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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Mary Bettans

Queen Victoria's wedding dress 1840

RCIN 71975

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Mary Bettans was a long-serving official dressmaker to Queen Victoria from around 1820 until the mid-1840s. Little is known about Bettans as an individual, but she began to design clothes for the Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria’s mother, from around 1817 and for her eldest daughter Princess Feodora, prior to working for Queen Victoria. Bettans’ premises were located at 84 Jermyn Street and payments to her are recorded first in the Duchess of Kent’s accounts and later in the Office of Robes Account Ledger, compiled during Queen Victoria’s reign.

One of the most important dresses of Queen Victoria’s reign, her wedding dress for her marriage to Prince Albert on 10 February 1840, is attributed to Mary Bettans. Bettans was considered a fashionable court dressmaker, certainly in the early part of her career and Queen Victoria’s wedding dress was notable for establishing a form of bridal fashion that persists to this day, formalising as it did the wearing of white wedding dresses. Queen Victoria’s decision to wear a white wedding dress made it desirable at all levels of society and a symbol of romantic love and purity.