Saturday, 10 February 2018

Royal Wedding: Victoria and Albert

It's one of the most famous royal weddings of all time and it took place #otd in 1840. Queen Victoria, the young monarch who had already shown she knew what she wanted and how to get it, wed her first cousin and one true love, Prince Albert, in a marriage that would make history. Here's what you need to know about this very royal wedding.

The Happy Couple

Queen Victoria, was almost three years into her reign when she wed her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Both bride and groom were just twenty years old. They had first met in 1836 and got along rather well. A second encounter in 1839 led to Victoria proposing, as protocol demanded, within days.

.....and their royal families

Alexandrina Victoria was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent (who had died in 1820, before her first birthday) and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld who ended up dominating her child until she turned eighteen. Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel was the younger son of the older Victoria's big brother, Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. The happy couple shared a very royal uncle, too - King Leopold I of the Belgians who had also been a bit of a matchmaker for the pair, having pulled several strings to arrange the 1836 meeting which proved so fateful.

The Royal Wedding

The big day itself was February 10th 1840 with the couple choosing to say 'I do' at the Chapel Royal, St. James' Palace. The ceremony started at 1pm with the groom arriving just before the bride to the sounds of ''See, the conquering hero comes'' - no second place for this handsome prince. Victoria's entrance was no less spectacular - huge crowds turned out to see her on the carriage ride from her new home at Buckingham Palace to the wedding celebrations.

The Bridal Party

Victoria famously made white the wedding colour every bride wanted to wear but the political significance of the dress was even more noted at the time. As a young queen with a deep interest in her role, Victoria chose two fabrics for her gown that would boost local economies that really needed help. The cream satin was woven in Spitalfields in London while the lace which became this frock's most famous part was made in Honiton, Devon. Both areas got a big boost from their royal wedding associations.  Victoria had twelve bridesmaids in attendance and they had their hands full - this royal wedding dress had a train measuring 18 feet.

Prince Albert, meanwhile, wore the uniform of a British Field Marshall and turned up to his royal wedding with an escort of life guards. 

Happy ever after?

Of course. Victoria and Albert ended up as one of the most well known royal love matches of all time. They were devoted to one another during their married life and Albert became one of Victoria's closest advisers. They had nine children and 42 grandchildren who went on to marry into so many royal dynasties across Europe that their descendants can be found just about anywhere regal these days. Albert died in December 1861 leaving his wife devastated and wearing black for pretty much the rest of her life. But their love story was a big part of the hugely successful reign of Victoria and it all began, on this day, in 1840.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons

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