Royal Wardrobe Malfunctions Caught On Camera

The royals are only human. We often seem to forget that, between all the gilded glamour and solemn codes of conduct that fill their lives. But every so often, a wardrobe mishap comes along to gently remind us that the eternally elegant British monarchy is given to the errors and oversights of mere mortals. The winds that so routinely catch the hems of Princess Catherine's dresses don't answer to the sovereignty of the royal family, after all. On the other hand, rogue sock holes and dress tags have always been elusive monsters too wild to tame. Though the royals and their staffers do much to avert fashion faux pas on the world stage — from sewing weights into clothes to affixing combs to hats, so things remain in place — there's bound to be a miss here and there. 

Can the royals afford to have wardrobe malfunctions stain their pristine appearances? Fashion professor Hazel Clark spoke to Time about how Queen Elizabeth II's powerful style choices "helped communicate her status as a world leader."

But, as spectators on social media have testified to time and again, the British monarchy's fashion missteps do little to dent their image and much to humanize them in the public's eyes. Nothing like a careless crease or a sloppy stain to tie us all together as part of a fashion-flawed community! Read through these somewhat mistimed, somewhat unfortunate, but totally relatable royal wardrobe malfunctions caught on camera. 

Princess Diana's creased wedding gown is still memorable

If Princess Diana can parade down her wedding aisle with a creased gown, you can afford to wear a wrinkled shirt to the office one day. 750 million viewers tuned into the magnificent royal nuptials of then-Prince Charles and Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981 ... only to see the to-be princess adorned in a billowing white gown rumpled with creases. Interestingly, this faux pas was not entirely unanticipated. Designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel, who were commissioned to make the dress, did factor in the possibility that the bride's voluminous piece was bound to get crushed. "In the tiny carriage, it had crumpled far more than we'd anticipated. We'd done a rehearsal, but not with her father, Earl Spencer, in the car, too — and he was quite a large man," Elizabeth Emanuel told The Daily Mail

When Diana emerged from her carriage, there was a panicked exchange, to the point of Elizabeth Emanuel actually feeling faint. "I was horrified," she recalled during an ITV appearance for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018 (per The Mirror). And yet, the dread couldn't overshadow how ethereal Diana looked in her regalia, which has been dubbed the "most closely guarded secret in fashion history" for all the secrecy that shrouded it until the day (per Town & Country).

Princess Catherine had a risqué Marilyn Monroe moment in Canada

The wind has been Princess Catherine's archnemesis ever since she became a working royal. Way more than once, the forever decorous princess has been caught in ruffled moments of awkwardly trying to hold down the hems of her buoyant skirts and dresses against high wind speeds. In one of her more scandalous moments of being blown away by nature, Catherine struggled to keep her lovely yellow dress down as she arrived in Canada in 2011 for an event. Press photos captured the then-Duchess of Cambridge trying to simultaneously manage her flyaway fit — which at one point fluttered high enough to show more skin than intended — and attend to official duties. 

The faux pas didn't go down well with viewers, one of whom passionately let their feelings known to designer Jenny Packham in a letter. "Well, I didn't know it was going to be worn on a windy runway. But I did think maybe in future I will put in more weighting, just in case, " Packham told Evening Standard. Catherine has had more than her fair share of Marilyn Monroe moments — in the white dress she wore in India or the polka-dot Topshop dress she wore during her pregnancy. Despite advice straight from Queen Elizabeth II, who apparently let Catherine in on her secret fashion hack of sewing curtain weights under dress hems, her dress debacles evidently can't always be weighed down! 

A price tag peeped out from under Meghan Markle's dress

In 2018, Meghan Markle stepped off a plane in Tonga with the most relatable faux pas peeking out from under her dress — a tiny innocuous price tag. Let's be honest — we've all been there. And the tiny flap of paper ruffling in the folds of Meghan's stunning Self Portrait dress could easily have gone unnoticed, had she been an ordinary commoner. But with the thorough scrutiny royal members are subjected to, it was only a matter of time before hawk-eyed netizens and media outlets spotted the slip in Meghan's otherwise impeccable look. 

Although, given that leaving the price tag dangling on a new dress is probably the most common fashion gaffe in the world, it was a moment of delight for social media users who went easy on the to-be-mommy. Some, like journalist Charlotte Hawkins, went an extra step to prove just how usual this oversight is by sharing a snap of herself on Instagram wearing a tag-yoked shoe, writing, "Oh, it happens to us all." Meghan, all smiles and clearly oblivious, paraded through the airport for a good five minutes before the rogue tag was captured and dealt with.

And now, for the million-dollar question: What was the dress worth? A royal remittance of over $400. 

Queen Elizabeth II attended a formal event in a stained dress

There was nary a moment that Queen Elizabeth II was ever unfashionable. For all 70 years of her reign as a monarch, she ruled both the United Kingdom and also the world of fashion. It wasn't without reason that she was regarded as an icon among the icons. The queen's trendsetting wardrobe was enduringly elegant and individualistic — and delightfully colorful, might we add. Her clothes couldn't ever be dissociated from her office.

