30 July 2014

Jewel History: The Royal Wedding (1889)

The Earl of Fife and Princess Louise of Wales on their wedding day (source)

"The Royal Wedding"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 28 Jul 1889)

LONDON, July 27 -- Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar, eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, was married at noon today to Alexander William George, Earl of Fife, Knight of the Thistle [1]. The weather was unpropitious, as rain was falling. The ceremony took place in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace. This was the first marriage that ever took place in the chapel, which is small, and the number of guests was therefore limited.

The bride and groom arrived privately. The Princess of Wales [2], the Crown Prince of Denmark [3], the King of Greece [4], Prince Albert Victor [5], and Prince George of Wales [6] assembled in the Bow Library of Buckingham Palace at 11:45 o'clock, and there awaited the arrival of the Queen [7] from her private apartments.

The Prince of Wales and Princess Louise on her wedding day (source)

The bridal party, consisting of the Prince of Wales, Princess Louise, and Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales [8], left Marlborough House, the residence of the Prince of Wales, at 11:40 o'clock for Buckingham palace. Notwithstanding the rain, the route to the palace was crowded with spectators. There was a vast concourse of people opposite the palace. The Prince of Wales was enthusiastically cheered.

On the arrival in the Bow Library of the Queen, who was accompanied by the Grand Duke of Hesse [9], the procession to the chapel was formed. It comprised the Queen, the members of the royal family, who had gathered in the library, the King of Greece, the Crown Prince of Denmark, and other guests, and the officers of the royal household. The procession, on its way to the chapel, passed through several royal apartments, in which many of the guests who had found it impossible to enter the chapel were seated. Upon reaching the chapel, the Queen was escorted to the seat prepared for her, while the other royal personages took seats on either side of the altar.

The Earl of Fife, who was attired in a Highland costume and wore the garter of the Duffs, accompanied by his groomsman, Mr. Horace Farquhar, took his position at the altar rails and awaited the coming of his bride.

The Earl of Fife, Princess Louise, and the bridal party (source)

The Prince of Wales, with the bride and Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales and the members of the royal household, arrived at the palace just before noon. They were received by the Lord Steward and the Vice-Chamberlain and conducted to the Bow Library, where the bride was joined by the bridesmaids, who were Princesses Victoria and Maud of Wales, Princess Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein [10], Princess Victoria of Teck [11], Countess Feodore Gleichen, Countess Victoria Gleichen, and Countess Helena Gleichen [12]. The bridal party then proceeded to the chapel.

The bride wore a Duchesse dress of white satin, with a flowing train. It was trimmed with orange blossoms. She also wore a wreath of orange blossoms and a point de gaze veil. The bridesmaids wore dresses of blush-pink faille and carried bouquets of pink roses.

The clergymen officiating were the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Bishop of London; the Dean of Windsor, Domestic Chaplain to the Queen; the Rev. F.A.J. Hervey, Domestic Chaplain to the Prince of Wales; and the Rev. T. Teignmouth Shore.

Photograph of the wedding of the Earl of Fife and Princess Louise of Wales; the Prince of Wales stands to the bride's left, and Queen Victoria and the Princess of Wales are both visible on the left side of the image (source)

The Prince of Wales gave away the bride.

A choral service was sung by the choir of the Chapel Royal, St. James. A feature of the service was the singing of a special anthem entitled "Oh, Perfect Love," composed by Mr. Joseph Barnaby.

Many of the Ministers were present. Mr. Gladstone [13] was also among the guests.

The Princess of Wales on her daughter's wedding day (source)

The Queen wore a dress of black brocade. The Princess of Wales was attired in pearl gray satin brocaded with silver. Her Royal Highness also wore a tiara of diamonds [14]. After the benediction had been pronounced, the Queen kissed the bride and cordially greeted the groom.

After the wedding there were two breakfast parties in separate chambers in Buckingham Palace. One party consisted of the bride and groom, the Queen, and other royal personages, and the other of guests. Toasts were given to the Queen and to the bride and groom. After breakfast the Earl and his bride, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the King of Greece, the Crown Prince of Denmark, and the bridesmaids returned to Marlborough House, the bride and bridegroom occupying the first carriage. Later in the afternoon, the newly-married couple departed for Sheen House, the suburban residence of the Earl of Fife, where a portion of the honeymoon is to be spent.

On arriving at Sheen House [15], the newly-wedded pair were enthusiastically welcomed. They passed between files of Venetian masts, decorated with floral festoons. The path was covered with carpet, upon which wildflowers were strewn by girls dressed in white. Tonight Mortlake and Richmond, in the vicinity of the Earl of Fife's house, were illuminated.

The Prince of Wales gave a reception at Marlborough House this evening, which was attended by 1000 guests.

1. Alexander Duff was the 6th Earl of Fife when he married Princess Louise of Wales on July 27, 1889; however, two days later, Queen Victoria created him the 1st Duke of Fife.
2. The mother of the bride (later Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom).
3. The maternal uncle of the bride (later King Frederik VIII of Denmark).
4. The maternal uncle of the bride (King George I of Greece).
5. Eldest brother of the bride (later the Duke of Clarence and Avondale).
6. Elder brother of the bride (later King George V of the United Kingdom).
7. Queen Victoria, the bride's paternal grandmother.
8. The bride's younger sisters; Maud later became the Queen of Norway.
9. Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse-Darmstadt was the widower of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, and therefore the son-in-law of Queen Victoria (and the uncle of the bride).
10. Princesses Louise and Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein were the bride's first cousins; they were the daughters of Queen Victoria's third daughter, Princess Helena, and they were better known by the names "Helena Victoria" and "Marie Louise."
11. Princess Victoria of Teck, better known by her nickname, "May," would later become the sister-in-law of the bride when she married Louise's brother, George. She also, of course, would later become Queen Mary of the United Kingdom.
12. The Gleichens were relatives of the British royal family via their descent from Queen Victoria's half-sister, Princess Feodora of Leiningen. Her son, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, married Laura Seymour; because the marriage was morganatic (which meant the spouses were not of equal rank, and the wife/children do not inherit the husband's rank or titles), she was created Countess von Gleichen. All three of the Gleichen daughters became artists: Feodora was a noted sculptor, Helena was a painter, and Victoria was a singer.
13. In 1889, William Ewart Gladstone was the former British prime minister; three years later, he would become PM once more.
14. The tiara that Alexandra wore to her daughter's wedding was the diamond and amethyst tiara that she was given by her brother-in-law, Tsar Alexander III of Russia; she later bequeathed the tiara to Princess Louise, but it was sold by Louise's descendants in 1946.
15. The Fife residence was actually East Sheen Lodge; in 1889, Sheen House was being rented by the exiled Count of Paris.