October 24, 1931
Lady May Helen Emma Cambridge, the only daughter of the Earl of Athlone and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, was married today to Captain Henry Abel Smith, of the Royal Horse Guards, reports the New York Times.
The wedding took place in the "ancient church" at Balcombe, a tiny Sussex village. Queen Mary arrived with her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, who was once reported engaged to Lady May. This alliance seemed a bit far fetched as Lady May and the Prince of Wales are first cousins.
The Duke and Duchess of York were also at the wedding to see their 5 1/2 year old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, make her debut as a bridesmaid. Prince George and the Duke of Gloucester also attended the wedding. Other royal guests includes Princess Victoria, Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught, the Marquess and Marchioness of Carisbrooke, Marquess and Marquess of Cambridge, Lord Frederick Cambridge, Duchess of Beaufort, Hereditary Prince Gustaf of Adolf, the older brother of Princess Ingrid, accompanied his sister to London from Sweden. Princess Helena Victoria and Princess Marie Louise, Rear-Admiral the Hon. Alexander Ramsay and Lady Patricia Ramsay, and Lord Carnegie and Lady Maud Carnegie also received invitations and were present.
The wedding ceremony was performed by Archbishop William Carter, formerly the Archbishop of Capetown, who is a family friend of the bride and her parents. He was assisted by the Bishop of Chichester and other clergymen.
She was attended by nine bridesmaids including the young Princess Elizabeth, Princess Ingrid of Sweden, Lady Mary Cambridge, Miss Jennifer Bevan, Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Hon. Imogen Rhys, Miss Kathleen Alington, Miss Verene Seymour, Moss Phyllis Seymour Holm and Miss Wenefryde Tabor, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who is a first cousin of the bride. Princess Ingrid's mother, the late Princess Margaret of Connaught, and Princess Alice, the bride's mother, were first cousins.
The revised wedding service was used, thus omitting the word obey. Lady May and her parents were consulted by the Archbishop about this decision. Lady May is the first British royal bride to not make the promise to obey at the altar.
The bride arrived to a "fanfare of trumpets. She stepped out of the car, "radiant in soft-clinging robes of antique white satin, wearing the exquisite Brussels lace veil that was worn by Queen Mary and by the bride's mother at their own weddings." The veil "fell from a double wreath of orange blossoms. Her bouquet of lilies of the valley included sprigs of myrtle from the bush that had supplied bouquets for royal brides since Queen Victoria's time.
The bridesmaids wore "long blue velvet gowns and carried anemones." They wore crystal necklaces, gifts of the bridegroom.
The choirs of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and the village church sang as Lady May was escorted down the aisle, joining her "tall, soldierly bridegroom" at the altar.
The reception was held at Lady May's parents home, Brantridge Park, where she used her husband's sword to cut the "eighty pound three-tiered wedding cake decorated with hunting scenes and figures of the Royal Horse Guards." The Times reported that the reception had a "spirit of informality. The Prince of Wales proposed the toast with a "few charming words."
Captain Abel Smith is 32 years old. He is seven years older than his bride. They first when he served as an aide to Lord Athlone, when he was Governor General of South Africa.
The bride and groom left by car for Didlington Hall, Norfolk, where they will spend part of their honeymoon. Later they intend to travel to Ireland for "some hunting.
The young golden-haired Princess Elizabeth is said to have stolen the show at the wedding. Possibly one day she could become Queen.