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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

The wedding of Princess Victoria The Princess Royal to Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia

‘The Marriage of Victoria, Princess Royal, 25 January 1858’ by John Phillip, dated 1860 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

On the 25th January 1858, The Princess Royal Victoria the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London.

During 1848 a revolution broke out in Berlin, Wilhelm I the heir presumptive to the Prussian throne found shelter for three months in the British court. In 1851, Wilhelm returned to London with his wife and two children (Friedrich and Louise), on the occasion of The Great Exhibition. For the first time, Victoria met her future husband, and despite the age difference (she was 11 years old and he was 19), they got along very well.

Wedding of Victoria, Princess Royal and Frederick III] c.1858 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

After Friedrich returned to Germany, he began a close correspondence with Victoria. Behind this nascent friendship was the desire of Queen Victoria and her husband to forge closer ties with Prussia. In a letter to her uncle, the King Leopold of the Belgians, the British sovereign conveyed the desire that the meeting between her daughter and the Prussian prince would lead to a closer relationship between the two young people.

In 1855, Prince Friedrich made another trip to Great Britain and visited Victoria and her family in Scotland at Balmoral Castle. The purpose of his trip was to see the Princess Royal again, to ensure that she would be a suitable consort for him. After three days with the royal family, Friedrich asked Victoria’s parents permission to marry their daughter. They were thrilled by the news, but gave their approval on condition that the marriage should not take place before Vicky’s seventeenth birthday. Once this condition was accepted, the engagement of Victoria and Frederick was publicly announced on May 17, 1856.

The ceremony took place on 25 January 1858 in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, which sparked outrage in Prussia as the prince’s countrymen felt a future king should be married in Berlin.The service was conducted by a very nervous John Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who apparently skipped over several parts of the service.

Victoria, the Princess Royal, in her wedding dress © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

The Princess Royal followed the tradition started by her mother and had her dress made from fabrics manufactured at Spitalsfields. Her wedding dress was manufactured by Mrs Darvill, designed by Janet Fife. The bridal gown was made of white moire antique embroidered with rose, shamrock, and thistle emblems in gold thread, while the three lace flounces were edged with orange blossom and myrtle. The white moire antique train was trimmed with rows of Honiton lace and wreaths similar to those on the flounces of the dress. The bride also wore a diamond necklace, diamonds earrings and a diamond brooch. Pinned to her left sleeve was the Order of Louise, a Prussian order of chivalry, and the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert. Her train was long enough that her eight bridesmaids didn’t have to worry about tripping over each other, and while according to the Queen the Archbishop of Canterbury was “very nervous”, the bride and groom themselves were poised and spoke “very plainly”. When the vows were said, the young couple set a tradition, walking out of the chapel to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.

Photograph of The Princess Royals Wedding dress 1858 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

The Princess Royal had eight bridesmaids; Lady Susan Pelham-Clinton-under (daughter of the Duke of Newcastle), Lady Emma Stanley (daughter of the Earl of Derby), Lady Susan Murray (daughter of the Earl of Dunmore), Lady Victoria Noel (daughter of the Earl of Gainsborough), Lady Cecilia Lennox (daughter of the Duke of Richmond), Lady Katherine Hamilton (daughter of the Duke of Abercorn), Lady Constance Villiers (daughter of the Earl of Clarendon), & Lady Cecilia Molyneux (daughter of the Earl of Sefton. The bridesmaids, all the "personal friends of the bride, carried her "rich train," were dressed in a "gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls."   Their gowns were made from a design from the "illustrious bride."

The Princess Royal’s bridesmaids © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

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