"They make her appear steady and bright and ever-easy to spot in a crowd — an essential part of her role," as Susanna Cordner, archivist at London College of Fashion, told Women's Wear Daily. It was, therefore, almost surreal to see the perennially prim queen in attendance at a party with stains down her dress and a broken bag in hand. 

No, the party wasn't quite the rager it sounds. King Constantine of Greece celebrated his 70th birthday in 2010, and the British monarch was among the dignitaries invited. According to The Daily Mail, Queen Elizabeth was supposedly the victim of a coffee-spilling accident during the party, where she also seemed to have snapped the chain on her silver clutch. Ever the figure of grace, the world's most beloved royal owned the mishaps and remained composed, an onlooker remarked. They applauded how she "walked out without getting someone to stand in front of her to cover it up." A true queen, in all senses of the word! 

King Charles III made the old hole-in-a-sock faux pas

In terms of luxury, riches, and authority, the public just cannot compare to King Charles III. But one tiny but significant similarity ties the sovereign head of the United Kingdom to the rest of us paupers: Torn socks. Admit it, we all have that one holed-up sock that we wear on the regular and refuse to throw out, even as we can see the tear in it getting bigger with each wear. It probably wasn't due to thriftiness but oversight when Charles showed up at London's Brick Lane Mosque wearing a sock with a hole during an official visit in 2023.

The faux pas was immediately picked up by media outlets, but luckily for the monarch, it was a gaffe so endearing that he won hearts instead of criticism on social media. Always making for a dapper image in his tailored suits and suave style, Charles was likely not pleased with the sock slip. According to Christopher Andersen, who has authored a book on him, "Charles has always prided himself on his keen sense of style" (via Fox News).   

The internet was only just reeling from the tragicomedy of Charles' anguished encounters with faulty pens, when the torn sock came along — like clotted cream on treacle tart! Whether or not he likes it, Charles' relatability with the masses has only somehow increased since he became king.

Princess Catherine's color choice at the BAFTAs raised eyebrows

Though her position as a senior working member of the British royal family limits her from stepping her toe out of too many lines, Princess Catherine – in her quintessential manner of grace — appears to always successfully navigate her way through complex situations. One such testing episode arose in 2018, when the storm of #MeToo and Time's Up took over social events of the season.

Female attendees at the awards hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts planned to wear black in solidarity with the shared global sisterhood. A notification for the sartorial protest was well-publicized among the invitees and Catherine, doubtless, would have received a memo. Yet, she chose to show up at the BAFTAs embellished in a dark green Jenny Packham gown. 

The royal's seeming faux pas raised some eyebrows and brought under question her support for women's empowerment at the time. But her bypass of the blackout wasn't entirely unexpected, since protocol dictates British royals keep their distance from political statements. As Vanity Fair points out, the monarchy's enduring political neutrality is more a matter of tradition than law. While royal members besides the monarch are believed to have the power to vote, they don't necessarily wield it. If it's worth anything, Catherine's outfit was dark enough to blend into the crowd seamlessly and could be interpreted as both a clever circumvention and support of the dress code. 

The wind almost blew Queen Camilla's dress away at a christening

Being a royal in a dress can't be an easy task. With roving cameras and sharp-sighted netizens tuned into every single moment of vulnerability, one cannot afford to be caught off-guard. And a dress on a windy day is just a calamity waiting to happen! Camilla, queen consort, can probably testify to the tribulations of donning a fluttery dress on royal occasions since her own was nearly blown away by the breeze in 2015. 

The senior royal, then the Duchess of Cornwall, was in attendance at the christening of her granddaughter Princess Charlotte in a sky-blue dress. An ill-timed gust of wind dangerously lifted her attire and attempted to make off with her matching hat, as Camilla struggled to keep everything down. Possibly one of the reasons Camilla said on BBC Radio 5 Live, "I've been very, very happy with my jeans."

The wind has been an all too common enemy of Camilla's outfits, as well as those of Princess Catherine, whose run-ins with unfavorable weather are notorious — and incidentally, Queen Elizabeth II was positively clued into the wardrobe malfunctions of both women in her family! While legend goes that she apparently offered Catherine advice about weighing down her hems, she had only laughter to offer her daughter-in-law. As Camilla said during a tribute to the late monarch in 2022, the queen couldn't help but chuckle at her having worn two mismatched heels on her wedding day. 

Princess Beatrice's semi-sheer dress gave the public more than they asked for

There's nothing more aggravating than clothes riding up. Shorts, skirts, or worse ... inner garments. Why can't they just stay in place? The thought probably plagued Princess Beatrice after a relatable wardrobe mishap left her underwear exposed to the world in 2021. The young royal was in attendance at the V&A Summer Party in a chic black sheer dress. Likely unknown to her, the nude slip beneath her dress appeared to wriggle up far too much. Yikes!

When Beatrice does it right, she does it well. Over the years, she has given fashion magazines multiple iconic looks to fawn over. But as personal stylist Melissa Lund told Express, Beatrice would shine "if she paid attention to the seemingly small details which actually make a huge difference." 

