Monday, August 12, 2013

A Wedding Portrait

Wedding of Edward, Prince of Wales and
Princess Alexandra of Denmark, by
William Powell Frith, 1878.
From the BBC website.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert begun their search for a bride for Edward, Prince of Wales in 1858. They believe that an early marriage to "Bertie" would settle their 'difficult' son. But the bride should not be a Roman Catholic and preferable, a German. So they enlisted the help of their daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, recently married to the heir of the Prussian throne to draw up a list of eligible princesses in Europe.

Alexandra was only 13 at that time, and being a Danish, she was not their first choice. Queen Victoria also did not like the princess's family - she thought them to be "flighty". However, Alexandra was exceedingly beautiful, charming and devout. Vicky was very delighted of her, writing to the Queen that "Alix" was "a sweet creature", and after further reports about Alexandra's good looks and general demeanor, the Queen became convince that she was "a pearl not to be lost" and the perfect bride for the Prince.

The Princess Royal arranged the meeting between the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra at Speyer in 1861. Bertie thought Alexandra "charming and pretty", but it took a year (after his affair with an actress) before he proposed to her on their second meeting which took place at the Palace of Laeken in Belgium. She accepted, to the clear delight of the Prince: "I really don't know whether I am on my head or my heels," he told the Queen.

The wedding was supposed to take place in London in the summer of 1863, but the Prince did not wish to wait that long. The Queen was against a May wedding, considering it an unlucky month to get married. April was reserved for the birth of the Queen's grandchild, and so they settled on March. The Prince of Wales and Alexandra were married on March 10, 1863 at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. The groom was resplendent in his general's uniform and the Garter robes, while the bride was lovely in her satin and Honiton lace dress decorated with garlands.

The Queen, still in deepest mourning after the death of Prince Albert did not want a public wedding and female guests could only wear secondary mourning colors like grey, lilac or mauve. Few days after the wedding, the couple set out for their honeymoon at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

Throughout her life in Britain, Alexandra was a popular and well-loved consort. Her popularity did so much to also increase the monarchy's popularity and she gave shine and glamour to the gloomy atmosphere that pervaded the court since Prince Albert's death.


Susan Davies said...

Lovely portrait of Bertie and Alix! :)

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