When Queen Elizabeth II' s only daughter, Princess Anne, married Lt. Mark Phillips on Nov. 14, 1973, her televised wedding to a fellow equestrian captivated millions around the world.
Yet Britain's future Princess Royal (a title the queen awarded to her in 1987) was a reluctant, if regal, public bride. Two days before her first marriage, she confessed to a television interviewer that she would prefer a more intimate ceremony with army officer Phillips, who was about to become the first commoner to enter the royal family in two generations.
The hard-working princess, known for keeping the most ambitious public schedule of her family, seemed to approach the wedding hype more with a sense of duty than a desire to flaunt her fairy-tale courtship.
So perhaps that explains why, despite an international audience of 500 million, the royal household guarded some of the details of her ceremony -- including the design elements of her Tudor-style gown -- as if they were state secrets.
Even on the royal wedding day, ABC commentators read sartorial notes supplied by a still-anonymous designer of the 23-year-old princess bride's dress.
The details were revealed only when Princess Anne arrived at Westminster Abbey in a horse-drawn glass carriage accompanied by her father, the Duke of Edinburgh. She stepped out to reveal elegant white high heels and a grand silk dress with a dramatic high collar and extravagant trumpet sleeves.
The gown featured a simple, pin-tucked bodice. Its most elaborate details were featured on a long, pure-silk train that moved effortlessly as she glided down the Abbey aisle to meet her husband at the altar.
While completely modest, the garment accentuated the bride's famously (and still) trim waist. Its accents included flowers outlined with pearls and silver thread.
The princess wore her hair in a slightly parted up-do with a bit of beehive volume that was topped with her grandmother's diamond tiara and a formal veil. The style was similar to one she wore for a Vogue cover, on an issue that profiled her in the months leading up to the ceremony.
Her husband wore the formal scarlet-and-blue military ensemble of his army regiment, the Queen's Dragoon Guards.
The princess, who professed a lack of interest in having a parade of bridesmaids, was attended by two 9-year-olds: her youngest brother, Prince Edward, and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (now Lady Sarah Chatto), her youngest cousin and daughter of Princess Margaret, the queen's sister.
In keeping with royal tradition, Queen Elizabeth is said to have offered Phillips an earldom on his wedding day, but he declined, making the couple's children, Peter and Zara Phillips, the first grandchildren of the sovereign to have no title.
After a wedding lunch at Buckingham Palace, the couple spent a night at the White House Lodge in Richmond Park before heading to Barbados for an 18-day cruise of the Atlantic and Pacific on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
While the British embraced the couple for their common interests, the union ended up being tumultuous. They divorced in spring of 1992, having already been separated for years.
Several months after her divorce, the princess royal wore a simple white day suit for her second Balmoral Castle wedding, this time to Timothy Laurence.
More recently, the frugal Princess Anne made unfortunate fashion news when she arrived at a 2008 family wedding wearing the same Maureen Baker dress she wore to the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
For another royal wedding history, read about the iconic dress Grace Kelly wore when her wedding to Prince Rainier made her a princess.
And check out the details of the accessible fashions Britain's Kate Middleton and Prince William wore for their official engagement photos.
And don't forget you can keep up to the minute on all the latest royal wedding news on royalwedding.aol.com.