Thursday, January 25, 2018

The marriage of the Princess Royal

January 24, 1858

The Princess Royal was married today to Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia.  The marriage was celebrated in the Chapel at St. James's Palace.  The Times reported that the wedding had all the "splendour of modern state ceremonial."

The day was largely kept as  a "holyday by all classes" in London, and the crowds "that collected in the Park" were larger than expected, but the "place did not allow much outdoor pageantry."

There were transient glimpses of "the Royal Party and foreign guests" was all what the crowd could see but it was enough to "keep those thousands together for many hours."

It was a "good and hearty popular feeling," which certainly was gratifying for all.

St. James's Palace, still "the palace of diplomacy and ceremonial"  has undergone renovation for the wedding, but St. James's is not" as much a residence but a tradition."

Although the "morning was raw and cold"  the crowd began to gather very early and with the "exception of the avenue reserved for the passage of the Royal carriages, " the space was completely filled with well wishers.

As the clock approached noon, the "concourse of spectators was immense."

The bridal procession of 20 carriages, escorted by the Life Guards, left Buckingham Palace just before noon.  The first to leave the Palaces were the coaches carrying the Princess of Prussia, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Princes Friedrich Carl, Friedrich Albrecht and Adalbert of Prussia, the Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the Duke of Brabant and the Count of Flanders and their suites.

After a "short interval," the bridegroom followed in a State Carriage drawn by black horse and escorted by the Life Guards.   He received a "most enthusiastic: welcome from the crowds.

The remaining coaches were occupied by Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, the Princess Royal and other members of the Royal Family.  The Queen and the bride rode together in a carriage "drawn by cream-colored horses"  and the "cheers which greeted their appearance were vehement and prolonged."

At St. James's Palace, the Royal party "alighted under a covered way erected at the private entrance from the garden."  The floral decorations were "marked by exquisite taste."

The Queen was escorted to the Royal Closet, where the walls are covered "with rich embossments in white and gold."   From the Royal Closet, the Princess Royal, accompanied by the Prince Consort and the King of the Belgians, to the Retiring Room.

The Queen's Procession began in the Throne Room, shortly after 12, "the sound of trumpets advancing from the inner apartments", heralding the arrival of the queen.

The Bridegroom's procession followed, again to the sounds of trumpets.   And then it was time for the bride, who "looked pale," but perfectly composed.

The Times' correspondent noted that "in these ceremonies we believe the dress of the Bride ranks only next in importance to the celebration of the service." 

The Princess Royal's  gown "was so thoroughly  in good taste that it is difficult to remark anything, save that it is exquisitely becoming, beautiful, and white.

The wedding gown made by Mrs. Darvill and designed by Miss Janet Fife and  "composed of a rich robe of white moire antique, ornamented with three flounces of Honiton lace."

The lace's design included "bouquets in open work of the rose, shamrock and thistle."   At the top of each flounce on the front of the dress are "wreaths of orange and myrtle blossoms "-- the myrtle is the bridal flower in Germany.

The bridesmaids, all the "personal friends of the bride, carried her "rich train," were dressed in a "gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls."   Their gowns were made from a design from the "illustrious bride."
the bridesmaids

As the Princess Royal made her way toward the aisle, she stopped to make a "deep reverence to her mother," although she was nervous and her face flushed with crimson,"  She turned and rendered the "same homage to the Prince of Prussia."

The bride and groom took their places at the altar, with their "illustrious relatives" standing behind them in a "group of unequaled brilliancy."

Whom God has joined together let no Man put asunder.

The couple, kneeling with all the bridesmaids, received a blessing from the Bishop of London.  The ceremony ended with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.  The newly weds processed out of the chapel to Mendelssohn's Wedding March.

The new bride, "giving vent to her evidently pent-up feelings, turned and flung herself upon her mother's bosom with a suddenness and a depth of feeling that thrilled every heart."

One can wonder how the young Victoria felt, knowing at age 17, she was leaving her home forever and travel to begin a new life with her husband in a new country.

Queen Victoria tried to "conceal her emotion," but found it impossible to do so. 

Prince Friedrich Wilhelm tried to comfort his new wife, but she pulled away, "tears now plainly stealing down her cheeks," as she threw herself into the arms of her father,   The bridegroom was embraced by his mother in a "manner that evinced all that only a mother's love can show."

But the most affectionate greeting was between the bridegroom and his father, the latter "overpowered with emotion.   There  were also embraces between the Queen and the Prince Consort and the Prince and Princess of Prussia.  The Princess Royal regained her composure, only to lose it again when she was embraced by her younger siblings.

The procession proceeded to the Throne Room where the register was signed.

The Queen and the Prince Consort, the Prince and Princess Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, with members of the Royal Family  the foreign royal guests, returned to Buckingham Palace for the wedding breakfast.
The bride's threes sisters.  Only the youngest sister, Princess Beatrice,  was not at the wedding. She was nine months old at the time.

The guests at the reception included the Queen and the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, Princess Alice, Princess Helena, Princess Louise, the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the Duke of Cambridge, the King of the Belgians, the Duke of Brabant, the Count of Flanders, Prince and Princess Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, the Prince and Princess of Prussia, Prince Friedrich Carl of Prussia, Prince Friedrich Albrecht of Prussia, Prince Adalbert of Prussia, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Duchess of Orleans, the Count of Paris, the Duke of Chartres,  Princess de Salerno, the Duke and Duchess of Aumale, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenbach and the Countess of Dornburg, the Prince of Leiningen, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Prince Julius of Holstein-Glücksburg.

At 5:25 p.m., the bride and groom left Buckingham Palace in a state carriage, escorted by the Life Guards, for the Great Western Railway at Paddington.  The newly weds traveled to Windsor Castle for their wedding night.

In the evening at Buckingham Palace, the Queen gave a State Concert in honor of the wedding. 

Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar was the first cousin of the Princess of Prussia (nee Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar), and the nephew of the late Queen Adelaide, consort of Wilhelm IV.  He was born at Bushy Heath in 1823 and served in the British military.  In 1851, he married Lady Augusta Gordon-Lennox, daughter of the 6th Duke of Richmond.  She was created Countess of Dornburg the day before her wedding by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, although she would later be styled as Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar.   Her youngest sister, Lady Cecilia, was one of the Princess Royal's bridesmaids.

The Prince of Leiningen was Victoria's nephew, the eldest son of her late half-brother, Carl.   Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg was the Queen's half nephew, the third son of her older half sister, Princess Feodora, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Prince Julius of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was the eighth of ten children of Duke Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel, who was a first cousin of the Duchess of Cambridge.  The Duchess' niece, Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel, was married to Prince Julius's older brother, Prince Christian, heir to the Danish throne since 1852.

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