Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Duke of York weds "Simple Scots Maid"

both images Marlene A Eilers Koenig collection

April 26, 1923

The ceremony for today's royal wedding "was magnificent, but it was performed with absolute simplicity."   Prince Albert, Duke of York, second son of King George V, "took as his bride" Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, reports the New York Times.

The Archbishop of York's address to the bride and bridegroom as "man and maid" helped develop "the deep personal feelings it awakened in those who were nearest to them."  The King and Queen "followed with closest attention every word of the pair as they plighted their troth."  Lady Elizabeth seemed "almost overwhelmed by all that her marriage to a royal prince meant to her."

The young Lady Elizabeth seemed frightened and nervous as she left her father's house and approached the royal coach, "with its gilded trappings."  She paused, "half frightened," as she heard the "great shout of greeting" from the crowd.  She seemed "a very nervous girl who bowed shyly as she passed through the crowds that lined the way to the Abbey."

It was a very different scene on the way back from the Abbey.  The new Duchess of York was a "very happy bride, smiling her thanks for the cheers" and "turning every minute to speak to her husband at her side."

The new bride "was merely a commoner" when she entered the Abbey, and emerged as a Royal Duchess, and at the wedding breakfast "haled by the King as a Princess."   But it was as 'Lady Betty' that "she won the hearts of the English people."

Members of the Royal Family began to arrive at the Abbey at 11:00 a.m., and were taken to their places within the sacrarium.  Two of the senior Princesses "stopped to have a quiet chat with the bridesmaids," who included the Hon. Elizabeth Elphinstone, the Hon. Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, Lady May Cambridge, Lady Mary Cambridge, Lady Mary Thynne, Lady Katherine Hamilton, Miss Betty Cator (whose father is the High Sheriff of Norfolk) and the Hon, Diamond Harding.

The young bridesmaids gathered at the great west door of the nave, dressed in white chiffon frocks with silver leaf embroideries on "around the waist and on the sleeves, green silk net sashes, knotted on the left side of the skirt, wreaths of myrtle leaves tipped with pale gold and with bunches of white York roses."

The congregation stood up as the royal procession moved slowly up the nave as the organist played Elgar's Imperial March.  First came the court officials, gentlemen ushers, Controller and Treasurer of the King's Household, followed by "minor royals" and two couples, who were also recently married at the Abbey, Captain and the Lady Patricia Ramsay and Viscount Lascelles and Princess Mary.

Wearing his midshipman's uniform, Prince George walked between his grandmother, Queen Mother Alexandra, and her sister, Marie, Dowager Empress of Russia.  Both walked feebly, and "it was noted with what care Prince George assisted his grandmother" up the sanctuary stairs."

Due to the strict etiquette, Princess Mary and Lady Patricia (nee Princess Patricia of Connaught) sat in the front row), but their husbands sat behind them. 

The bridegroom, the Duke of York, and his two supporters, the Prince of Wales and Prince Henry.  They traveled from Buckingham Palace  "in a royal coach with an escort of Life Guards,"  The Duke was dressed in the light blue uniform of the Royal Air Force.  He currently holds the rank of Group Captain.

Lady Elizabeth was the last to arrive.   Crowds along the route were able to "catch a glimpse of a slim, pale girl, all in white."  They cheered enthusiastically as the carriage rolled by.  The young bride appeared timid, and bowed to the crowd.  She was "grateful" for their cheers, but also she was very nervous.

She had a "real ordeal before her."  Lady Elizabeth had to walk up the aisle of the abbey "under the eyes of hundreds of curious  people to a spot of golden light" where her future husband awaited her.   Much to her embarrassment, Lady Elizabeth arrived two minutes too early, and had to wait outside until the Duke of York's procession reached the sacrarium.  

The Dean of Westminster met the young couple at the altar, to begin the service as the "pomp and circumstance seemed to fade away."  The King and Queen had become proud parents as they watched their second son marry.

The sun did not come out until Lady Elizabeth entered the Abbey.  After the vows were made and the Duke placed the ring on his bride's finger, the couple were pronounced man and wife.  The Dean of Westminster gave his blessing, and the Archbishop of York  began his address

The final blessing was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  As the National Anthem was played, the newlyweds and their families proceeded behind the Altar to the Chapel of Edward the Confessor to sign the register.

The newlyweds emerged from the Abbey as the Duke and Duchess of York.  They returned to Buckingham Palace for a wedding breakfast and an appearance on the balcony, where they were joined by Queen Alexandra, King George V and Queen Mary and other members of the Royal family.  There were also great cheers for the Prince of Wales, who remains unmarried.

The Members of the Royal Family who were present for the wedding:  King George V and Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra, accompanied by Princess Victoria and the Empress Marie of Russia, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles, and Viscount Lascelles, Prince Henry, Prince George, the Princess Royal and Princess Maud, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Princess Christian, accompanied by Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise, the Duke of Connaught, Captain the Hon, Alexander Ramsay and Lady Patricia Ramsay, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and the Earl of Athlone, the Marquess and Marchioness of Cambridge, the Marquess and Marchioness of Carisbrooke, Lady Louise Mountbatten,  and the Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia.

Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught and Princess Beatrice did not attend the wedding.  Princess Beatrice, the youngest of Queen Victoria's surviving children, was in France taking a three-week cure.

Apart from the Dowager Empress of Russia and her daughter, Grand Duchess Xenia, who lives in England, no foreign royals were invited to the wedding.

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