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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

The wedding of Prince Albert Edward and Princess Alexandra of Denmark

On the 10th March 1863, Prince Albert Edward, later King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria, married Princess Alexandra of Denmark at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

The Marriage of the Prince of Wales with Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Windsor, 10 March 1863' by William Powell Frith, dated 1863-1865 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles

Before his marriage, Queen Victoria's eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, had gained himself a reputation as a playboy. In 1858 The Queen and Prince Albert began looking for a bride for their eldest son, with the aim of stopping his affairs and preventing scandal. After making a list of potential suitors, Princess Victoria, Bertie's elder sister, suggested the seventeen-year-old Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Although she wasn't first choice, Prince Albert soon agreed to the match.

Princess Victoria arranged for the two to meet on the 24th September 1861 at Speyer Cathedral, Germany. They became engaged a year later, on the 9th September 1862, at the Royal Castle of Laken in Belgium. A few months later, Alexandra travelled from Denmark to Britain aboard the royal yacht Victoria and Albert and arrived in Gravesend, Kent, on the 7th March 1863.

The Landing of HRH The Princess Alexandra at Gravesend, 7th March 1863' by Henry Nelson O'Neil, dated 1864 © National Portrait Gallery

Thomas Longley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, married the couple on 10th March 1863 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The venue had been chosen by Queen Victoria, who wanted a smaller ceremony than many expected. This caused much criticism from press as royal weddings usually took place in London. Many expectant guests were disappointed not to get an invite, including the Danes as only Alexandra's closest relations had been invited.The British court was still in mourning for Prince Albert, so ladies were restricted to wearing grey, lilac, or mauve.

The carriage procession began from Windsor Castle to St George's Chapel, with the Danish royal family in the first carriage, followed by members of the British royal family. The Prince of Wales and his entourage were in the next-to-last carriage, with the bride coming last. Queen Victoria was not part of the procession, being taken to the chapel privately. She was escorted by her brother-in-law, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Victoria was dressed in mourning, and viewed the ceremony from above and out of view of the other guests.

The bridesmaids of Princess Alexandra © National Portrait Gallery

Princess Alexandra was attended by eight bridesmaids: Lady Diana Beauclerk, Victoria Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Victoria Howard, Elma Bruce, Agneta Yorke, Emily Villiers (filling in for Hariot Georgina Hamilton-Rowan who was indisposed that day), Eleanor Hare and Feodorowna Wellesley. She was supported by her father, Prince Christian and the Duke of Cambridge. The Prince of Wales was supported by his uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and brother-in-law, the Crown Prince of Prussia.

After the ceremony, the Prince and Princess of Wales returned to Windsor Castle along with the other guests. Many of the royal guests served as witnesses, with Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales's siblings and their spouses,Princess Alexandra's family, as well as the Danish and British ministers and Lord Chancellor signing the marriage register. A banquet was held in the State Dining Room for the royal guests and in St. George's Hall for household members, and other guests.

Princess Alexandra and Prince Albert Edward in their wedding outfits in March 1863 by John Jabez Edwin Mayall © Royal Collection Trust / HIM King Charles III

As the couple left Windsor for their honeymoon at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, they were cheered by the schoolboys of neighbouring Eton College, including Lord Randolph Churchill.

The couple used Marlborough House as their London residence and Sandringham House in Norfolk as their country retreat. Alexandra gave birth to their first child, Prince Albert Victor, on the 8th January 1864. Over the next seven years she would go on to have a total of six children.

The prince and Princess of wales with five of their children. Source: Public Domain

Their marriage and lifestyle was controversial. They hosted lavish parties and Bertie continued to have affairs. Despite this, Alexandra remained devoted to her husband until his death in 1910.

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