Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Wedding Before 'The King's Speech'

It's definitely the year for all things 'royal' - two weddings and of course, the triumph that is 'The King's Speech'. I just loved that film, the story, the costumes, the setting and let's be honest, Colin Firth is never going to make a film worse is he? But I was so taken with the obvious love between Bertie and Elizabeth that I started to do a little digging and find out more about them so here is a tiny insight into the wedding before 'The King's Speech....

After proposing several times and being refused, Elizabeth & Bertie finally became engaged in January 1923 and the wedding date was set for April 26th in the same year. The planning began in earnest although Elizabeth's father caused some consternation among those at the palace when he told a catering company that they would be able to be involved with the wedding. The Lord Chamberlain sniffily records in his diary that 'the idea was of course put aside."

Bertie & Elizabeth chose the engagement ring together - Vigo of Bond Street bought a selection to Buckingham Palace and they picked out a sapphire, diamond and platinum ring. Bertie was absolutely head over heels and wrote in his diary "my dream of some years has come true and the most wonderful person in the world is going to be my wife."

For the wedding, Elizabeth wore a dress of cream chiffon moiré with appliquéd silver lame, embroidered with gold thread and pearl beads. The dress had a deep square neckline and short sleeves, a straight cut bodice and a slightly gathered skirt with a short train set into the waist at the back. Over the dress she wore a long train of silk net with a lace edging and a lace veil both of which the queen had lent her. The veil was down low over her forehead, a simple wreath of myrtle leaves, white roses and white heather held it in place. Her shoes were ivory silk moiré embroidered with silver roses and she carried a bouquet of roses and lily of the valley.

The eight bridesmaids wore ivory coloured dresses of crepe de chine with bands of Nottingham lace, covered with white chiffon. Around their waists they had green tulle sashes held in place by a white rose and a silver thistle. In their hair, they wore a ring of white roses and myrtle leaves. Each bridesmaid also wore a gift from Bertie, a carved crystal brooch in the form of the white rose of York with a diamond centre carrying the initials E and A. The older bridesmaids wore silver shoes, the younger ones (who were carrying the train) wore white shoes and all the bridesmaids carried bouquets of white roses and white heather.

The ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey and as Elizabeth entered the abbey, she unexpectedly left her father’s side and went to place her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. This wasn't planned but was a spontaneous and much appreciated gesture by a country still recovering from the First World War. Like Kate Middleton soon will, Elizabeth entered the abbey as a commoner but left a member of the Royal Family.

Elizabeth and Bertie were cheered by crowds of thousands as they made their way back to Buckingham Palace for the celebration dinner attended by 60 guests. Keeping with tradition, they then cut their cake, a massive 9ft creation weighing in at 365kg!

After the dinner and the cake cutting, Elizabeth changed into her going away dress, a soft shade of dove grey crepe de chine romain teamed with a travelling coat wrap and as they left for their honeymoon in an open carriage, their friends and relations threw rose petals over them. More cheering crowds accompanied them to Waterloo where a special train awaited them for the journey to Surrey and their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey.

One of the first things Elizabeth did on her arrival was to send a telegram to her mother “arrived safely, deliciously peaceful here hope you are not all too tired, love Elizabeth”.

And if you're wondering what royal brides get as wedding presents, The Times reports that Elizabeth and Bertie received some of the following 'delightful' gifts - a grandfather clock, a set of travelling cases, an old silver soup tureen, an electric heater, 1,000 gold eyed needles and a leather chair. I imagine Elizabeth was much happier with the fabulous diamond & sapphire necklace she received from the Queen!

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