So Prince Harry is to marry. What a great time for the couple and their families. As all the planning begins, the decisions over who will do what and who will be invited, it got me thinking about past royal marriages and how they differ from now.
The last time the fifth in line to the throne married was in 1935 when Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester. He was the fourth child and third son of King George V and Mary of Teck. (He was proceeded in the line of succession by his brothers Edward, later King Edward VIII, Albert, later King George VI and Albert’s daughters Princess Elizabeth, our current Queen and Princess Margaret). He was married on the 6th November in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace to Lady Alice Montagu – Douglas – Scott the daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch and Lady Margaret Bridgeman.
But how have royal marriages changed over the centuries especially in the venues they used. Let’s consider the different locations that have been used going back approximately 100 years at a time.
On the 28th February 1922 Princess Mary (Victoria), the daughter of King George V and Mary of Teck married in Westminster Abbey. She married Viscount Henry Lascelles, the son of the Earl of Harewood and Lady Florence Bridgeman. He would later become the 6th Earl of Harewood. Being married in Westminster Abbey indicates a grand wedding along the lines of today’s royal weddings.
On the 2nd May 1816 Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the daughter of the Prince of Wales, later King George IV and Caroline of Brunswick, married at Carlton House in London Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, later King Leopold I of Belgium. He was the son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and Countess Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf. This wedding although definately grand, was held in the home of her father, not one of the great churches as would have been expected as the second in line to the throne.
In August or September 1705 in Hanover Germany George the son of George Louis, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later King George I of Great Britain), and his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, married Caroline of Ansback, the daughter of John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, and his second wife, Princess Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach. The marriage took place in a chapel at the Palace of Herrenhausen, Hanover, Germany.
On the 14 February 1613 at the Chapel Royal at Whitehall Palace, London Princess Elizabeth the daughter of King James I/VI and Anne of Denmark married Frederick V Elector Palatine of the Rhine, later King of Bohemia. He was the son of Frederick IV Electoral Palatinate and Louise Juliana of Nassau. The chapel royal is the for the reigning monarchs use.
On the 11th June 1509 King Henry VIII ( the son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York)married for the first time. He was married in a low key ceremony (Henry’s father had died only months earlier) at the church of the Observant Friars in Greenwich. He married the widow of his elder brother Katherine of Aragon the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.
As a side just to show the nature of the rest of Henry’s marriages, they were as follows
Marriage 2. 25 January 1533 at York Place, London (York Place was the Kings main residence in London) to Anne Boleyn the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond, and Lady Elizabeth Howard.
Marriage 3. 30 May 1536 at Whitehall Palace, London to Jane Seymour the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth.
Marriage 4. 6 January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, London to Anne of Cleves, the daughter of John III of the House of La Marck, Duke of Jülich, Cleves, Berg, Count of Mark and Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg.
Marriage 5. 28 July 1540 at Oatlands Palace, Surrey (a former site of a monastery) to Katherine Howard the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper.
Marriage 6. 12 July 1543 at Hampton Court Palace, to Katherine Parr the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green.
In 1423 John of Lancaster the son of King Henry IV and Mary de Bohun and brother of King Henry V married at the Cathedral of Troyes in France. He married Anne of Burgundy the daughter of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Margaret of Bavaria.
In 1308 King Edward II, the son of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile married in Bolougne Cathedral, France, to Isabella of France. She was the daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre.
On the 24th August 1200 King John married for the second time. He was the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He married at Bordeaux Cathedral in France to Isabella of Angouleme the daughter of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême and Alice of Courtenay.
In January 1114 at Worms in Germany Princess Matilda, later Empress Matilda (or Maude) the daughter of King Henry I and Matilda of Scotland married Henry V, Emperor of Germany, the son of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Bertha of Savoy.
So as can be seen some weddings have been grand lavish affairs in the cathedrals of the lands and some have been in private with few witnesses. It seems no matter what a person’s station in life, be it a member of the royal family or your own ancestors they are all family events which are meant to be celebrated.