On this day in history : 26th April 1923 – The marriage of Prince Albert, Duke of York (to become King George VI) to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later the Queen Mother)….

Prince Albert, ‘Bertie’ to his family, was the second son of King George V and Queen Mary and was second in line to the throne – but was in fact to ascend the throne in 1936 after the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII…. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the ninth of ten children born to Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis and Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck….

The Prince first proposed to Elizabeth in 1921 – but she refused him, thinking royal life was not for her….“afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to”…. After three times of being asked she eventually agreed in January 1923 to become his wife….

Albert, Duke of York with Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – Public domain

The ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey….the first royal wedding to take place at the Abbey since 1383…. The newly formed BBC wanted to record and broadcast the service but was refused permission – The Archbishop of Canterbury expressed concerns that men may listen to it whilst in public houses….

Elizabeth had eight bridesmaids…. Her dress, designed by Madame Handley-Seymour – dressmaker to Queen Mary – was made in a deep ivory chiffon, embroidered with pearls and silver thread…. It had two trains, one flowing from the shoulders, the other attached at the hips…. Although in the fashion of the early 1920s it had a medieval style to it…. She wore no tiara – but a circlet of leaves held her veil in place….

The Duke of York wore the full RAF uniform of a group captain – his rank at the time….

Wedding of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – Public domain

On the way into the Abbey Elizabeth did an unexpected thing…. She laid her bouquet of flowers on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior – in memory of her brother Fergus…. This is something that has now become a tradition with royal brides….only they lay their flowers on the way out after the ceremony….

The wedding rings were made from 22 carat Welsh gold, from the Clogau St. David’s mine in Bontddu – this has also now become a tradition….

After the ceremony the royal couple had a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace…. They then spent part of their honeymoon at Polesdon Lacey – a Manor House in Surrey that now belongs to the National Trust – before travelling to Scotland….


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