Royal Weddings at Windsor Castle: a History

Today Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The Chapel has centuries of significance for the royal family and is the last resting place of many previous monarchs and their consorts, including King Henry VIII and his third queen, Jane Seymour, King Edward the IV and his queen Elizabeth Woodville and King George V and his consort Queen Mary, the present queen’s grandparents.

Harry, full name Henry Charles Albert David was born third in line to the British throne, after his father and elder brother. He now sits sixth in the order of succession, after the birth of the Duke of Cambridge’s children. 

I have previously written about a royal double wedding that took place exactly two hundred years ago this summer, when two sons of King George III married for dynastic purposes at Kew Palace.

In the last 150 years there have been fifteen royal weddings at Windsor Castle. Harry and Meghan’s marriage will make it sixteen, let’s take a look.

1. The Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). Prince Albert Victor, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert married Princess Alexandra on 10 March 1863 in St George’s Chapel. You can see what Alexandra’s wedding dress looks like today in The Fashion Museum, Bath: Royal Women. Albert, known as Bertie, was never faithful to Alexandra and enjoyed the company of many mistresses, one of whom was was the current Duchess of Cornwall’s great-grandmother, Alice Keppel.

King_Edward_VII_and_Queen_Alexandra_-_Wedding_-1863
Princess Alexandra and Prince Albert (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra)

2. Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig Holstein married in the Private Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 5 July 1866. Helena, Queen Victoria’s fifth child, was given away by Queen Victoria. The happy couple honeymooned at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. The Kelso Chronicle reported that most of the shops in Windsor were closed for the occasion and ‘there was a tolerable display of flags in the neighbourhood of the castle.’ It was also noted that the ‘bells of St John’s and St George’s rang merrily’ otherwise there was ‘not much interest in the auspicious event.’

Princess Helena
Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig Holstein

3. Princess Louise married John Campbell, the Marquess of Lorne and heir to the Argyll Dukedom, on 21 March 1871 in St George’s Chapel. She was walked up the aisle by Queen Victoria and her two eldest brothers, The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh. She designed her own wedding veil of Honiton Lace.

4. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia were married on 13 March 1879 in St George’s Chapel. Arthur was Victoria and Albert’s seventh child. The couple had three children who were brought up at Bagshot Park, Surrey, the home of the Earl and Countess of Wessex today.

Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia
Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia

5. Princess Frederica of Hanover, and Luitbert, Baron Von Pawel-Rammingen married on 24 April 1880 at St George’s Chapel. Princess Frederica was the elder daughter of King George V of Hanover, he was a grandson of George III.

6. Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, married Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont on 27 April 1882 at St George’s Chapel. Prince Leopold was the eighth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Princess Helena Friederike was the daughter of the reigning Prince Georg Viktor of Waldeck-Pyrmont. Prince Leopold was a haemophiliac, one of several of Queen Victoria’s descendants to suffer from this disorder. 

Princess Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont
Princess Helena of Waldeck-Pyrmont

7. Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Aribert of Anhalt married on 6 July 1891 in St George’s Chapel, like her parents had done in 1866. Their nuptials occurred 25 years and one day after Princess Helena and Prince Christian. Princess Marie Louise was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

8. Princess Alice Mary of Albany and Prince Alexander of Teck married on 10 February 1904 in St George’s Chapel. Prince Alexander was the brother of Mary, the Princess of Wales, later Queen Mary. The couple became the Earl and Countess of Athlone.

Princess Alice of Albany
Princess Alice Mary of Albany and Prince Alexander of Teck

9. Princess Margaret of Connaught and Prince Gustaf Adolph of Sweden married on 15 June 1905 at St George’s Chapel. Princess Margaret was the daughter of the Duke of Connaught who had also married in the Chapel. Prince Gustaf later became King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Princess Margaret was fluent in French and German and she spoke Italian ‘fairly well’, according to reports, learned the Swedish language prior to her marriage. 

10. Helena Cambridge and Major John Gibbs married at St George’s Chapel on 2 September 1919. Lady Helen was the daughter of the Marquess of Cambridge and a niece of Queen Mary.

Lady Helena Gibbs
Helena Cambridge and Major John Gibbs

11. Anne Abel Smith and David Liddell-Grainger married at St George’s Chapel on 14 December 1957. Anne was a granddaughter of the Earl and Countess of Athlone.

12. Lady Helen Windsor and Timothy Taylor married at St George’s Chapel on 18 July 1992. Lady Helen is the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. The Duke of Kent is Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin.

Lady Helen Windsor
Lady Helen Windsor and Timothy Taylor

13. Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis and Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones married on 19 June 1999. They had a six year relationship before their marriage. Edward is the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Prince Edward was created the Earl of Wessex the morning of his wedding day, his bride was titled Her Royal Highness Countess of Wessex when she married. They have two children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn. Sophie is the daughter or Christopher  and Mary Rhys Jones. Prince Edward, unusually, was not conferred with a Dukedom on his marriage, but he will eventually receive his father’s Duke of Edinburgh title when it reverts back to the crown.

14. Charles Philip Arthur George, the Prince of Wales, married Camilla Parker-Bowles on 9 May 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. The service was followed by a blessing at St George’s Chapel  attended by the Queen and Prince Philip. The Archbishop of Canterbury led the service. Camilla, Harry’s step-mother, is a divorcee and so their union set a precedent for a royal to marry a divorced woman.

15. Peter Mark Andrew Phillips and Autumn Kelly married at St George’s Chapel on 17 May 2008. Peter Phillips is the eldest child of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, he is the Queen’s first grandson. The couple have two daughters, Savannah and Isla. As the son of a princess he was not automatically titled at birth. The Queen did offer titles to both of Princess Anne’s children on their birth, but Princess Anne declined them, as  did Mark Phillips when he was offered an Earldom on his marriage to Anne in 1973.

Autumn Kelly
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly

16. Prince Henry Charles Albert David and Rachel Meghan Markle will become the sixteenth  royal couple since 1863 to marry in St George’s Chapel on 19 May 2018. Their first reception will be held at St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle. They will then have a private evening reception at Frogmore House in the grounds of Home Park, Windsor, hosted by the Prince of Wales. Frogmore was the honeymoon destination of Harry’s great-grandparents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother. The Queen is expected to confer a Dukedom on Harry on the morning of his wedding  making Meghan a royal Duchess once she formally enters the royal family.

 

Images: Pinterest

Sources:

https://www.royal.uk/history-royal-weddings-windsor-castle

www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

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