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Last year, for the 75th anniversary, I learned quite a bit about the Royal Wedding between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip while reading The Gown by Jennifer Robson.
Next week is the 100th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother. On the 26th of April 1923, Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were married.
At the time of the wedding, The Duke of York, known as Bertie in the family, was second in line to the throne behind his brother the future King Edward VIII. Edward abdicated in 1936 making Bertie the unwilling and unprepared King of England.
There are quite a few differences between these two weddings, 25 years apart.
The 1923 wedding was not broadcast on the radio, even though the BBC wanted to do that. According to the Wikipedia article, the idea was vetoed by the Archbishop of Canterbury who was concerned “that men might listen to it in public houses”. In 1947, apparently, that objection disappeared into the normality of broadcasting big events.
I’m surprised at how different the wedding gowns looked. The 1947 dress (see my review of The Gown for a couple of pictures) still epitomizes a fairytale wedding dress to my eyes. The 1923 dress seems very much of its time.
The reason that the bride isn’t holding a bouquet in this photograph is because, in an unplanned gesture, she left it at the base of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey to honor her brother who was killed in World War I. This became a tradition of royal brides, although the bouquet is now taken to the tomb after the wedding photography is completed.
There is silent newsreel footage from 1923 of the processions and crowds on the wedding day, but not of the wedding itself.
The 1947 British Pathé newsreel was a talkie. It includes a couple of still photographs of the couple at the altar and footage of the recessional.
I suppose the one thing that rivals the royal wedding in British pomp and circumstance is the coronation. I’m looking forward to the first coronation in my lifetime in a couple of weeks on May 6. If you’re excited, too, check out these fun details from the New York Times.