Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Change of Modern Royal Weddings

From Victoria:
On April 29, 2011, millions of viewers sat in front of their televisions to watch the much-anticipated moment when Prince William and Kate Middleton would say I do. And now, as we anxiously await the marriage of younger brother Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle, our televisions and social media will be overflowing with royal causerie. Why is it that we are so enthralled with the royal family and their weddings? To understand how we became enamored with the royals’ private lives, we must go back to where it all started, with Queen Victoria.

By the nineteenth century, printing of news in British society was becoming more accessible and affordable. Images were being printed more often and in color, and the growth of material culture was more popular due to the publishing industry. According to Queen Victoria: First Media Monarch by John Plunkett, the press was both criticized and celebrated for the way it removed royal mystique and involved its readers in the lives of the royal family. Before Victoria, the royal family was only seen when making their tours or attending public events, and little was known about their private lives. The new media wave in the nineteenth century created an imaginative identification for the public with Victoria that hadn’t existed with royals before her.

Modern brides almost always walk down the aisle in a long white dress, but early nineteenth century brides were most likely to be seen in colored dresses on their wedding day. According to Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird, white was not then a conventional color or even an option, as bleaching techniques were not yet mastered, making it a rare and expensive choice. Victoria’s reasons for wearing white were twofold: she believed it was the perfect color to highlight the delicate Honiton lace, and it appeared as more a symbol of wealth than purity. On the day of her wedding, hundreds of spectators had gathered outside in the dreary weather just to get a glimpse of the royal couple. With the upsurge of media, the details of her gown had spread across Europe and became a popular dress choice thereafter.

By the time of King George VI’s wedding with Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, radio had already been invented. To break with tradition, it was decided that the wedding would be more of a public affair to lift the spirits of the nation after the effects of the Great War. It is also noted by the BBC that Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the tomb of the unknown warrior in the abbey, and royal brides since have copied the gesture. (Read more.)

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