07 July 2014

Jewel History: "England's Royal Wedding" (1893)

"England's Royal Wedding"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 7 Jul 1893)

London, July 6 -- The marriage of the Duke of York (Prince George of Wales) and Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, an event to which all England had been looking forward with deep interest, took place at 12:30 o'clock today in the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. The wedding was a brilliant function, and was attended by a large gathering of the members of the British royal family, continental sovereigns or their representatives, and many members of the highest nobility.

The weather was beautiful. The occasion was made one of national rejoicing and a partial British holiday. Great crowds of people gathered along the line of the route from Buckingham Palace, up Constitution Hill, through Piccadilly, St. James's Street, and Marlborough Gate to the garden entrance of St. James's Palace, which is on the north side of the Mall. The decorations along the line of the royal procession were profuse and beautiful. The roadway was kept open by the Household troops in their glittering uniforms, by detachments drawn from the military depots, by the Metropolitan Volunteers and militia, by Middlesex Yeomanry, and by the police.

The scene was full of life and movement, and the ceremony eclipsed in pomp and splendor any recent state ceremonial in connection with the British court.

Mary of Teck with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Teck

The royal party left Buckingham Palace in four processions, the first conveying the members of the household and distinguished guests. The next included the Duke of York and his supporters, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of Edinburgh. The bride came in the third procession, accompanied by her father, the Duke of Teck, and her brother, Prince Adolphus of Teck. The last procession was that of the Queen, who, accompanied by the Duchess of Teck, her younger sons, and the Grand Duke of Hesse, drove in state to the ceremonial.

Each procession was accompanied by a Life Guard escort, and in addition to this the Queen had an escort of native Indian and Australasian horse. Her Majesty rode in the handsome glass coach used at the opening of Parliament and on special occasions. The body of the carriage, which is of Irish manufacture, having been built in Dublin, is painted a dark color, and its richly-gilt panels are adorned with the royal arms. The roof is surmounted by a crown and bordered with a wreath of gilt roses, thistles, and shamrocks.

The cheering as the royal carriages drove forward was immense. The members of the royal family and guests on alighting at St. James's Palace walked to the state apartments and subsequently down the grand staircase and under the Color Court colonnade to the seats reserved for them in the chapel.

Illustration of the interior of the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace

Her Majesty alighted in the Ambassadors' Court under a specially-erected canopy over the glass doors of the passage leading to the chapel. Thence she walked to the haut pas at the north end of the edifice. The place was beautifully adorned with palms and flowers from the royal conservatory and carpeted with crimson. Upon the same platform seats were provided for the Prince and Princess of Wales, the bride and bridegroom, and other members of the family. The members of the diplomatic body, including the members of the United States Embassy and the other invited guests, occupied special seats in the body of the chapel and in the royal and east galleries.

The Duchess of Fife, Queen Louise of Denmark, and Queen Alexandra (then Princess of Wales) at the wedding celebrations

Drawing-room dresses were worn by the ladies, the gentlemen appearing in full levee dress.

At 12:15 o'clock the Duke of York and his escort arrived at the Chapel Royal. Five minutes later deafening cheers announced the arrival of Princess May. A fanfare of trumpets was sounded as the Queen arrived, and the greatest enthusiasm was manifested by the multitude of people who were gathered in the vicinity of St. James's Palace.

As the processions entered the chapel and were marshaled in their places in front of the altar, a good view was obtained of the royal personages present, and also of the lesser dignitaries. Brilliant uniforms, on the breasts of which glistened the stars and crosses of many orders, and magnificent gowns were seen on every side.

Queen Victoria four years later, during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations

The Queen headed the procession. She walked alone leaning on an ebony stick. Her Majesty was attired in a black dress with a train. The bodice was of broche silk with lace. She wore across her bosom the broad blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter, the highest British order, and on her head was a small diamond crown, from which a veil depended. Around her neck was a necklace of diamonds with pendant attached. As Her Majesty passed up the nave of the chapel, the whole assemblage bowed.

George V (then the Duke of York) in his naval uniform

Following the Queen came the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh, and behind them walked a number of the Admirals in full uniform, escorting the bridegroom, who wore the uniform of a Fleet Captain. The Duke of York looked flushed, perhaps due to the weather, which was intensely warm.

