Royal weddings are the epitome of opulence and exorbitance. While most modern “Royals” are practically just tourist attractions and paparazzi fodder, they still know how to throw a party for the green-eyed commoner. Here we list 10 of the most lavish modern royal wedding extravaganzas.
1. Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum of Dubai & Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum (1979)
The king of Dubai’s wedding was more of a national festival than a nuptial. A 20,000 seater stadium was purpose built for the ceremony which featured displays of horse and camel riding and an aerobatics display by the Dubai Air Force. The total cost, when adjusted for inflation, is estimated to be around $100 million. You have to trust the Emiratis to overdo it.
2. Prince Charles of United Kingdom and Diana Spencer (1981)
Perhaps the wedding of the generation, this captivating ceremony was broadcasted live to an audience of 750 million people. Diana’s infamous wedding gown featured a 25 foot train, 8 meter long veil and a $15000 bill. The entire show cost around $50 million.
3. Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (2004)
A wedding that will sadly be remembered for things other than the wedding itself. Crown Prince Felipe’s choice was an award winning news reporter and divorcee who he met when she was covering the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in 2002. The wedding was held at the Cathedral Nuestra Senora de la Almudena in Madrid, which witnessed a massive one million flower plantation campaign and other excessive decorative sieges. The event was secured by 18,000 policemen and soldiers, since 191 people had been killed by subway bombings in the city only two months ago. This huge security effort pumped the cost of the wedding up to a staggering $29 million. Other highlights included an uninvited retired Colonel managing to sneak in with a gun and a royal Italian fistfight between Prince Vittorio Emanuele and Duke Amedeo.
4. Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly (1956)
The Monacoan prince, who once dumped a girlfriend because she was infertile, was perhaps the most eligible bachelor of his time. He met the Hollywood icon in Cannes and the ball was soon rolling. The real cost of the wedding has been never ascertained but is estimated to be in tens of millions of dollars. Prince Rainer’s father demanded a $2 million dowry and the bride’s father Jack Kelly paid half of that. The prince gifted his bride a 147-foot yacht called “Deo Juvante II” and the couple spent their honeymoon on the same boat, with Kelly being frequently seasick.
5. King Mohammed VI and Lalla Salma Bennani (2002)
This wedding was significant not only for the massive bill but also for being a rather ‘modern’ affair. The King met the 24 year old computer engineer at a party and the couple were soon engaged. In breaking with tradition, the engagement was announced on television and the bride was actually shown with the King, a far cry from the secretive wives and harems Mohammad’s father had kept. Their wedding encompassed a tradition royal function, in which the bride was kept completely covered, and a massive public celebration in Rabat, attended by dignitaries such as Bill and Chelsea Clinton. The entire festival is thought to have cost tens of millions of dollars.
6. Prince Pavlos of Greece and Denmark and Marie-Chantal Miller (1995)
The Greek crown prince-in-exile and prince of Denmark, Prince Pavlos’s wedding to the American heiress saw the biggest gathering of royalty since Queen Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip in 1947. The event was organized by Lady Elizabeth Anson, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin who chose the iconic St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London as the venue. The equally ornate reception by Miller, who reportedly carried a $130 million dowry, cost $8 million. Not everyone was happy though and the wedding was billed as “provocative” by the Greek socialist government.
7. Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah of Brunei and Sarah Saleh (2004)
The Brunei royalty is well known for flaunting its wealth and royal weddings are certainly no exception. The 30 year old crown Prince Billah’s traditional Malay wedding to the 17 year old commoner Saleh was held at the 1788 room royal palace and was laced with the usual gems and gold. The highlights included a 15 minute fireworks display viewed by over 20,000 spectators, a 5 mile 100 limousine royal parade and a $5 million price tag. However, even all this might have been upstaged by Princess Hajah Bulqiah’s wedding 3 years later.
8. Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling (2010)
When Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden announced her intention to marry her personal trainer Daniel Westling, her father King Carl XVI Gustaf was reportedly “shocked”. The sheer opulence of the wedding has been compared with that of Charles and Diana’s nuptials and cost more than $3 million. The ceremony took place in Stockholm Cathedral in front of 15 kings and queens (and Tiger Wood’s mother-in-law) while 250,000 people lined the streets. The event did raise a furor in equality-minded Sweden with 57,000 people joining a Facebook group to protest against the public expense and the King’s public approval ratings plummeting. Rumor has it that the King had advised the Princess to “have a go” at Prince Andrew.
9. Prince Phillipe of Belgium and Countess Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz (1999)
Prince Phillipe’s wedding to the aristrocratic speech therapist was unusual for taking place in the cold winter months. This however did nothing to cool down the expenditures and the ceremony went ahead with the usual royal flair. The guests included Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Charles. The princess’s wedding gown, designed by Edouard Vermeulen, has been hailed as one of the most stylish royal wedding dresses of the last century. Decorations for the cathedral, where the ceremony was held, alone cost $250,000. Interestingly, Princess Mathilde is the first Belgian-born royal consort in the Monarchy’s history.
10. Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby (2001)
These days, any wedding taking place in Oslo is going to be an expensive affair, let alone a highly talked about royal wedding. Prince Haakon’s wedding plans kicked up quite a storm in Norway due to the fact the Mette-Marit was a single mother who had been quite a raver in her time and the father of her child had a history of drug related offences. The lavish ceremony went ahead without any glitches though and had distinguished royalty from all over Europe in attendance