Guest Post by Caroline Hurley of Caroline Covets
Caroline talks royal wedding tradition and features some classic royal weddings below!
Royal weddings are – according to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1981 – “the stuff of which fairytales are made.” There is something so magical about seeing a prince and princess marry in pomp and circumstance. One of the reasons that the world is so captivated by royal weddings is due to the traditions – many of which were established when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.
These traditions include the following:
1. Queen’s Consent – The Succession Crown Act of 2013 dictates that the first six royals in line for the British throne must obtain the Queen’s permission to marry. With Harry now sixth in line behind Prince Louis of Cambridge he had to ask his grandmother’s position to marry Meghan. The Queen officially gave her formal blessing of the union in a letter she released on March 14th. Also, since the groom is of royal blood the royal family must sit on the right side of the church.
2. Welsh Gold Wedding Band – The Welsh Gold wedding tradition began in 1923 when the Queen Mother used a nugget of gold from the now closed Clogau St. David’s mine from North Wales. Wedding bands were crafted from this same nugget of gold for the Queen, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. Since the gold from this nugget was nearly depleted when Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011 she received a band from a different Welsh gold nugget from the royal family’s Welsh gold collection. Meghan’s engagement ring will complement her Welsh gold band well.
3. A Sprig of Myrtle in the Bridal Bouquet- Myrtle symbolizes good fortune in love and marriage and is known as the herb of love. Myrtle was planted by Queen Victoria in her garden at Osborne House on the Isle of Wright after her husband’s grandmother gifted her with myrtle for her bridal bouquet in February 1840. A sprig of myrtle from this same plant from 1845 has been used in the Queen’s, Princess Diana’s and Duchess Kate’s bridal bouquets and it is expected Meghan will carry on the tradition.
4. Tomb of the Unknown Warrior – The Queen Mother wanted to honor her brother who died during WWI on her wedding day, so she laid her bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. Royal brides have followed suit – even if they weren’t married at Westminster Abbey – as a way to pay tribute to the Queen Mother and to all those who have fallen on behalf of the United Kingdom. Here is Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet on display in the abbey following her wedding on April 29, 2011.
5. Fruitcake – The royal wedding cake of choice has been fruitcake dating back to Victoria and Albert’s nuptials. Charles and Diana, Andrew and Sarah (Fergie), and William and Kate have all followed royal tradition and served it at their wedding breakfasts. It symbolizes wealth and prosperity due to its intricate ingredients of dried fruits, spices, alcohol and more. The cakes have all been very grand (William and Kate’s cake featured 8 tiers), as they have to serve so many guests and showcase the vastness of the British Empire. Harry and Meghan will be changing tradition, as they will be having a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream frosting.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha were married on February 10, 1840. Victoria popularized the white wedding gown, as she thought it was the best color to highlight the lace on her gown which featured an 18-foot-long train.
Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI) and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the future Queen Mother) were married on April 26, 1923 at Westminster Abbey. The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and Welsh gold wedding band traditions started with this royal wedding.
Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh were married on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey. A fun fact is that she required ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress made by Norman Hartnell.
Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer (future Princess of Wales) were married on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The wedding of the century was “the stuff of which fairytales are made” – oh how this would unravel in the years to come – but on that day it was the royal family at its finest and the world truly thought it was a fairytale. 3,500 guests filled the cathedral. Diana’s iconic dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel featured a 25-foot train. The day was sealed with a kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
Prince William of Wales (the future Duke of Cambridge) and Catherine Middleton (the future Duchess of Cambridge) were married on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey. Kate dazzled in an Alexander McQueen gown with a Cartier Halo tiara alongside her prince in his Welsh Guards uniform. The English commoner had found her prince and the world was thrilled to see this royal love story on display. After two kisses on the Buckingham Palace balcony, the newlyweds drove to Clarence House in Prince Charles’ Aston Martin to rest before their evening reception at Buckingham Palace. Kate wore another Alexander McQueen gown and she and William danced well into the night with their family and friends.
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones on June 19, 1999
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly on May 17, 2008
Zara Phillips and Mike Tyndall on July 30, 2011