Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dressing a Royal Bridegroom

How the Duke of York, the future James II, dressed for his wedding to Mary of Modena.
The embroidered suit that James wore to his second wedding miraculously still exists, and is on display in the Victoria and Albert  Museum, London. Only the waistcoat is missing. Here it is on the V&A website:

This suit has its own story to tell. James had it made for his wedding to his second wife in the winter of 1673, and like all royal weddings of the time, it was a political alliance, not a love match. The bride was a fifteen-year-old Italian princess, Mary Beatrice (her name already anglicized) of Modena. She was also Roman Catholic, and because James himself had recently converted to that faith as well, the wedding was wildly unpopular in Protestant England. In protest the princess was burned in straw effigies in London, as was James. A proxy wedding had already taken place in Modena, but the first time the couple were to meet would be when Mary Beatrice landed in Dover. Given England’s hostility, it was decided that the two should be wed in Dover, as quickly and quietly as possible.

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