Tiaras, Selfies, and Killer Heels: Meet London's Newest Debutantes
To the uninitiated, these ladies may look like a group of young brides from a world-record-breaking mass wedding. But in fact, they are this year’s crop of debutantes who attended the venerable Queen Charlotte’s Ball in London last weekend. The event was launched in 1780 by King George III and initially served as a platform for aristocratic young women to be formally introduced to high society. The ball declined during the 1960s and was cancelled in 1976, but it was resurrected in 2007 and is now one of the most significant galas of the British social season. While it's open to a wider circle of 17-to-20-year-olds, attendance is still by invitation and includes a year of classes in etiquette, dancing, and charity fundraising, all capped off by one enchanted party held at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Debutante balls, or cotillions, as they are also called, still thrive in some circles in the United States. While they're especially popular in the South, most major cities host the events—generally to raise money for a charity or cultural organization. "The American balls tend to be more democratic than their European counterparts," Marcie Rudell, executive director of the Viennese Opera Ball, tells Yahoo Shine. "Our debutantes don't have to be in the Social Register to feel comfortable." In the past, young women attended these soirées hoping to be "presented" to a suitable husband. And while the balls may be a blowout night of romantic dancing and fairy-tale glamour, Rudell says that today's modern debs form tight friendships with the other attendees, which often lead to career networking in the future. — Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo Shine Staff