The princess is oblivious neither to the ridicule that a single bad outfit can attract nor to the potential she has for upping her game. The watershed moment came in 2011, after Beatrice's extravagantly designed headpiece at her cousin Prince William's wedding popped eyeballs. Yeah, you know the one we're talking about! Though she eventually took it in her stride, the flood of criticism that came Beatrice's way after the hat tragedy prompted her to hire stylist Charlie Anderson for a wardrobe shake-up, who said the backlash was unfair. "I think Beatrice has a good eye; she's been wearing some fabulous pieces over the last few years," she told People.  

A brooch Princess Michael of Kent wore ignited claims of racism

It's one thing to commit an innocent wardrobe malfunction. But to find yourself smack in the middle of a morally questionable fashion faux pas is a whole other ballgame. Princess Michael of Kent, whose husband is a first cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II, was caught in a messy controversy centered around racism after making a poorly judged fashion choice. She stepped out for a Christmas banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2017 sporting a blackamoor brooch on her shoulder. After pictures of the princess' outfit were published by the press, the ornament was deep-focused for social media view and didn't go down well with audiences who criticized the problematic colonial legacy of such accessories. 

As pointed out by House Beautiful, blackamoor art used as jewelry hinges on a stereotypical representation of dark-skinned people. "They might have become synonymous with Old World luxury, but these items exploited servitude as ornamentation," art historian Adrienne L. Childs said.

What seemed most outrageous to many commentators was that the senior royal wore the accessory to an event that also had Meghan Markle in attendance. While a spokesperson for the princess extended her apologies for the brooch, the controversy seemed to come full circle in 2021 when Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey raised allegations of racism against the British royal family

The audience couldn't look away from a hole in Prince William's sole

Like father, like son. Long before his father delighted the world with his hole-in-the-sock gaffe, Prince William had already captured the attention of millions with a hole in his shoe! The senior royal was at the World Economic Forum in 2019, conversing with Britain's beloved Sir David Attenborough about grave issues such as environmental conservation. But the most pressing issue on viewers' minds seemed to be what looked like a hole right through the middle of William's sole. 

The supposed defect in William's shoe was directly in the audience's line of sight since the prince sat with his legs crossed and gave a glorious view of his footwear. As style analyst Stephen Doig has previously told South China Morning Post, most of William's "style highlights are shoe-related," which could be why the faux pas was particularly eye-catching. Social media users didn't lose much time zooming in on the broadcast, only to find themselves confused over what the dark spot on his sole actually was. Was it a hole or just something stuck to his shoe?

Either way, we can all agree that it was a voyeuristically icky moment for people to be examining the dirty underside of William's shoe! But it wasn't the first time. Only a year prior, fans were keenly observing his brother Prince Harry's shoe that flaunted an unfortunate hole at a friend's wedding. Runs in the family, we guess? 

Sarah Ferguson accidentally flashed the public during her Roman holiday

Sarah Ferguson has never been one to shy away from a good, juicy scandal. The Duchess of York — or Fergie, if you're feeling more genial — has shocked as much with her outfits as with her antics over the years. Though her choices have long established her as a royal rebel, there have also been certain inadvertent moments of mishap. Back in 2017, Fergie made headlines from Rome when her dress accidentally affixed to her sleeve. The hem lifted when she raised her arm, revealing far more than she gambled for. The faux pas played out as Fergie left a charity gala party hosted by Sergio Mattarella, the president of Italy. Well, we daresay this misstep ruffled a few feathers in royal quarters!  

When it comes to fashion, audacious publications have held Fergie up as an unconventional style icon, alongside the likes of beloved royal divas like Princesses Diana and Catherine. As celebrity stylist Charlie Anderson told People, Fergie "loves fashion and has strong opinions" about her daughters' wardrobes, too. In fact, there's a mutual exchange of notes on fashion empowerment between Princess Beatrice and her mother.

Fergie recalled to Harper's Bazaar how once, during a moment of insecurity over her figure, Beatrice stepped in and worked with the stylist to figure out a flattering fit for her mom. 

Princess Diana's transparent skirt faux pas attained iconic status

The world typically thinks of Diana Spencer as a trendsetter after she joined (and left) the British royal family. But what many don't know is that she had been a fashion icon prior to officially becoming a princess. Before the revenge dress, there was the see-through skirt. A pursuit of Britain's princess-to-be and a chance sunny backlight in 1980 produced pictures that captured a moment of faux pas that went on to attain an innocent, iconic status — only Lady Di could have pulled that off! In fact, the incident was legendary enough to be reproduced by Emma Corrin in Season 4 of "The Crown." 

As recalled by photographer Arthur Edwards who is credited for Diana's vintage see-through pictures, the 19-year-old was one of the most sought-after figures in the country at the time by virtue of her romance with Prince Charles. Edwards told Today that he tracked Diana down to a preschool in London where she worked and was permitted to click her with some tots from her workplace. "I didn't do it to embarrass her, but it was such a good picture you couldn't not publish it," he explained of the transparent skirt, apparently courtesy of the sun popping out unplanned. Diana was understandably not thrilled at the prospect of being "known as the girlfriend who had no petticoat."