Part 1 of our new series looking at the brides who chose Windsor Castle as the venue to make their wedding vows.
Prince Albert, the future King Edward VII, married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in St George’s chapel on the 10th March 1863.
Queen Victoria’s eldest son, affectionately known as ‘Bertie’ met with his arranged, 16-year-old future bride in the Cathedral at Speyer, Germany in 1861, which led to a proposal the year after. The Queen, still in mourning for her beloved Albert, watched the marriage ceremony in 1863, from the Catherine of Aragon closet.
Following the marriage at Windsor, Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia became Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901, and Empress consort of India.
Alexandra was quite popular and was considered fashionable by many women at that time.
Her Royal Highness the Princess Helena Augusta Victoria was Queen Victoria’s fifth child and third daughter. Her birth was a difficult one requiring the monarch to rest and recover. Her father remarked she, "came into this world quite blue, but she is quite well now."
She grew to be a lively outspoken child and, in the time leading up to making a match to benefit the Royal Family, she enjoyed a flirtation with a palace librarian which caused considerable controversy. Queen Victoria despatched the offending member of staff back to his homeland Germany and the hunt for a suitable husband began.
As a fifth child, a powerful European match was off the table. Also, her appearance was said by her biographer, to be dowdy, chunky and double-chinned. To compound matters, the Queen required her daughter to live nearby to keep her close.
The choice of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein was politically difficult due to the territories fought over by Prussia and Denmark. The marriage caused a rift in the family with Princess Alexandra who never accepted Christian, despite the fact they were third cousins.
Engaged on the 5th December 1865, they were married on the 5th July 1866, in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria wore a white mourning cap and a black mourning dress to give away her daughter.
Queen Victoria never forgave Alexandra for her treatment of Christian, later writing, "Bertie is most affectionate and kind but Alix is by no means what she ought to be. It will be long, if ever, before she regains my confidence."
Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
Louisa Caroline Alberta was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. She was a bright and artistically talented child and her inquisitive nature earned her the nickname ‘Little Miss Why’.
Louise, like her sister before her, developed affection for a member of staff. Queen Victoria removed the Tutor who later became Canon at Westminster Abbey and the search for a husband was on.
Being a pretty Princess and acting as the Queen’s unofficial secretary, the choice was wide as Louise was considered Victoria’s most beautiful daughter. However, the press hinted at romantic encounters and she was a staunch supporter of the feminist movement. The Queen again insisted that Louise live close by.
The headstrong Louise announced she did not want to marry a Royal Prince and stated her desire to marry John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, a British nobleman and fourth Governor General of Canada.
The Prince of Wales was opposed to his sister marrying a subject, but the Queen insisted that the marriage would bring new blood into the family and therefore would “strengthen the family morally and physically”.
Princess Louise married John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne and heir to the Dukedom of Argyll on the 21st March 1871. Wearing a veil of Honiton Lace that she herself had designed, she was walked up the aisle by her mother and two elder brothers, the Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh accompanied by eight bridesmaids.
The marriage had its difficulties, but long separations kept them together and they reconciled in later life when the Duchess nursed her husband through illness. Louise was distraught when her husband passed away, suffering intense loneliness and a nervous breakdown. In a letter written to a friend she said, “My loneliness without the Duke is quite terrible."
Join us next time for a look at more Windsor brides and their lives. We hope you enjoyed this first part of the series.