George V and Nicholas II of Russia, photographed during the wedding celebrations

The Tsarevich, the official representative of the Emperor of Russia, was in military uniform and wore a picturesque white sling jacket edged with ermine.

The King of Denmark escorted his daughter, the Princess of Wales. The Princess wore a dress of pure white silk and a tiara of diamonds.

The Marquis of Lorne wore the dress of a Highland chief, the plaid of which was that of the Campbell clan. His wife, Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of the Queen, was attired in a heliotrope-colored robe. She also had a tiara of diamonds.

Mary of Teck's wedding dress

The bride leaned upon the arm of her father, and as the procession advanced her train was carried by her bridesmaids.

Among the notabilities present were Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone. They were in their seats before the royal party appeared in the chapel. Mr. Gladstone wore the uniform of the Brethren of Trinity House, which included a large pair of naval epaulets. Mrs. Gladstone wore a black robe, trimmed with Brussels lace, and a black cap studded with diamonds.

Laurits Tuxen's painting of the wedding, commissioned by Queen Alexandra (source)

The Queen sat throughout the ceremony with absorbed attention. The Duke of York responded to the questions in a clear voice, his answers being audible in the furthest corner of the chapel. Princess May's responses were not so audible, and could be heard scarcely beyond the royal circle.

The Right Hon. and Most Rev. Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan, who conducted the service, did so with special emphasis. His voice was resonant, and not a word was missed by those who listened to him. At the conclusion of the religious ceremonies he made a short address to the royal bride and groom upon the high station of the wedded life and their duties to the nation. He enjoined them to cultivate moderation and discretion, combined with enthusiasm for all worthy ends. Their one prayer, the Archbishop added, ought to be that no element of wisdom, charity, or righteousness be lacking in their lives.

The Duke and Duchess of York on their wedding day

At the conclusion of the closing hymn and prayer the Queen was the first to salute the royal couple, after which the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Teck kissed the bride and congratulated the groom. In leaving the chapel the Duke and Duchess of York led the way, followed by the Queen.

The marriage ceremony opened with the procession of the clergy into the chapel. This consisted of the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Bishop of London; the Dean of the Chapel Royal; the Sub-Dean; the Bishop of Rochester; the Hon. and Rev. E. Carr-Glynn, Vicar of Kensington; Canon Hervey, Domestic Chaplain to the Prince of Wales; and Canon Dalton, Chaplain to the Duke of York. Handel's march from the "Occasional Overture" was played by the organist as the procession came forward.

While the Archbishop and clergy were taking their places the music of the march in "Scipio" came from the organ and immediately the front of the second procession, including the royal family and royal guests, came in sight. They were conducted to their seats as they entered. As the Queen's procession, which included the Duchess of Teck, two of the Princes of Teck, and the Grand Duke of Hesse, walked up the aisle, Sir Arthur Sullivan's "Imperial March" was played. A "March in G," composed by Smart, was played during the progress of the bridegroom's procession to the communion table, and as the bride and her supporters passed up the aisle to the altar, the organist played the march from Wagner's "Lohengrin."

The Duke and Duchess of York and the bridal party

The bride wore the veil which was worn by the Duchess of Teck on the occasion of her own marriage. Her wedding gown was of silver brocade, in perfect harmony with the bridesmaids' toilets of white satin and silver lace. The bridesmaids' gowns were made in low bodices, and neither hats, wreaths, nor veils were worn, only a simple rose in the hair. The bridesmaids were Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales, Princesses Victoria, Alexandra, and Beatrice of Edinburgh, Princesses Margaret and Victoria Patricia of Connaught, Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, and Princess Eugenie.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the other clergy, performed the ceremony, the bride being given away by her father. The magnificent silver sacramental plate, the central alms dish of which is said to have been manufactured in the reign of Charles I, and is valued at $50,000, was displayed upon the altar, which was decked with the choicest flowers.

