Saturday, May 19, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Queen Victoria's Wedding 10 February 1840

Victoria was 18 when she succeeded to the British throne in 1837. The big question was, who would she marry? She was lucky enough to find love as well as a good husband in the shape of Albert of Saxe-Coburg, a handsome and clever prince who shared Victoria's fondness for music. According to protocol, Victoria proposed to him and he accepted. They communicated in German but Albert soon made strides with English.

‘Oh!’, Victoria confided to her diary, ‘to feel I was, and am, loved by such an Angel as Albert was too great delight to describe! he is perfection … Oh! how I love and adore him I cannot say!!’ 

The wedding in February, the first marriage of a reigning English queen since Bloody Mary almost 300 years before, was held at 1pm in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace. Victoria arrived in a procession of carriages from Buckingham Palace, to which she had moved to get away from her mother. She wore a white dress of heavy silk satin, trimmed with Honiton lace. She had a white lace veil and wore a diamond necklace and earrings as well as a sapphire brooch given her by Albert and she carried a wreath of orange blossoms, a symbol of fertility. Albert was in a British field marshal’s uniform and was escorted by a squadron of Life Guards. He entered the chapel to the strains of Handel’s ‘See, the conquering hero comes’, followed by Victoria, who was given away by her uncle the Duke of Sussex. Twelve young bridesmaids carried her train.
There was not remotely room in the chapel for the huge crowds that had gathered and which cheered the young couple at every chance. The wedding breakfast was held at Buckingham Palace and the wedding cake weighed 300 pounds. The newlyweds went off to Windsor Castle for a three-day honeymoon. Victoria described her wedding day as ‘the happiest day of my life!’ and the wedding night that followed as ‘most gratifying’. 

Albert and Victoria had nine children.

Acknowledgements to History Today

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