College of St George Archives Blog

College of St George Archives

Posts Tagged ‘Royal wedding’

A very Royal wedding

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Over the years, St George’s has seen a number of Royal occasions take place at the Chapel, all of which are recorded in the Chapel archives, and most recently being the wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly in 2008.

However, Edward VII is the only monarch to have been baptised, married and buried in St George’s Chapel. He was baptised Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, on 25 January 1842 by the Archbishop of Canterbury. 21 years later, he would marry Alexandra Caroline Maria Charlotte Louisa Julia on 10 March 1863.

There had been national outcry at the thought that St George’s would host the wedding, as it was, according , according to The Illustrated Times, “Grey, crumbling, hoary and without almost ruinous in aspect”. The now grand ceremonial west steps at the time were narrow, unkempt and little more than a rubbish dump. St George’s was also considered too small, and Windsor too much of a backwater to be worthy of the wedding of the Prince of Wales; however as in most things, Queen Victoria got her way.

Wedding of Edward and Alexandra

Great anterooms were built over the mound to provide somewhere for the procession to gather, as well as offering something a little more spectacular than what was there at the time. These were hung with fine drapes, and Lady Augusta Stanley thought them “fitted up with the greatest taste”.

The day itself was a cold and frosty one, fitting for the air of solemnity and grief which went with the day, since it was less than 3 months since the death of Albert. Despite this, it was a grand occasion, with a gallery at the south end of the organ-loft specially built to accommodate the enlarged choir and an orchestra. Sir George Elvey arranged the music and composed the anthem “Sing unto God”. For Victoria, taking part in the service would have been too much, and she watched from above, as can be seen in this painting. For the rest of her life, she would watch services from this little room, originally built for Katherine of Aragon.

On his death in 1910, Edward VII was placed in the Royal Vault while work was finished on his tomb in the South Quire Aisle. After the death of Alexandra 15 years later, the two coffins were placed side by side in the sarcophagus, which has a lovely personal feel, depicting Edward’s favourite dog Caesar at his feet.

Eleanor Cracknell (Assistant Archivist)

Royal Wedding at St George’s

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Marriages of the Prince of Wales have been rare events in English history. The current Prince Charles is only the sixth to marry whilst Prince of Wales since 1501. The last one was his great, great grandfather, Albert Edward, the future King Edward VII, in 1863. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had begun the search for a bride in 1858 since an early marriage would mean he would be able to have a son earlier to secure his reign. The bride was not allowed to be a Roman Catholic under the Act of Succession. Although the Queen and the Prince Albert were keen on finding a German match, they agreed to a marriage with Princess Alexandra Caroline, daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark, who was known to be very beautiful, charming and intelligent.

The signing of the Attestation Deed

The signing of the Attestation Deed

The marriage took place in ‘The King’s free chapel of St George’, Windsor Castle, on 10th March 1863. The marriage attestation deed was signed in the State Apartments of the Castle, rather than in the Chapel, as you can see in this print held in the St George’s Chapel Archives. The Chapel Archives also contain the official marriage register signed by numerous witnesses and other letters and documents connected with the wedding. These reveal the names of the important people from around the world who were invited to attend and even indicate where they were seated in the Chapel. The wedding was not open to members of the public but they were allowed to gather outside to greet the Royal couple.

Navid Khanzadeh (The Langley Academy)