When Kate Middleton married Prince William on April 29, 2011, she officially became royalty, so it makes sense that she wanted to wear a timeless wedding dress befitting of the special occasion. On the big day, the bride donned a custom Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown which boasted handmade lace, floral appliqués, long sleeves, a deep V-neck, and an eight-foot train and has since earned its place as one of the most beloved dresses in bridal fashion history. In order to preserve the outfit and its legacy, the garment was put on display at Buckingham Palace as part of a royal wedding exhibition after Kate and William tied the knot. As it turns out, not everyone was a fan of the idea. A video of the late Queen Elizabeth II commenting on the Princess of Wales’ dress on display in 2011 has gone viral on TikTok, and it seems the monarch had mixed feelings about the exhibit.
Before the exhibition was open to the public, Kate and the former monarch took a tour of the displays, according to Newsweek. Once Elizabeth saw Kate’s dress, veil, and tiara on a headless mannequin, she had a hilarious reaction, which TikTok user @the.royal.watcher posted on the social media site. In the clip, Queen Elizabeth turns to Kate and says the illusion of the floating dress and crown was “Horrid, isn’t it?” Kate is quick to quip back, “Without my face there?” Elizabeth then responds, “Horrible…dreadful.” Right after, the monarch is introduced to Carolina de Guitar, deputy surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art for the Royal Collection Trust, who created the exhibit.
The video instantly gained traction with royal fans and has already received 804,400 views, 29,800 likes, 181 comments, and 133 shares. The clip was also shared at the time of Elizabeth’s death in September of 2022 in a video compilation of her funniest moments. Royal expert Christine Ross tells Newsweek that the video is the perfect example of the former monarch’s sense of humor. "The queen famously had a very good sense of humor, but it was undeniably a dry sense of humor," she explains. “The lighting and the headless mannequin gave this display a macabre feeling, which the queen pointed out straight away. Kate and the queen joked about the nature of the display.”
Elizabeth had also seen many of her own dresses on display before. In 2016, 90 of her evening gowns and day dresses were placed in an exhibition at Buckingham Palace in honor of her 90th birthday. One of the dresses was her wedding guest dress for Kate and William’s wedding, which was a yellow canary coat, dress, and hat designed by Angela Kelly, according to Newsweek. “I think both women see the slightly bizarre nature of putting your clothes out for thousands of people to see, but ultimately, [they] understand the historical value and significance,” Ross says.
Many other royals have had their wedding dresses put on display following their nuptials. The Royal Collection Trust also organized an exhibit that features Meghan Markle’s Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy gown and the shoes, jewelry, and frockcoat she wore on her wedding day to Prince Harry on May 19, 2018. After Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank said “I do,” their wedding attire was also preserved in glass at Windsor Castle for the public to admire. For Eugenie, having her long-sleeve A-line gown designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos demonstrated to the public was important for her because it showed off her scoliosis scar. “I had always wanted a low back—part of it was showing my scar,” she told People. “And I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future, and it’s a way of getting rid of a taboo. For me, it’s a way of communicating with people who are going through either similar situations with scoliosis or having a scar of their own that they are trying to deal with.”