Royal wedding: What is a prince to wear?

From military dress to black tie, Prince Harry has plenty of options to pick from as he prepares to marry Meghan Markle

I get the impression that HRH Harry knows fully well that he’s become something of a sex symbol in his military uniform. His propensity to appear (even with the etiquette-bending beard) in No.1 dress is an extremely effective part of Harry’s popularity at present, it gives the impression of service to nation, protector of people etc. The enormous aiguillettes, the broad red stripe on the trouser, the grand cuffs, all add a sense of majesty and drama. It may also be because now he has gotten a taste of the benefits of uniform, his suiting feels somewhat regular, though it is an unfair comparison. It’s not the fault of his tailors, Gieves & Hawkes, who make fantastic suits, but it is a tough act to follow when there’s less room for embellishment.

So, with the wedding imminent, while everyone ponders the bride’s dress, I am excited to see what the groom will come up with, especially when he has so many options available to him. But if he is still pondering, perhaps this will help him with the decision, and anyone else planning nuptials of their own…

Military dress

Odds on favourite, his choice of the Blues and Royals as his regiment after Sandhurst did allow for an extraordinarily dashing uniform and rather naughtily meant that he looked much finer than his brother did in his comparatively modest Irish Guards uniform. Surely however, he has to up his game on this occasion, he is after all the groom and wearing the same outfit you wore as best man to your brother isn’t exactly looking like you made too much effort for your own big day. The problem is that one can’t really add much more to what he has already done, so that, and the fact that this is clearly being sold as a ‘smaller’ wedding, opens up the other options too.

Morning dress

Ideal for any wedding at any time of year, but Prince Harry will need to tread carefully if he goes for this option. Morning dress presents plenty of tailoring difficulties. The coat has a remarkably complicated shape to balance properly. There are very few tailors left to make this coat beautifully. One of them is John Kent of Kent, Haste & Lachter, tailor to the Duke of Edinburgh and who made my own morning coat for my wedding – it took seven fittings. The waistcoat and trousers tend to ruin morning dress. This is largely down to taste but I find the enormous black cashmere stripes on many morning trousers to be unattractive. There are some far more subtle designs available. Equally 99% of waistcoat options are dreadful, usually a bit shiny and ill-advisedly patterned. A quick style tip: When picking a waistcoat, match the colour with that of your socks.

Suit

An unlikely choice for Prince Harry. Strange as it may seem, a suit, however well-tailored, would be a bit casual for His Royal Highness to wear at his wedding. If he were to go with it, and indeed if you are too, then navy is the colour to pick. A 10-ounce fabric is about the lightest you can go without drifting into crease-risk fabrics. Linen should be avoided. It will crease and look awful. Well-polished black shoes are a must, and I’d recommend a beautiful loafer that allows for more sock to be seen. It will break up the look and seem more streamlined. If you are getting married yourself, there are some excellent made-to-measure services that mean you can get something much more personal than off the rack, but much cheaper than full bespoke.

Black tie

Please, no. America has provided us with all sorts of wonderful things, but this idiosyncrasy is a step too far. Black tie, also known as a dinner suit or evening dress, is traditionally worn over dinner, in the evening. We must trust His Royal Highness to forgo this option.

Tom Chamberlin is editor of The Rake magazine


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