On this day in history….20th November 1947

On this day in history : 20th November 1947 – Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten….

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Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten on their wedding day – Fair use

The wedding took place at 10.30am in Westminster Abbey and was officiated by Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury and Cyril Garbett, Archbishop of York…. Princess Elizabeth was the tenth member of the Royal Family to marry in Westminster Abbey – 2,000 guests attended the ceremony and it was broadcast by the BBC to 200 million around the World….

Princess Elizabeth had eight bridesmaids (including her sister HRH Princess Margaret) and two pageboys…. Philip, who had been made Duke of Edinburgh on the morning of the wedding, had his first cousin, David Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven, as his best man…. The wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold….

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The marriage certificate, signed by Philip, Princess Elizabeth, King George VI and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent – General Register Office and participants at the wedding – Public domain

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and the Princess had to use clothing coupons in order to buy it, as rationing was still in place…. Hundreds of well-wishers sent in coupons to the Palace to help – but although the kind gesture was much appreciated all had to be returned – as it would have been illegal to use them….

The dress itself was made from duchess satin; it had a heart shaped neckline, fitted bodice, with a low v-pointed waist – the panelled skirt fell to the floor…. The dress was completed by a 15-foot silk tulle train…. Upon her feet Princess Elizabeth wore ivory duchesse satin high heeled shoes trimmed with silver and pearl buckles….and were designed by Edward Rayne…. Her jewellery consisted of two pearl necklaces; one of which had belonged to the wife of King George II and the other said to have belonged to Anne, the last Stuart Queen…. They were given to Princess Elizabeth by her father as a wedding gift….

The bridal bouquet was of white orchids, with a sprig of myrtle, a tradition started by Queen Victoria…. Afterwards the bouquet was laid upon the tomb of the Unknown Warrior – another Royal tradition….

After the ceremony a wedding breakfast was held in the Ball-Supper Room at Buckingham Palace…. One of the highlights was the wedding cake, made by McVitie and Price – with its four tiers and standing nine feet high….

On this day in history….26th April 1923

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….

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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….

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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….

 

On this day in history….25th January 1858

On this day in history : 25th January 1858 – The marriage of Princess Victoria – eldest daughter of Queen Victoria – and Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia takes place at St. James’s Palace….

Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa was born on the 21st of November 1840 and was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – born nine months after their wedding…. Vicky was christened on their first wedding anniversary and on the 19th of January 1841 she was made ‘Princess Royal’….

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Queen Victoria with the Princess Royal c.1844-45 public domain

Vicky first met her future husband Frederick (Fritz) when she was just 10-years-old….he was approaching 20. Fritz was the son of William of Prussia and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach….and was second inline to the Prussian throne after his father – who was expected to succeed his childless brother….

Vicky and Fritz were introduced when he came to London with his family to visit the Great Exhibition in 1851…. Despite the age difference the pair got on well, although he spoke little English Vicky was fluent in German. She acted as his guide at the Exhibition….

Fritz spent quite a bit of time with the royal family during his four-week stay in England – and once he had returned to Germany began to regularly correspond with Vicky…. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were delighted as they wished to forge a closer alliance with Prussia…. If Vicky and Fritz were to marry two important powers would be united, Britain and Prussia, Germany’s main principality….

In 1855 Fritz visited Vicky and her family at Balmoral Castle….she was 15 by then. Vicky was not a classic beauty – her mother worried Fritz might find her too plain….but there was no need to worry because there was an instant spark between them…. After just three days Fritz asked Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for permission to marry their daughter…. Of course, they were thrilled – but because of Vicky’s young age made the condition that they would have to wait until after her 17th birthday….

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The Princess Royal c.1855 – Public domain

The engagement was publicly announced on the 17th of May 1856…. The news was not generally well-received in either country…. Many in Britain criticised the Kingdom of Prussia for its neutrality during the Crimean War…. Whereas, in Germany there were those of a more conservative mind who wished their Crown Prince to marry a Russian grand duchess – those more liberally minded welcomed a union with the British Crown….

The day of the wedding dawned as a bright, crisp Winter’s day…. After breakfast Queen Victoria invited her daughter to her rooms – and they dressed together and had their hair styled…. Vicky wore a gown of white silk moire over a flounced lace petticoat adorned with wreaths of orange and myrtle blossoms…. A matching wreath held her veil in place and she had white satin ribbons upon her train…. For jewellery she wore diamond earrings, necklace and brooch…. Queen Victoria wore lilac silk moire with a velvet train, her outfit completed with the Crown diamonds….

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Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort and Victoria, Princess Royal in the dress they wore at the marriage of the Princess Royal – 1858 Author: Thomas Richard Williams. (Photographs at the time required the subject to remain absolutely still for up to a minute – something Queen Victoria evidently found difficult – hence her blurred image)

Thousands of people lined the short route of the procession from Buckingham Palace to St. James’s Palace…. They were treated to a delightful spectacle….18 carriages, over 300 soldiers and 220 horses…. In one carriage rode three of her sisters, Alice, Helena and Louise (Beatrice, not yet being a year old, did not attend) and all were dressed in white lace over pink satin…. Another carriage carried her brothers, Bertie, Alfred, Arthur and Leopold, attired in Highland dress….

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Victoria with her sisters, Alice, Louise and Helena. Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1849

To trumpet fanfares and drumrolls the last coach in the procession, carrying Queen Victoria and Vicky, made its way to the Royal Chapel at St. James’s Palace…. There had been some discrepancy as to who should host the wedding – the Germans felt as Fritz was a future Monarch it should take place in Berlin. However, Queen Victoria had other ideas…. “The assumption of it being too much for a Prince Royal of Prussia to come over to marry the Princess Royal of Great Britain in England is too absurd, to say the least…. Whatever may be the usual practice for Prussian Princes, it is not everyday that one marries the eldest daughter of the Queen of England”…. Needless to say, Queen Victoria got her way….

Vicky was escorted down the aisle by her father and Godfather, her great-uncle, Leopold I of the Belgians…. Her groom was waiting for her and wore the dark blue tunic and white trousers of the Prussian Guard and was carrying his shining silver helmet….

It was a romantic wedding, one of love – unlike so many of the arranged royal weddings of the time…. The service was conducted by John Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury – who was so nervous he left several parts out…. Queen Victoria later wrote in her journal that she was pleased “Vicky and Fritz spoke plainly”….

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Victoria’s Wedding by John Phillip – Public domain

After the service the bride and groom walked out of the chapel to Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Although it had been composed 16 years before it was the first time it was played at a royal wedding….and so there after it has become a popular choice at weddings ever since….

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Princess Victoria and Prince Frederick of Prussia 29th January 1858 – Public domain
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Vicky and Fritz 1860s – Public domain