Friday, September 25, 2009

Julia Grant's wedding

September 25, 1899

Police had to keep back the crowds from the canopied entrance to All Saints' Memorial Chapel in Newport, Rhode Island, today as Miss Julia Grant, daughter of Brig. General and Mrs. Frederick Dent Grant, married Prince Michael Cantacuzene, Count Speransky. The New York Times reports that "curious spectators were out in large numbers, and the police had difficulty in maintaining crowd control.

The bridal party arrived shortly before noon and entered the chapel. It was very warm inside, and "several ladies came near fainting." The doors of the church were kept open in order to maintain a flow of air.

This is a grand and brilliant occasion for the "Summer colony" at Newport, as members of prominent families who live in Newport for the summer, joined heads of the army at the wedding of late President Ulysses S. Grant's granddaughter.

The bridegroom and his best man waited at the altar, and were preceded by eight ushers. The bride was escorted down the aisle by her brother, Ulysses Grant III.
The service was conducted according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Julia "looked stately and handsome and was perfectly at home throughout the ceremony." She were a "severely cut gown," which was of a simple design. The gown was of "rich white satin, with a sweeping train, and very long white tulle veil." The veil was held in place by a wreath of real orange blossoms. The bride carried a bouquet of lilies and stephanotis, and she "wore the ornamental gifts of the bridegroom, corsage ornaments of diamonds and enamel, with a rope of pearls." This was the second wedding for the couple. Last night they were wed in a private Russian Orthodox service at Beaulieu, which was attended by close family and friends.

A breakfast reception was held at Beaulieu, the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, the bride's aunt and uncle. The newly married Prince and Princess Cantacuzens "received the congratulations of their relatives and friends." During the meal, toasts were made to the Prince and his "charming wife." Everyone stood and drank to the health of the bride's father, Brig. Gen. Grant, who is in the Far East.

Flags of the United States and Russia were on prominent display on the cliff side of the cottage. One of the Prince's relatives sent the Russian flag.

The bride's engagement ring "consists of a large emerald set in a string of brilliant diamonds." The ring was made in Russia. The groom gave his bride "a diamond pendant worn from a string of pearls around the neck." The Prince's family sent to his bride "a number of the most valuable pieces of the family jewelry."

The bride and groom received many cablegrams and telegrams of congratulations, including one from President McKinley. Perhaps the most treasured of the telegrams was the one sent from the Philippines from Julia's father.

The wedding gifts will be "carefully packed" and be shipped to Odessa tomorrow.

The Prince and Princess left Beaulieu at 4 p.m., for New York City, where they will stay the Waldorf=Astoria for several days. The carriage "was placarded with a sign" that read "Off to Russia." The young couple were given a "hearty send-off with a shower of rice and a few old shoes."

The new princess's traveling dress was of "dark blue cloth trimmed with white, with a close-fitting jacket to match." She also wore a large hat.
It is understood that Mrs. Potter Palmer will visit the prince and princess during the winter in St. Petersburg. The bride's mother will also be spending a "portion of the Winter" with her daughter and son-in-law in St. Petersburg. Next summer, the prince and princess will spend the summer at Beaulieu with the Potter Palmers.

Prince Michael Cantacuzene has homes in Odessa and St. Petersburg.

Julia Dent Grant was born on June 6, 1876 at the White House. She was the eldest child of Frederick Dent Grant and his wife, Ida Honoré, a Chicago real estate heiress. President Benjamin Harrison named Julia's father as Ambassador to Austria Hungary, a position Grant held until 1893. Julia made her formal debut into society in Vienna. Julia and her aunt, Bertha (Mrs. Palmer Potter) spent some time traveling throughout Europe after her parents had returned to the United States, It was in Rome, where Julia and Prince Michael first met. Prince Michael was attached to the Russian embassy in Rome. He had earlier served as Russia's representative to the United States.

Two weeks after meeting Julia Grant, Prince Michael followed her to Cannes. He proposed to her after only two days of courtship. The marriage took place four months later.

Beaulieu was owned by the Astors and rented to the Potter Palmers for several years.

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Unknown said...

Do you know where the original of that wedding group portrait is?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

No idea. Prints were very different in 1899/