Victoria, a new Masterpiece miniseries, premiered on PBS earlier this month. The show features Jenna Coleman as the young queen, and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert. And while we’ve been excited about this show for a while — especially since we binge-watched The Crown — we’ll admit that there are a few aspects that we are looking forward to more than others. One such example has got to be Victoria’s 1840 royal wedding to Prince Albert, which will be covered in the show’s first season. Victoria may have started the enduring trend of white wedding dresses, but from her bridal party to her accessories, there’s a lot more to know about the wedding of the (19th) century. Just beware — for those truly vested in learning about Victoria and Albert’s romance as it unfolds on their laptop’s screen, spoilers are ahead.
Victoria wanted a simple wedding. Victoria didn’t want an elaborate — or huge — ceremony. However, Lord Melbourne, who was at the time England’s prime minister, convinced her to have a larger affair. Lord Melbourne was Victoria’s first PM, and they were very close.
She made white wedding dresses popular. At the time, wedding dresses were not necessarily white. Victoria chose to have her dress made in white not to reflect purity, but to best show off its lace. (The lace makers in England were then struggling, and her commission was intended to give the industry a boon.) The young queen decreed that no one else should wear white at her wedding — trend-setting, again — and had the pattern for her dress destroyed so that no one could copy it afterwards.
The Queen also wore some great accessories. On her wedding day, Victoria wore Turkish diamond earrings, a sapphire brooch from Albert, and white satin shoes. She also wore kid gloves, and a wreath of myrtle and orange blossoms. (Orange blossoms were also embroidered on her train.)
There was some drama with her bridesmaids. Victoria chose her 12 bridesmaids according to rank. Albert wanted her to pick them based off of their reputations, but Victoria ignored him. On her wedding day, Victoria’s trainbearers wore white dresses that she had designed and turquoise brooches in the shape of an eagle. The brooches were a gift from the queen to each lady.
It rained (a lot) on her wedding day. Crowds however still came out to try to see the bride as she made her way to St. James’s Palace in a gold carriage.
Victoria and Albert got married in a church, and then there was a feast afterwards. The wedding ceremony took place in St. James’s red-and-gold Chapel Royal. Victoria thought St. James was ugly, and didn’t want to have her wedding there. After the ceremony, Victoria changed into another dress and a huge bonnet for a subsequent feast. The bride and groom stayed there until around 4:00 p.m., and then traveled three hours to Windsor Castle where they stayed the night.
Victoria wouldn’t agree to take a long honeymoon. Albert wanted to take a two-week honeymoon, but Victoria told him she didn’t have that much time to take off from work. Clearly, even at age 20, she was devoted to the monarchy.
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