Hollywood's most passionate and intense love story began in 1961 on the set of Cleopatra when screen siren Elizabeth Taylor met her handsome leading man Richard Burton. Despite both being married to other people – she was wed to fourth husband Eddie Fisher, and he was with his first wife Sybil Williams – the couple soon fell in love, and their subsequent affair caused something of a scandal.
After wrapping up filming in June 1962, Elizabeth and Richard were seen holidaying together on the Italian island of Ischia. The following October the beautiful London-born brunette visited her lover in Mexico on the set of his film The Night of the Iguana, bringing along her six-year-old daughter Liza Todd.
Since she was still married to Eddie, Elizabeth and Richard did not have a conventional engagement period, tying the knot just nine days after the actress' divorce came through. But Welsh star Richard did present Elizabeth with a platinum-set Bulgari pendant featuring a 18.61 carat emerald surrounded by diamonds, designed so it could be detached and worn as a brooch.
While Richard was appearing in Hamlet in Toronto, the couple made an unannounced journey to Montreal where they were married in a low-key ceremony on March 15, 1964, in the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Only nine people were in attendance to see the lovers pronounced man and wife, including Richard's best man, Jim Benton. "This marriage will last forever," said the bride, while her husband added: "Elizabeth Burton and I are very, very happy."
Looking every inch a screen goddess, Elizabeth wore an empire-style chiffon gown in daffodil yellow for her wedding to Richard. She finished the look off with the emerald and diamond brooch presented to her by her husband. In her hair, the award-winning star wore lilies of the valley and white hyacinths.
Elizabeth and Richard were married for ten years during which time they were arguably Hollywood's most high-profile couple. Highly passionate, the couple had a famously tempestuous relationship. During their marriage, Richard presented his wife with some of her most famous and expensive jewellery – from the 70-carat flawless pear-shaped diamond ring that was subsequently renamed the Taylor-Burton Diamond, to the 33-carat Krupp jewel she wore in several of her movies. But after years of high living, the couple divorced on June 26, 1974, in Saarinen, Switzerland.
The following year on October 10, only 16 months after getting divorced, the fated couple secretly remarried in Africa. After reconciling in August, they travelled to Johannesburg and then on to Victoria Falls, where they were taken to the Chobe lodge. The private ceremony was conducted by an African district commissioner, Abrose Masalila, and witnessed by the manager of the lodge where they were staying. Elizabeth wore green with lace frills and guinea fowl feathers, while her husband dressed in a red shirt, white trousers and red socks for the simple 20-minute ceremony held in the remote village of Kasane, Botswana.
After exchanging rings, Elizabeth and Richard asked the ceremony officiator to join them for a champagne toast on the banks of the Chobe River. "They looked very excited but composed," said Mr Masalila. "I don't think they had a party afterwards because I think they would have invited me if they had. They are very nice people."
Sadly, things did not work out for the couple, and on July 29, 1976, they divorced for the second time. Elizabeth went on to wed John Warner on December 4, 1976, a marriage that lasted until November 1982, before marrying Larry Fortensky from October 1991 until October 1996. And following his second and final split from Elizabeth, Richard was married to Susan Hunt – 1976 until 1982 – and Sally Hay. He died at his home in Switzerland in August 1984 aged 58.
While Elizabeth and Richard's weddings were not grand affairs, nor did their marriages stand the test of time, to this day theirs is still considered one of Hollywood's most iconic romances.