Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Royal Wedding

Unless you happen to have been living on Mars for the last few months you will no doubt be aware of the forthcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton next week.

Of course, this is certainly not the first Royal wedding and back in March 1863 one took place which brought the town of Gravesend, Kent to the attention of the world.

The wedding was between Prince Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and later King Edward VII, and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

To the consternation of Queen Victoria, Prince Edward was a playboy and lady's man (he had a string of mistresses during his lifetime). This was deemed inappropriate behaviour for the heir to the throne and it was decided to arrange a suitable marriage.

Prince Edward's sister Princess Victoria of Prussia was given the role of matchmaker and eventually nineteen year old "minor" royal Princess Alexandra was selected as a suitable bride. The wedding date was set for the 10th March 1863.

Preparations for the royal wedding were meticulous and said to have cost over a million pounds - a small fortune at the time. The nation and the Royal family had been in deep mourning for many years following the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert from typhoid and the wedding was seen as chance to finally move on.

On 28th February, the "Rose of Denmark" as Alexandra was popularly known, began her long journey to England. She left Copenhagen and proceeded to the port of Korsor where she boarded the Danish royal yacht Slesvig for the voyage to Hamburg. From there she passed through Hanover, Cologne and Brussels before arriving at the port of Antwerp.

On 5th March, Princess Alexandra boarded the British royal yacht Victoria and Albert for the voyage to Gravesend. The yacht was accompanied by a squadron of Royal Navy warships decked overall in bunting and flags and firing a twenty one gun salute.

On the morning of the 7th March the royal party reached the Kent coast. Guns were fired in welcome and local dignitaries from Margate sent by boat to greet the Princess. The Victoria and Albert proceeded into the Thames Estuary accompanied by a large flotilla of pleasure boats packed with well wishers.

The banks of the Thames were lined with spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the Princess. At 1120 in the morning on the 7th March the Victoria and Albert came safely alongside at the Terrace Pier, Gravesend to tumultuous applause from the gathered crowds.

At considerable expense the town corporation appointed a professional decorator to plan and co-ordinate the flags and bunting on the nearby houses. Stands for up to 1200 people were built at the pier entrance and garlanded arches erected every forty feet along the route of the royal procession through the town to Gravesend railway station.

At the same time the Victoria and Albert was making fast at the pier Prince Albert's royal train arrived at the station. The Prince was driven by carriage to the pier and went aboard to meet his future bride who incidentally he had only met a handful of times previously. The Prince is said to have kissed the Princess before disembarking.

The couple were greeted by the Bishop of Rochester and the lady mayoress presented the Princess with a large bouquet of flowers. As the royal couple walked along the pier sixty young Kentish girls dressed in red and white in honour of the Princess, strewed violets and primroses before them.

All the while church bells rang and guns were fired from naval ships in the river and from Tilbury Fort on the opposite bank of the Thames.

The royal couple and their entourage were taken by carriages to Gravesend station and from their proceeded slowly via London to Windsor Castle to meet Queen Victoria. All along the route massive crowds clamoured to see the Prince and Princess.

The wedding took place on 10th March at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle and Alexandra eventually became Queen consort on the death of Victoria in 1901.

Despite being more or less an arranged marriage and her husband's well documented affairs, it lasted over forty seven years.

Wonder how long William's and Kate's will last?...

Other posts you may enjoy....

General Charles Gordon - A Victorian Hero

Double Murder at the Greyhound

Kent for less than a fiver


  1. Alexandra was prepared to put up with a lot. much more than any modern woman would! Good read, Glen.

  2. I am delighted that this wedding, not one that normally fills the history books, has been beautifully written up in your blog. Many thanks.

    Have a look at the comments in my post on Royal wedding souvenirs. You will see a specific comment on the 1863 wedding between Danish Princess Alexandra and Edward Prince of Wales. Timing is everything :)