I didn’t plan to write about the royal wedding but hey-ho, let’s jump on the proverbial bandwagon a little, shall we? While for some mysterious reason I didn’t find the latest royal wedding intriguing enough, I looked into the royal beauty traditions and etiquette that instantly woke up the beauty geek in me so here I am, tip-tapping away, having fun already.
When it comes to the royal beauty etiquette, there are some rules you have to adhere to:
I don’t know if you noticed but despite Queen Elizabeth’s signature bright pink lipstick the rest of the court doesn’t use strong lip colours. For instance, you will never see Cathrine, the Duchess of Cambridge wearing other than a fresh nude-pink shade. The best thing about it? You don’t have to worry about it smudging or topping up, it is pretty low maintenance.
The whole makeup look for a royal lady should be clean with a natural-looking base and neutral colours, keeping it simple yet elegant, chic, always polished, never overdone.
Since royal engagements sometimes last long hours, longevity is key, the royal makeup has to stay put. Buffing in many layers of foundation, of course, is no option so a light layer of powder or a good squirt of setting spray or two could play a key part in the makeup routine.
Simple elegance is the order of the day when it comes to nails too, a clean, nude manicure is a must at court. Queen Elizabeth apparently is not a fan of bright manicures and long nails, so, again to bring up the Duchess, Cathrine will never turn up to an event with red nails. Rumour has it, her favourite nail varnish is Ballet Slippers from Essie.
When it comes to hair, a tidy haircut, even colour a decent blow-dry or a neat updo is a main accessory in the royal court. Messy ballerina buns (I’m am looking at you Meghan Markle!) or too modern a cut is out of the question though changing up the style a bit (like getting a fringe) in encouraged occasionally.
But what about weddings, you ask? It seems the same rules apply to the wedding makeup protocol too. The key is timeless elegance, and the goal is not showing off but respecting and continuing the royal tradition.
Let’s see three generations of brides and their beauty styles. This is by no means a comparison or to say, ‘who wore it best’ but simply an admiration of pure class and elegance which is the common denominator across these images no matter how long ago they were taken.
Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex (2018)
Meghan is the embodiment of young, modern beauty. Actually, I was surprised when I looked up her age, she is 36 but to me, she looks much younger. Despite rumours that she was going to do her own makeup, she has eventually chosen her long-time friend, Dior celebrity make-up artist Daniel Martin to do the job.
Daniel and Meghan following the royal tradition opted for a youthful, fresh, skin-focused minimal look showing off her freckles and peachy-glowy cheeks. He defined the eyes with a subtle, warm bronzy-brown smoke, some inividual lashes in the outer corner of the eyes and well-groomed brows. Martin finished off the look with a light pink tinted lip balm to make the look seem effortless and chic. Let’s face it though, Meghan has such gorgeous features and incredible skin that she doesn’t need much definig to look fantastic.
Daniel Martin has stayed tightlipped about the actual products he was using on the day (royalty has to stay brand neutral after all), but here is what he had to say to Glamour Magazine:
“She’s very much about keeping her skin as real and natural as possible. Meghan has incredible skin. I started by prepping her skin with a clarifying toner, water-based moisturizer, and a Korean sunscreen that also acts as a foundation gripper to lock down foundation. Then I just balanced and neutralized any discolorations where needed with concealer and foundation. I like to use water-based foundations because it absorbs well into your skin without becoming oily over time. We didn’t have a specific person as our inspiration, but our anchor descriptions were timeless, effortless, and chic. She wanted to look like her best self.”…” I customized and shaped out some corner lashes to give her that doe-eye look, pulling them out on the outer corners. This added weight to her natural lashes without looking heavy.”..”… The trick to this technique is to lay down a base of cream color all over your lid and layer it with an accompanied eyeshadow. I used shades of warm chestnut, cocoa, and smudge of rust into her lash line. This melds and breaks down naturally over time, creating a depth that appears smudgy and smoky in pictures.”…” I used a luminizer with a dual fiber brush to stipple on top of her foundation. I then used my finger to lightly tap a cream coral color on the apples of her cheeks to add a slight flush as well.”…”…a tinted lip balm gave color without looking like heavy lipstick. We wanted a natural flush.”…”I only used powder on her forehead, that’s it!”
Apparently, Meghan’s favourite foundation is Armani’s Luminous Silk which makes me like her already! She has good taste! I can see myself re-creating this look very soon.
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge (2011)
Kate Middleton is the same age as Meghan but her style is very different (to me at least). I consider her a more old-school, traditional beauty, a typical English Rose so to speak. Thinking of it, this might be the image that she has to portray given her role.
Contrary to Meghan, Kate has opted for doing her makeup herself on the big day to keep up the consistency with her own style that signifies British royalty well. She booked a few lessons from London-based makeup artist Arabella Preston just to be on the safe side. Word is that she loves Bobbi Brown makeup (actually she reminds me of Katie Holmes who used to be a Bobbi Brown ambassador) so I’m pretty much sure she used the brand on her wedding day too.
Her makeup on the day was slightly old-school with black kohled eyes and quite a good dose of a colour on her cheeks. The overall look was matte and cool toned with a satin finish neutral-pink lipstick. The only detail I know about this royal wedding look is that Kate got her manicure from Marina Sandoval, who created a very classy a custom-shade only for this occasion blending Bourjois’ no. 28 Rose Lounge and Essie’s 423 Allure.
Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales (1981)
At the tender age of 20, Diana looked the epitome of a ‘blushing bride’. Her makeup artist on the day Barbara Daly has created a fabulous look that reflected the 1980s well but it wasn’t too trendy.
Royal makeup should always be timeless in a way and I think she achieved it really well, steering clear from the extravagant trends of the decade. Diana wore a subtle smokey eye look with a splash of pink on the cheeks and a fresh pink lip. Her haircut is the feature that connects these images above to the 1980s straight away but only in a subtle, charming way.
I don’t have much detail on what she wore on the day, but according to Clayton Howard, her makeup artist for the engagement photo shoot, she liked Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden a lot. He even saved the face chart he used on the day, here it is courtesy of My Frugal Lady:
What a treat to see this for a make-up geek like me!
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II. (1947)
Given the black and white photography, it is difficult to say what kind of makeup the princess wore back then but judging by the post-war values and her preference for the understated, I guess it was quite minimal and subtle, just as royal tradition dictates.
She seems to wear a dark lip colour here but the focus is on more on her well-styled curls, the tiara and the pearls around her neck, everywhere else but the makeup. Her look was all about simplicity and elegance, being a good example as she always is. Showing off extravagance in the midst of the rationing system would have been vulgar after all.
Let me finish my post with my absolute favourite royal beauty look: Princess Diana collaborating with makeup maestro Mary Greenwell and hair guru Sam McKnight in 1990 for Vogue, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. Mary has created a beautifully blended look for her but her best beauty accessory in this shot is her rarely seen big smile which makes this captured moment so much more special.