Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Weddings - The Starting Of A Tradition

There will be, of course, many traditionally elements to tomorrow's Royal Wedding - it's to be expected and to many people, this is part of what makes the event special and uniquely British. From the wording of the invitations through to the tradition of naming the wedding breakfast's dessert after the bride (if you were at our current Queen's wedding, you would have been treated to Bombe Glacee Princess Elizabeth!), there are some things that just won't change.

However, when Elizabeth Bowes Lyon married Prince Albert in 1923, she started one a tradition that it's expected Kate Middleton will also follow - she laid her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.

The Tomb was created in 1920 when the anonymous remains of a World War I combatant were interred in the Abbey. The body was selected in a completely random way - no-one knows where it's a soldier, sailor or airman inside the Tomb. The idea came from a young army padre who thought it would be a fitting memorial to all who died and did not have their bodies returned to their families and it is one of the most visited war graves in the world.

On Elizabeth's wedding day, the Tomb was the only part of the aisle left uncovered by carpet and as she entered Westminster Abbey, she unexpectedly stopped and laid her bouquet on the Tomb. No-one knew she was going to do this and she herself later said she had not planned it but that it seemed like the right thing to do at that time. In the post-wedding photos, Elizabeth doesn't have her bouquet although all her bridesmaids still have theirs.

Since Elizabeth's spontaneous gesture, many Royal brides have copied her but most prefer to do so as they leave rather than enter the Abbey.  It has been reported that Kate will be doing the same tomorrow and as the Tomb lies right in the middle of the nave, she and her Father will have to walk around it as walking on it is not allowed. We'll have to wait and see whether she stops to place the bouquet after the ceremony or whether the bouquet will be kept for photos and then returned to the Abbey later.

It will also be interesting to see what traditions this wedding starts - Kate & William have a charity wedding list and a trees lining the aisle. I wonder how long it'll be before we see 'wedding trees' as a new trend for all brides!

UPDATE - Saturday 30th April.
It's been confirmed today that Kate's bouquet has been returned to the Abbey and placed on the Tomb. So the Duchess of Cambridge continues the tradition...

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