Let’s take a quick peek at a Royal Wedding. No, not that one.
How different was the wedding of Queen Elizabeth to Prince Philip from that of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? I won’t dwell on the details of the contemporary weddings as you either know them by heart or may not be that intrigued— but rather let us step back in time.
November 20, 1947
Elizabeth was thirteen when she first met her second cousin, once removed, Philip. (Their great great grandparents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were first cousins). Philip was born into Greek and Danish families. Born in Greece, his family was exiled when he was an infant. He was a young cadet in the British Royal Navy while she was destined to take the crown when she fell in love with him.
George VI didn’t approve of Elizabeth choice at first. Philip’s booming laugh and somewhat course seaman’s manners annoyed King George. The Prince had to become an English citizen before they could wed. Considering the war with Germany had only recently concluded it was a miracle their union came about at all. None of his German family members were allowed to come to the wedding; this included Philip’s three sisters who had married German men.
King George did not want to announce her engagement until she was 21 and so they had to keep their relationship quiet until her 21stbirthday.
It was not an elaborate wedding by current standards. There were certain budgetary constraints still in place after WWII, and like all citizens, the royalty complied. Elizabeth had to use ration coupons to pay for her wedding dress. The government allowed her 200 extra coupons for this one special concession. Her gown had a 15-foot long train and was embroidered with crystals.
Princess Elizabeth had eight bridesmaids, all grownups. The best man was Lord David Mountbatten.
Right before the wedding the Prince was created The Duke of Edinburgh. It was ten years later that he was formally made a British prince in 1957.
Some of the wedding guests included: The King of Iraq, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg.
Princess Elizabeth arrived at the Abbey in the Irish State Coach, escorted by her father, George VI. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett officiated. BBC Radio broadcast the ceremony to over 200 million people around the world.
Sir Norman Hartnell designed Princess Elizabeth wedding gown. He cited Botticelli’s painting, Primavera,which symbolizes the coming of spring as his inspiration for the design. The dress was a simple cut with fitted bodice, heart-shaped neckline with a low v-pointed waist and a floor-length paneled skirt. It had a 15-foot silk tulle full court train, which was attached at the shoulders and embroidered in pearl, crystal and transparent applique tulle embroidery. The dress was made of duchess satin manufactured in Scotland. It was decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls imported from America. This lovely creation was paid for by the Princess with clothing ration coupons!
The diamond fringe tiara was lent to The Queen on her wedding day. Something borrowed?
The day after the wedding the bridal bouquet was sent back to Westminster Abbey where according to tradition it was laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A few more bits and bobs
The couple received over 2,500 wedding gifts. Of special note: Mahatma Gandhi sent a piece of cotton lace that he spun himself. It was embroidered with the words “Ja Hind” (Victory for India). The couple also received a Singer sewing machine and a refrigerator! Don’t you just love it!
Cake 9 feet tall—more than enough to feed the 2,000 guests—used ingredients from all around the world, including sugar from the Girl Guides in Australia.
In over seventy years of marriage the two have never shared a bedroom with one another but they do have adjoining rooms. The couple does not hold hands in public as it is said Queen Elizabeth personally believes in the values of her times. Prince Philip is a self-admitted, non-romantic fellow. Philip has been quoted as saying that tolerance is the one essential ingredient in any happy marriage.
With love & laugher,
Please check out my newest release. Book one in the Florence Nightingale Comedy Mystery series The Giggling Corpse