The engagement of Peter Phillips, eldest grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, to Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant, was announced on 28 July 2007. Peter and Autumn were introduced while both were working at the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. When the couple started dating, Peter kept his royal identity a secret for eleven months and Autumn accidentally discovered who he was while watching footage of Prince William’s 21st birthday party. As the relationship became more serious, Autumn moved to London and began to be included in royal family celebrations, an honour usually reserved for those already engaged.
Peter, who has no title, carries out no official engagements and is not on the civil list, however he has always been regarded as a member of the extended royal family. When the engagement was announced, it caused immediate controversy due to the fact Autumn was a Catholic and by marrying her, Peter would lose his place in the line of succession as per the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701. The problem was resolved when Autumn chose to convert to the Church of England weeks before the wedding.
The couple married on 17 May 2008 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in the presence of the majority of the royal family. Autumn chose to retain her Canadian citizenship which means their children will have dual nationality and be the first Canadians in the line of succession.
The day wasn’t without controversy though as the couple had already broken royal protocol by selling exclusive rights to Hello! magazine for £500,000 which would include unprecedented access to Windsor chapel. The Queen was said to have been gravely dismayed by the blatant commercialisation of the royal family, and Buckingham Palace has since banned any future deals for weddings, christenings, and other public events attended by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. The intimate photos of the royal family portrayed in the magazine, particularly of the Queen, infuriated politicians and other royals who condemned the young couple’s decision.
As the newlyweds left the chapel, they were greeted by children from local primary schools who waved union jack and Canadian maple leaf flags. Peter and Autumn then traveled in an open carriage to Frogmore House for the reception which had been loaned by the Queen for the occasion. The wedding cake featured Canadian maple leafs in honour of the bride’s nationality.
The wedding dress, designed by Sassi Holford, was made of Italian duchesse satin and ivory Chantilly lace with a three-tiered sash at the waist and a beaded bolero of ivory Chantilly lace covering the bride’s shoulders. The back of the dress had a long cathedral train with Chantilly lace inserts and hand-tied bows. The silk tulle veil was edged with a beaded Chantilly lace border, and was held in place by the Festoon tiara on loan from Princess Anne.