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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - The Wedding of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, 23rd January 1874

Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria's second son, married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, daughter of Alexander II, Emperor of Russia at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Queen Victoria could not attend the ceremony so The Prince of Wales stood in as her representative.

Because Victoria could not attend the wedding, her son commissioned watercolours to be painted of the ceremony for his mother, Queen Victoria had never witnessed an orthodox ceremony so Alfred had two slips added that could be moved to help illustrate the different parts of the ceremony, including the groomsmen holding nuptial crowns over the heads of the bride and groom, a procession around the lectern and a blessing. Alfred explained to the Queen 'by using the little additional strips you will be able to follow different parts of the ceremony'. Although Queen Victoria did not attend the ceremony she did find the day to be important, she decorated a portrait of her future daughter in law with orange blossoms and ribbons in the Russian colours. The Orthodox ceremony was conducted by the Metropolitan Archbishop, and was followed by an English service, presided over by Dean Stanley, which took place in the Alexander Hall.

The Marriage of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

Queen Victoria wrote in her journal:

"My mind entirely taken up with today's great event & I felt it very trying to be absent! May God bless our Child & make him happy. — Breakfasted below with the Children & George. Marie's picture was surrounded by a wreath of evergreens & some orange flowers, tied with bows of the Russian colours. — Walked out with Beatrice & planted a tree in remembrance of the day, & George also planted one. It was showery. — Sent & received many telegrams. The wedding was to take place at 1, but there are 2 hours difference with the time here. — Had a telegram from Mr Gladstone saying the Cabinet had agreed to the Dissolution. — Drove in the afternoon with Beatrice, Janie E. — Ld Caledon, going by West Cowes & Newport, which were beautifully decorated, & full of people. There were to be illuminations in the evening. — Received a most interesting long letter from Augusta Stanley, dated the 18th. At 6 received the following telegram from the Empr of Russia:

"Nous nous empressons d'announcer à Votre Majesté que la double cérémonie du mariage de nos chers Enfants vient "d'avoir lieu. Que la Bénédiction Divine veille sur eux; nous recommendons notre Fille chérie à votre solicitude maternelle."

Translation - “We hasten to announce to Your Majesty that the double marriage ceremony of our dear Children has just taken place. May the Divine Blessing watch over them; We recommend our darling Daughter to your maternal solicitude."

To which I answered:

"C'est avec une vive émotion que je reçois en ce moment la nouvelle de l'accomplissement de la double cérémonie du mariage de nos chers Enfants et j 'attends avee impatience le moment où je pourrai embrasser ma chère Fille qui sera l'object de ma plus vive solicitude et de ma plus tender affection."

Translation - "It is with great emotion that I receive at this moment the news of the completion of the double marriage ceremony of our dear Children and I impatiently await the moment when I will be able to kiss my dear Daughter who will be the object with my deepest solicitude and my most tender affection."

The Orthodox marriage service of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Maria Alexandrovna © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

— Read over the marriage service, thinking much of the young couple. — At ½ p. 7 the ships, the guard Ship "Zealous" & the "Royal Alfred" (sister ship) which had come over on purpose fromPortsmouth& the "Alberta", all moored inOsborneBay, lighted up & displayed fireworks. —My 2 Children, George, Ernest Leiningen, Victor & Lolo Gleichen, the 4 ladies (including Emily Cathcart) the Biddulphs, Ponsonby & Capt: Mildmay dined. At dessert George proposed the healths of the Duke & Dss of Edinburgh, followed by Mine & those of the Empr & Empress of Russia. I wore the star & ribbon of the order of St. Katherine & Beatrice wore her Victoria & Albert order for the first time. Went into the Drawing room for a little while, & then went down to the Servant's Hall which was very prettily decorated with wreaths & flags where a Servant's Ball took place. We remained through 10 dances, Beatrice dancing the 1rst Country Dance with George. Little Feo, who came with us looked very pretty. Did not get back to my room till ½ p. 1. Received telegrams from Bertie, Vicky & Ld Sydney saying all had gone of extremely well & the 2 marriages had been very impressive. Heard also that the Banquet for 800 people was over, which was followed by a Ball, all most magnificent. After this the young couple were going to leave. Thought so much of them. May they be happy & keep their happiness longer than I did mine! —

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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