The Wedding of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra
|Marriage of the Prince of Wales by William Powell Frith (1865). Source: Wikimedia Commons|
The wedding ceremony of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark was solemnized at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on March 10, 1863. The Prince of Wales was 21 and his Danish bride was 18 at that time. Princess Alexandra immediately endeared herself to the Englishmen. Her beauty was compared “to a beautiful rose or rare orchid or an absolute faultless carnation.” Even Queen Victoria, in her self-imposed mourning, rejoiced with Albert Edward’s engagement to Alexandra. “This jewel!”, she wrote of the princess: “How beloved Albert would have loved her!”
On the wedding day, Albert Edward, wearing his Garter robes and attended by his brother-in-law, the Crown Prince of Prussia, and uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, waited for his bride to be given away by her father, Prince Christian, who would, on that same year, ascend as King of Denmark. The prince and princess were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury assisted by four bishops and the Dean of Windsor.
Aside from Queen Victoria, among those in attendance to witness the wedding were a host of royalties from around the world, including Alexandra’s sister the future Empress of Russia and the Maharajah Duleep Singh of India.
A four-year-old Prince William of Prussia, the future German Kaiser, tried to steal the scene in the solemn ceremony. Wearing his Highland dress, he prised out the cairngorm from his dirk and pitched it across the choir as two of his uncles tried to make him behave despite the fact that “he was biting us all the time.” Then, there were also the boys of Eton College, who, at the peak of their youthful excitement, cheered wildly as they rushed to the bridal car on its way to the railway station. One of the boys was Lord Randolph Churchill who recorded that the Princess of Wales would have easily frightened had she not possessed strong nerves. “But all she did was smile,” wrote Lord Randolph.
Her smile was indeed her chief asset, which made her even more loved by every Englishman. Poet-laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was so enchanted by her that she described her as the “Sea-King’s daughter from over the sea,” a description that spread throughout the country soon after they returned from Osborne. The couple then set out to launch “such a season as London had never known,” one that Benjamin Disraeli described as a royal public honeymoon that lasted for months. In January 1901, Albert Edward succeeded his mother as King Edward VII, while Alexandra became his queen consort.
The Royal Wedding: Official Souvenir (1981), Published by Gracious Permission of Her Majesty The Queen