5 April Royal Brides
It's the start of wedding season. While the summer months of June and July might welcome the most brides and May has a certain traditional ring about it, there are plenty of troths being plighted once the days lengthen and the sun shines more brightly in April. And royal brides are no different. April brings regal weddings aplenty so here is a look back at five times we celebrated the joy of royal brides on their special days.
Princess Irene Emma Elisabeth of the Netherlands, April 29th 1964
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, April 29th 2011
The most famous royal wedding of recent years saw Kate Middleton become an April bride. The love story of William and Kate is well known from the meeting at St Andrews University to the engagement in Africa. From the moment that Kate walked into the spotlight wearing Diana's famous ring, royal wedding mania took hold and by the time she arrived at Westminster Abbey to say 'I do' there were tens of millions watching and enjoying around the world. The dress, the flowers and the kiss all became instant legends and in a few weeks' time the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.
(photo Defence Images)
Mabel Martine Wisse Smit, April 24th 2004
Mabel Wisse Smit was a controversial royal bride before she even stepped out of the car that carried her to her wedding to Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands in April 2004. Dutch royals need the permission of parliament to marry but politicians refused to grant it after claiming that the couple hadn't disclosed all the information they should about her past contacts with a drugs lord. The couple said they would marry anyway and said 'I do' in Delft on April 24th 2004. The bride became Princess Mabel and a member of the Dutch Royal Family but not the Dutch Royal House while her new husband had to give up his rights to the throne after failing to win parliament's approval. The couple's two daughters were also excluded from the succession. They were a happy family but sadness came in 2012 when Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche while ski-ing. He died as a result of the accident in August 2013.
Claire Louise Coombs, April 12th 2003
Claire Coombs was born in Bath and raised in Belgium but when she married that country's king's youngest son in 2003 the headlines were still about his British bride. And despite her groom, Prince Laurent, being the baby of this royal family there was still a regal turnout for this April wedding which had plenty of spring sunshine to add a glow to proceedings. The couple said 'I do' at Brussels Town Hall and at the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula in the Belgian capital before sharing a kiss before the crowds. They went on to have a daughter and twin sons.
This April Royal Wedding was about as controversial as they came. Princess Irene, second in line to the throne of the Netherlands, caused a huge storm when she decided to marry Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma and the row got so big that none of her relatives attended their wedding at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome on April 29th 1964. There were several reasons for the disputes. Princess Irene had surprised just about everyone by converting to Catholicism and her claims that this was to help end religious differences weren't well received. Her husband was also trying to restore the throne of Spain for him and his family but as Dutch royalty wasn't meant to get involved in foreign politics, Irene's decision to support his actions caused more controversy. Irene's marriage went ahead without any of her family present and she gave up her rights to the throne. She and her husband had four children together but divorced in 1981.
Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, April 26th 1923
This April royal bride went on to be a queen, an empress (briefly) and the mother of the longest reigning British monarch of all time. The moment she said 'I do' has real historical significance. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the daughter of a Scottish Earl and famously turned down her royal suitor, Albert, Duke of York and second son of George V and Queen Mary twice before accepting his proposal. While she went on to be the bedrock of the British Royal Family and all its traditions, her wedding was rather modern. Her dress was about as on trend as they came, she didn't wear a tiara and she placed her flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as she entered Westminster Abbey on her wedding day in memory of her brother, Fergus, who had died in World War One. Every royal bride since has followed her lead. This April bride became one of the most famous royals of all time.