Amidst all the rows about who will and won't be invited to the Royal Wedding on May 19th 2018 are lots of discussions about protocol, past practice and precedent. But if there's one thing you can expect from a royal wedding - apart from a big white dress, a sparkling tiara and at least one guest dressed in what looks like a Quality Street wrapper - it's a surprise or three. Rewind to February 1968 and the photo album of the wedding of Princess Benedikte of Denmark and Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and you might well be shocked to see a former empress sitting in the front row. After all, Benedikte was very much the spare in this royal family and yet she counted on the presence of a very royal guest - Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
There was a very simple reason. The Queen Mum was Benedikte's godmother. She'd stood sponsor alongside a rather regal line up that also included the baby's paternal grandparents, King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine of Denmark and King Gustav V of Sweden. Benedikte was baptised on May 24th 1944 when the Queen Mum was still Empress of India not that this Elizabeth was ever so grand to remind people of her station in life.......however, it meant that when Benedikte wed in 1968 she could count on a glittering guest list that competed and then some with the buffet queue at her siblings' marriages.
For Benedikte was a bit of a catch up royal bride. She announced her engagement just before her big sister, Margrethe, shared her own betrothal news but because Daisy was going to be queen, her royal wedding came first. And both of them had already seen their little sister, Anne Marie, become a queen consort on the day she wed King Constantine of Greece. Benedikte's wedding, on February 3rd 1968, was smaller than her siblings' ceremonies but thanks to her fabulous font crew, she had plenty of regal punch on the guest list. So don't write off Harry and Meghan's gathering as less than glittering just yet. And with uncle Andrew, Duke of York, as one of Hazza's godparents, there's a very good chance that Fergie will be invited, too (besides, not having her along would look really rather petty given that she'll be walking into the same chapel as mother of the bride just months later). The history of royal weddings tells us that if we should expect one thing, it's always the unexpected.
Photo credit: Wiki Commons