Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Queen Victoria's Wedding

The recent film The Young Victoria sent me in search of an account of the wedding of Albert and Victoria, and here it is as follows:
The procession for Queen Victoria's wedding passed on to the Garden Entrance of St. James’s Palace by which Her Majesty entered and proceeded to the Queen’s Closet, or Privy Council Chamber, where she remained for half an hour till the procession was formed in front of the Throne. During all this time the cheering continued in front of the Palace with uninterrupted vehemence....

 His Serene Highness wore a field marshal’s uniform, with large rosettes of white satin on his shoulders. There was a flush on his brow as he entered the chapel to begin Queen Victoria's wedding. His manly and dignified bearing, and the cordial and unaffected manner with which he greeted those of the Peers and Peeresses around him, won all hearts. Many of those around pronounced that Prince Albert was a consort worthy of Queen Victoria.

 On reaching his chair, Prince Albert advanced gracefully to the Queen Dowager and respectfully kissed her hand. He afterwards bowed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Church Dignitaries and remained for some time standing and casting many anxious glances towards the Chapel entrance. The Queen Dowager at length requested him to be seated and he entered into conversation with her....

The procession arrived at the chapel at half past one. The chapel itself had been crowded from an early hour. The galleries presented a magnificent display of nobility and beauty. In the Ambassador’s gallery, facing the altar, among the first arrivals, were the American Minister and Mrs. Stevenson, the Turkish Ambassador, the Princess Esterhazy, Mr. and Mrs. Van de Weyhr, the Swedish Ambassador, Russian Ambassador, and Count Sebastiani. A number of others arrived in rapid succession, and the south gallery soon presented a very magnificent display of costly diamonds, stars, and decorations.  At 10 o’clock one of the bands marching into the Palace yard passed the chapel window playing “Haste to the Wedding.” While a smile mantled on the faces of the ladies, the Archbishop of Canterbury most appropriately entered the chapel and proceeded up to the altar.

 The Queen Dowager entered immediately after eleven, and took her seat on the right of the state chair appropriated to Prince Albert – all the spectators rose on her entrance, and Queen Adelaide curtsied at this mark of respect.

 The appearance of the large body of spectators was brilliant in the extreme. Bridal favors were universally worn, and the profusion of diamonds and other gems, the glittering state robes and costly decorations, formed a display of the most magnificent character. The altar was magnificently decorated. The pillars supporting the galleries were gilt, as was the communion table and the gothic railing which surrounded it.

 Wedding Attire

 Queen Victoria’s dress was of rich white satin, trimmed with orange flower blossoms. The headdress was a wreath of orange flower blossoms, and over this a beautiful veil of Honiton lace, worn down. The bridesmaids or train-bearers were also attired in white. The cost of the lace alone on the dress was £1,000. The satin, which was of a pure white, was manufactured in Spitalfields. Queen Victoria wore an armlet having the motto of the Order of the Garter: "Honi soit qui mal y pense,” inscribed. She also wore the star of the Order.

The lace of Queen Victoria’s bridal dress, though popularly called Honiton lace, was really worked at the village of Beer, which is situated near the sea coast, about ten miles from Honiton.  It was executed under the direction of Miss Bidney, a native of the village, who went from London, at the command of her Majesty, for the express purpose of superintending the work. More than two hundred persons were employed upon it from March to November, during the past year.

 The lace which formed the flounce of the dress, measured four yards, and was three quarters of a yard in depth. The pattern was a rich and exquisitely tasteful design, drawn expressly for the purpose, and surpasses anything that has ever been executed either in England or in Brussels. So anxious was the manufacturer that Queen Victoria should have a dress perfectly unique, that she has since the completion of the lace destroyed all the designs. The veil, which was of the same material, and was made to correspond, afforded employment to the poor lace workers for more than six weeks. It was a yard and a half square.

 The Queen Dowager's dress was of English lace with a rich deep flounce over white satin; the body and sleeves trimmed with the same material. The train was of rich violet velvet lined with white satin and trimmed with ermine. The whole of this dress was entirely composed of articles of British manufacture. Queen Adelaide wore a diamond necklace and earrings, a head dress, feathers, and diamonds.

 The dress worn by her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kent, was of white satin splendidly brocaded with silver and trimmed with three flounces of blonde. It was trimmed with net and silver. The train was of sky-blue velvet lined with white satin and trimmed with ermine. The body and sleeves were tastefully ornamented with ermine and silver with blonde ruffles. The head dress was of diamonds and feathers with a necklace and earrings en suite. The articles in the dress were wholly of British manufacture.
 H.R.H. Princess Augusta wore a corsage and train of rich blue velvet trimmed with Brussels point lace and tastefully ornamented with aigrettes of diamonds. There was a rich white satin petticoat with volants and heading of Brussels point lace. The head dress was of Brussels point lace with superb lappets to correspond and a magnificent spray of diamonds.

 The Duchess of Sutherland wore a dress of white satin trimmed with barbs of Spanish point lace and white roses. Included was a stomacher of brilliants, point ruffles and berthé; plus a train of white moiré magnificently embroidered in coral and gold. The head dress was of feathers and point lappets with splendid diamonds. The Countess of Carlisle had a dress of sapphire blue velvet with a Brussels point tucker and ruffles. Her head dress was a toque of velvet and Brussels point lappets.

 Prince Albert met Queen Victoria and conducted her to her seat on the right hand side of the altar. The Archbishop of Canterbury advanced to the rails; next her Majesty and Prince Albert approached him and the service commenced.  While the service was proceeding, her Majesty was observed looking frequently at Prince Albert, who was standing at her side. In fact she scarcely ever took her eyes off him till she left the chapel....


Julygirl said...

This description brings it all to life. In those days Orange blossoms were always part of marriage and wedding decor. My mother's wedding band had orange blossoms engraved upon it.

Anonymous said...

Elena, Can't wait to read this later! I ordered "The Young Victoria" from Netflix and can't wait to see it after reading your earlier review. :)

elena maria vidal said...

Susan, you'll love it!

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

I really need to see this movie!

Wow, this description is breathtaking. I am drooling over these clothes. I want to wear these dresses!

elena maria vidal said...

Me, too!

May said...

A splendid painting and description~ a pity most of this was left out of the film (btw, I have seen it by now)

Anonymous said...

I imagine that wearing these types of clothes would be fun sometimes, but their weight and scratchiness would get really burdensome after a while. Especially if one were expected to attend many weddings and other formal gatherings.

I learned this about myself from my experience living in India. True, the styles are very different there, but I think it must be very similar to the old days of Europe in many ways. Same fabrics; same type of heavy work on them; same confining heavy jewelry; and same social expectations of attending weddding and functions no matter how one feels. All the expectations, for me, got to be very wearying, to the point that I dreaded getting yet another invitation. My daughter felt the same way. Not only were we expected to wear the heavy silks and brocades with heavy beadwork and silver and gold metalwork (heavy and scratchy!) but we also were expected to wear heavy and elaborate jewelry. It can feel quite suffocating! Not to mention that it gets very expensive! You can't be seen in the same thing twice, you see. At least not if the same guests were at the same events.

What a relief it was to get home at night after one of these things! First thing I'd do was to stripp off the tight gold bangles and heavy necklaces and earrings and pull then off all that heavy clothes!

I'd have made a terrible princess in the old days!

Lucy said...

Hi Elena! This is such a great post- and it`s perfect for my weekend Victoria Binge! Please come over to my site and leave a link!
and Big Hugs:)