her maid of honor (a recognized American wedding tradition) meant that the nuptials broke royal protocol. Typically, royal brides have younger children serve as their bridesmaids, and the maid-of-honor role doesn’t usually exist for British royal nuptials, Hello! reports. The wedding professional explains that even though Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana had sisters, neither of them gave them the title of "maid of honor." However, 12 years after Kate and William tied the knot, assigning a sister of the bride the maid of honor is a more frequent practice. 

Pippa Middleton holding Kate Middleton's train

Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

As Kate’s maid of honor, Pippa sported a white gown with short sleeves and a cowl neck by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Kate also tapped the designer to create her custom wedding dress, which included handmade lace, floral appliqués, long sleeves, a deep V-neck, and an eight-foot train. Since it’s a tradition for the bride to wear white at royal weddings, some thought the color choice for Kate's maid of honor was atypical, according to Express.

Pippa Middleton holding hands with younger bridesmaids at Kate's wedding

Mike Marsland / Getty Images

William also included the American tradition of choosing a best man at his wedding. According to Insider, British royal weddings typically have “supporters” rather than a best man, but William decided to alter the practice. At first, it was reported that William asked his brother, Prince Harry, to do the honors. However, in his tell-all memoir, Spare, Harry revealed that he was never his brother’s best man. Instead, two of William’s friends, James Meade and Thomas van Straubenzee, played the part.

Kate’s decision to have her sister star as the main member of her bridal party wasn’t the only time she strayed from royal wedding protocol. According to the documentary William & Kate: The Journey, the princess wore her hair down, although royal officials encouraged her to tie her hair back in an updo, like other royal brides. For her vows, Kate recited traditional vows, but she decided to omit the word “obey," just like her late mother-in-law Diana. Then, following Kate and William’s vow exchange, the newlyweds made their appearance on the balcony to share the highly anticipated kiss, but instead of one peck, they kissed twice. “Responding to chants from the crowd to ‘kiss her again,’ the newlyweds locked lips, and William blushed ever so slightly,” ABC News reported.

Although their 2011 nuptials didn’t follow royal wedding protocol to a T, the couple did incorporate many traditions. Kate’s bouquet—made of lily of the valley, sweet William, hyacinth, and myrtle—is one example. “A subtle way to nod to tradition is also through your choice of bouquet,” Stewart-Brown said. "Both the late Queen Elizabeth, the Princess of Wales, and Meghan Markle included a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets in honor of Queen Victoria, who herself set the trend on her own big day in 1858.” 

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