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Five of the Best: The History of the Royal Wedding

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It’s only been five months since the wedding of the year but on Friday 12th October, Princess Eugenie will walk down the same aisle as Meghan did in May. And in preparation of this eagerly anticipated event, we take a look back at some of the most iconic royal weddings that captured the public’s imagination.

Victoria & Albert, 1840

Photo of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

“The happiest day of my life”, said a 20-year-old Queen Victoria in a diary entry on her wedding day to her German cousin Albert at St James’s Palace on 10th February 1840. Proposing to Albert herself, she initially wanted the wedding to be low key but on the advice of her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, it became a lavish affair with crowds lining the rain-soaked streets of Windsor for a chance glimpse of her golden carriage. After 21 years and nine children together, Albert’s death in 1841 hit Victoria hard, and while she might have worn black for the rest of her reign, she chose to be buried in white along with her bridal veil across her face next to her late husband.

Elizabeth & Philip, 1947

Elizabeth and Philip

Since 1851 it has been royal custom to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after an important event. And this was no exception following Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding to Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey on November 20th 1947. With Britain facing adversity in the aftermath of the Second World War, the princess paid for her bridal dress using coupons she had accumulated from rationing. In a remarkable act of kindness, the public even sent their own ration coupons to help with the dress, but all had to be returned because it was deemed illegal. Seventy-one years later, the couple are still each other’s rock.

Charles & Diana, 1981

Watched by a global audience of nearly a billion people, it was the wedding of the century. Taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29th July 1981 it was the first big step for a young and shy Lady Diana Spencer towards cementing her legacy. Diana’s wedding gown alone was measured at 7m long and the Emanuel-designed dress was a closely guarded secret up until the day. With the eyes of the world watching, the couple’s nerves were evident, when expressing their vows Charles and Diana mixed their words. Diana calling her husband-to-be “Charles Philip” and Charles saying “thy goods” instead of “my worldly goods”.

William & Kate, 2011

It’s been seven years since Prince William and Katherine Middleton officially became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and like William’s parents, the day was also declared a public holiday. In honour of his late mother, Kate’s engagement ring was the same one Charles had given to Diana for their nuptials. Nearly 1,900 guests attended the service at Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011, watched by an estimated audience of two billion. Two million people lined the streets to have the privilege of seeing the future King and Queen of England ride past on a horse-drawn carriage.

Harry & Meghan, 2018

Harry and Meghan

Westminster Abbey is the traditional place for a royal to marry, but sometimes it’s good to have a break from tradition. On May 19th at St George’s Chapel this year, history was made when Prince Harry became the first member of the royal family to marry somebody of mixed race. A self-made Hollywood actress and feminist campaigner, the ceremony was attended by many celebrities at home and across the pond. Meghan’s father was famously absent from his daughter’s wedding, leaving Charles the duty of giving away his soon-to-be daughter-in-law. After serving the best man role at his brother William’s wedding, Harry returned the favour by asking him to do the same.

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