Illustration of the Yorks leaving their wedding service

The service began with the marriage chorale "Father of Life," specially composed by Dr. Creeser for the occasion and sung by "the gentlemen and children of the Chapel Royal," as the members of the choir are styled. in the middle of the service, Sir John Barnaby's "O, Perfect Love," a chorale sung at the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Fife in the Buckingham Palace chapel, was given. The service concluded with the hymn "Now Thank We All Our God." Mendelssohn's Wedding March was played as the royal party left the chapel, the united processions of the bride and bridegroom leading to the throne room, where the registry of the marriage was attested by Her Majesty and the other members of the royal family and royal guests. Among those who signed the registry were also Prime Minister Gladstone; Lord Herschell, Lord High Chancellor; the Earl of Rosebery, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; the Earl of Kimberley, Lord President of the Council; and the Duke of Norfolk. The Duke of Norfolk is a Catholic. He signed the register as the hereditary Earl Marshal of England.

After receiving congratulations, the Duke and Duchess of York left Buckingham Palace, driving through the mall to the city and thence proceeding by the Great Eastern Railway from Liverpool Street to Sandringham. The Lord Mayer and Sheriffs met the newly-wedded pair at St. Paul's Cathedral, and their progress through the decorated and crowded streets was triumphal.

To enumerate the bridal gifts and the names of their donors would require several columns of newspaper space. Presents were received from all parts of the British dominions. The Duke of York's present to his bride consisted of an open-petaled rose in pearls and diamonds and a five-row pearl necklace. The pearls are not exceptionally large, but they are perfectly pure in color and splendidly matched.

The Duchess of Gloucester wears the Teck turquoises

The Duke and Duchess of Teck gave their daughter a set of jewels comprising a tiara, necklet, and brooch of turquoises and diamonds.

Much has been said regarding the opposition of the Princess of Wales to the marriage, it being stated that she did not approve of her son marrying the girl who had been engaged to his brother, even though that brother was dead. The present given by the Princess of Wales should put to rest these rumors, for it is doubtful if a more valuable gift was ever given by anyone on a similar occasion. The Princess's gift consisted mostly of jewelry and precious stones, the whole being valued at $1,250,000.

On the way back to Buckingham Palace from the Chapel Royal, the procession was led by the carriage of the Queen. Her Majesty, who was accompanied by the Duchess of Teck, was wrapped in a white Indian shawl. She gave instructions that the carriage should proceed slowly in order that she might view the decorations. This gave the loyal crowds along the route an excellent opportunity to again see Her Majesty, and she was enthusiastically cheered. She kept up a lively conversation with the Duchess of Teck, who pointed out to her the special features of the decorations that caught her eye.

Following the Queen came the carriage of the bride and bridegroom. The newly wedded couple were animatedly talking, only occasionally stopping their conversation to salute the crowd in response to the cheers with which they were welcomed.

Immense crowds were assembled in the Mall, Birdcage Walk, the upper part of St. James's Park, and everwhere else in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace. Even in Grosvenor Place, back of the palace gardens, from which nothing of the procession could be seen, people stood packed and jammed. Buckingham Palace Road was also crowded.

The Duke and Duchess of York, with Queen Victoria, on their honeymoon

Shortly after the royal party entered the palace, the Queen, the Duke of York and his bride, and the Duke and Duchess of Teck appeared on the balcony. As they stepped out the crowd went wild with enthusiasm. The cheering and long-continued expressions of popular approval have seldom, if ever, been equaled in London. So prolonged was the demonstration than a chair was brought to the balcony, and the Queen seated herself. She appeared to be suffering a little from heat, and, as she sat in the chair, she slowly fanned herself. Her face plainly showed the pleasure she felt at the enthusiasm of the crowd, who in every way possible expressed its approval of the marriage which it is believed Her Majesty to a certain extent brought about.

The Duchess of York looked charmingly beautiful as she stood on the balcony and acknowledged the salutations of those she may at some time be called upon to rule. She carried in one hand a bouquet of Provence roses, orchids, and orange blossoms.

The Yorks on their honeymoon

At 2:30 the royal party withdrew from the balcony to attend the dejeuner. This was a very social affair, royalty for the time being putting aside its prerogatives and entering fully into the joyousness of the occasion. The toasts were drunk with all the honors, and nearly two hours were spent at the table.

During this time the crowds awaited with as much patience as they could muster for the reappearance of the bride and groom on their way to Sandringham, the Prince of Wales's country residence, where they will spend part of their honeymoon. At 4:30 o'clock the Duke and Duchess bade adieu to the Queen and their other relatives and left the palace.