Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Royal wedding in Berlin


May 24, 1888

Prince Henry of Prussia and Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine were married today at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.

Prince Henry is the second son of the Emperor Friedrich III, and his bride is the third daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.  The young couple are first cousins as their mothers, Victoria and Alice, are sisters.  They also share a common ancestor in Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia.

The guests included the Prince of Wales and the Crown Prince of Greece, "who, according to the Times, failed not to provoke wonders to the truth of the rumour that as one wedding generally begets another, so the Duke of Sparta has fixed his eye as a wooer on a Prussian Princess, who may meanwhile be nameless."

The "loudest and longest" cheering, which, "spontaneously greeted the appearance of the four little laughing, prattling, blonde-haired boys of the Crown Prince."  The eldest, Prince Wilhelm, aged 6, has "already learnt to return public compliments of this kind with a gravity and a dignity that might become a hoary General."

The civil ceremony was performed by the Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode.   Afterwards, the bride and groom and their party made their way to the Schloss Chapel.

Princess Irene's train was born by "noble ladies."  The bridal party was followed by the Household officers,  "first of the bridal pair, and then of their Majesties," followed by about 23 couples of wedding guests, including the Grand Duke of Hesse with Empress Victoria, the Prince of Wales with the Crown Princess, the Crown Prince with Grand Duchess Serge of Russia (sister of the bride), the Crown Prince of Greece with the Hereditary Princess of Saxe-Meiningen, Grand Duke Serge with Princess Louis of Battenberg (eldest sister of the bride),  Prince Albert of Prussia with Prince Friedrick Karl of Prussia,  Prince Wilhelm of Hesse with Prinecss Victoria of Prussia, Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein (brother of the Crown Princess,) with Princess Sophie of Prussia, and "other princely scions of Prussia, Hesse, the Mecklenburgs, Oldenburg, Anhalt, Reuss and Hohenzollern."

The chapel is very small and can seat only 40 or so people. Most of the seats were taken out, and the floor space was converted to standing room for the couples named above, and several government ministers.  The rest of the guests had to remain in ajoining apartment and view the ceremony as "best they might."

Mourning was put aside for the day, as Empress Augusta, sat in a bath chair, "arrayed in her sable widow's weeds, relieved for the occasion by a little white trimming."

The wedding service began with the "organ and choral preludes from Handle and Mendelssohn.  It was a very simple service.   The newly married Prince and Princess Heinrich of Prussia emerged from chapel to the strains of Handel's Hallelujah.  

A reception immediately followed the wedding service.   Unfortunately, Emperor Frederich was unable to attend, and he deputised his elder son, the Crown Prince, "to drink for him to the health of wedding couple."

The wedding began at noon.  By 2 p.m., the reception was over, and the "bridal garters were distributed, among the coveters of such nuptial relics," and by 3 p.m., the newly wedding pair were on their way to spend their honeymoon at Schloss Ermandsdorf in Silesia.

The New York Times reported that the bride "wore a low necked dress, trimmed with large diamonds and a large necklace set with diamonds."  She carried a fan "set with diamonds," and her "breast ornaments , which were diamonds, and her bracelets were all ancient royal jewels."  
Empress Victoria was "dressed in pale green silk, with a plastron of silver brocade and a pale blue silk train. "  She wore a "splendid diadem of diamonds, white feathers, Riviere diamonds on her neck, and carried a bouquet of orchids."

Emperor Friedrich III "felt somewhat fatigued after the wedding," and spent most of the afternoon inside. He did go out for a carriage ride in late afternoon, and retired to bed at 8 p.m.  "The discharge of pus" from his throat "is visibly decreasing."

The royal visitors from Hesse returned to Darmstadt this evening.

2 comments:

Catherine Windels said...

Are those two female guests in mourning that I see?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

perhaps. No idea though