The Royal Weddings: a Historical Perspective

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Kate Middleton Royal WeddingNow that the dust has settled from Kate Middleton’s 2011 royal wedding, I thought it might be fun to take a step back and look at some of the previous royal weddings from a historical perspective. 

So I started searching online and I actually found a video that goes into a lot of detail about the history of the royal weddings.  Watch it immediately below, or peruse my detailed synopsis beneath the video.  Enjoy!

The Notion of Pure Ancestry

Interestingly, back in the day, the British Royal Family was known for inter-marriages, which was done for political purposes as well as to ensure “pure ancestry” (funny how incest used to be considered “pure”!). 

At least this practice was relatively infrequent and has petered out over the last few decades.  Plus, members of the Royal Family never married anyone closer than a first cousin (for example, Queen Elizabeth the second and Prince Phillip were only second cousins when they married in 1947).

The Venue

Westminster Abbey has been the most prominent venue for royal weddings since the end of the 19th century, although records indicate that the venue was used for royal weddings as far back as the year 1100 (a very good year, by the way…).  Queen Elizabeth the 2nd was married here, as were many others.  Interestingly, although Princess Diana was not married here, it’s where her funeral was held!

The Dresses

The Royal Family can actually be credited with sparking the trend of the white wedding dress.  Queen Victoria was the first one to wear white as a bride when she married Prince Albert in 1840.  Prior to that, royal brides actually wore colorful dresses – even black!

The Flowers

The royal bridal bouquet usually includes a branch of myrtle, which is also known as the herb of love.  However the bloom does not just come from any old plant – it comes from the bush that Queen Victoria planted when she got married in 1840.  And that bush actually originated from Queen Victoria’s bouquet!

Since 1923, the royal brides have all honored fallen soldiers with their bouquets.  Specifically, every royal bride now places her flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior located at Westminster Abbey.

The Wedding Rings

In terms of the wedding rings, the hot trend over the last century or so has been the Welsh gold wedding band.  This type of gold is unique because it has a pinkish hue to it.  This trend started in 1923 when the Queen Mother got a ring made from a gold nugget extracted from a Welsh mine.  The queen wound up giving a piece of this gold to her grandson, Prince William, which he used for his wife’s wedding band.

The Vows

One interesting fact from the video is that Princess Diana was the first royal bride to break the custom of the standard wedding vows.  At her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, she broke a wedding tradition, dating back to the 17th century, by refusing to use the word “obey” in her vows.  Instead, Diana said she would “love, comfort, honor and keep Prince Charles in sickness and in health.”  Perhaps that’s why they got divorced 15 years later!

The Cost

Obviously royal weddings are huge affairs filled with tons of grandeur.  Back in the old days, British taxpayers always footed the bill for these huge affairs. 

Luckily, that changed with Kate Middleton’s wedding, as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles paid most of the tab.  This was good news for British taxpayers, as the wedding cost an estimated $20-$35 million; in fact, it was one of the most expensive weddings of all time.  Yikes, that’ll blow the ole’ wedding budget!


I sincerely hope you enjoyed this historical overview of the royal weddings as much as I enjoyed learning about it.  Royal weddings are truly some of the most extravagant affairs you will ever see.  So, learning about their history is always interesting.  Enjoy!

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