Gallant Duke weds cream of British girlhood! Daily Mail revisits Prince Albert’s romantic nuptials to Lady Elizabeth Bowes with original newspaper reports from 1923 (and the couple hosted TWO wedding breakfasts and honeymooned in Surrey)
- Ahead of Meghan and Harry’s nuptials the Daily Mail is remembering some of the best loved royal weddings
- This special edition was created from original reports of Prince Albert’s wedding to Lady Elizabeth Bowes
- The couple enjoyed a romantic ceremony followed by a low-key honeymoon in Surrey
As the nation prepares for Prince Harry’s nuptials to Meghan Markle on May 19, the Daily Mail is counting down the days by reflecting on the best loved royal nuptials.
In Thursday’s paper we share the original Daily Mail reports on the wedding of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on May 27, 1923.
Our new princess: The wedding day portrait of the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the Duke of York on April 26, 1923
THE BRIDE WORE A ROGUISH SMILE
The scene was set for the arrival at the Great West Door of the Abbey, with a wide space for the carriages and their escorts, stands packed with lucky owners of seats at five to ten guineas apiece, windows and roofs crowded and early sightseers, mostly women, lining the pavements.
For an hour, the onlookers were content with the sight of peers and Cabinet ministers driving in an endless stream of cars and taxicabs to the entrance. These served to whet the appetite for the sight which all had come to see — the gallant young Duke and his pretty girl bride.
Excitement began with the first notes of the National Anthem heralding the arrival of the Princess Royal. There were cheers along the line and waving of handkerchiefs for Princess Mary and her husband. So recently, it seemed, a bride herself, and now matron and mother, she looked charming in gold tissue and a big hat of the same colour.
Radiant: Lady Elizabeth leaves for the ceremony in her ivory bridal gown and full length veil
Man and wife: The Duke of York doffs his hat to the crowds as the newlyweds set off from the palace at the start of their honeymoon
Periscope: Enterprising way to see over the crowds’ heads as employed by this nurse in 1923
TENDER MOMENT ON THE BALCONY
With a wonderful smile born of great happiness,the dark-haired bride won the hearts of the thousands of people who awaited her on Constitution Hill and outside Buckingham Palace as she returned with her husband.
An uproarious welcome greeted her. The delighted people, cheering and waving handkerchiefs, saw in her not the wife of a royal Prince, but a happy bride.
The Duke and Duchess passed back into Buckingham Palace in warm April sunlight, which had followed dull chill hours.
There were blue patches of sky and bright sunshine moments afterwards, when, to the delight of everyone, they came out on the redand-yellow- draped balcony in front of the Palace.
With them were the King, who looked very happy, the Queen, Queen Alexandra and several other members of the Royal Family.
There occurred a simple act of thoughtfulness which appealed to the thousands of people massed in front of the palace. The Duke gently pulled his bride’s ermine wrap about her shoulders to protect her from the wind.
Roar upon roar of cheering greeted the Duke and his Duchess. The royal party began to leave the balcony.
At last only the bride and her husband remained. The bride waved her hand merrily. The Duke followed suit and they passed into the palace.
For Queen Alexandra, always the people’s favourite, there were more cheers. Barely had they subsided before the royal escort clattered over the hard roadway and the King and Queen, bowing and smiling, passed through the great door to see their son’s wedding.
Once more the voices of officers giving orders for the salute rang out, mingling with the cheers of the people. Round the corner swung the carriage with the bridegroom.
Smiling, self-possessed, evidently pleased with his reception and anticipating the ceremony without a trace of nervousness, the Duke of York, in the uniform of the Royal Air Force, stepped out of the carriage and passed under the awning.
And at last came the bride, with her civilian escort of mounted police. How the people cheered as she went by, craning to see her, leaning at perilous angles from windows and windowsills.
They saw a pretty young girl, with a roguish smile and a dainty profile, clad in a shimmering white bridal robe with veil thrown back for all to see her; the cream of British girlhood.
As she stepped in turn from the carriage carrying her bridal bouquet, she hesitated for a moment at the threshold of the Abbey and then, with head erect, moved with demure stateliness forward and so out of sight of the world outside.
Then came the miracle of a cold and wet morning turned by the alchemy of the sun into a radiant spring day, with warmth, light and happiness for all.
Time did not pass slowly for the throng round the Abbey. They spoke of the happiness that comes to a bride on whom the sun shines.
At 12:20pm the bells of the Abbey began a wedding peal, so loud and melodious voices were lost in it.
There was a stir at the door among the scarlet footmen. A policeman restrained with a fatherly hand the impetuous little daughter of a Cabinet minister who secured a place under the awning.
At last they came out, moved by the importance of the occasion and the gravity of the words which had made them man and wife. The Duke assisted his wife into the carriage. She seated herself with easy dignity.
He followed, sitting at her left hand, as much at his ease as he had been an hour before, but also graver. In the Abbey, he seemed to have lost the last trace of the boy and to have taken on the full stature of the man.
NOT ONE WEDDING BREAKFAST BUT TWO!
The wedding breakfast was served in two rooms in Buckingham Palace. In the state dining room, seated at six tables, were 66 members of the two families, with the bridesmaids. In the ball supper room were 57 other guests.
The breakfast began at about 2pm. On the right of the King sat the bride, one of the loveliest and merriest brides that has ever lighted up the apartments of the Palace.
Next to her, in his pale blue uniform, sat the bridegroom, glowing with health and looking as happy as the girl beside him.
On the King’s left was the bride’s mother, the Countess of Strathmore, and beside her was the Prince of Wales. On each of the six circular tables were large and elaborate vases of gold, filled with pink tulips and sweet smelling white lilac. The tables were set with plates of gold.
Towards 3pm the King, standing with a glass of champagne in his hand, proposed the following toast: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to drink to the health, long life, and happiness of the bride and bridegroom.’
At the King’s words the guests in the room rose with glasses charged.
Directly afterwards the guests passed into the Green Drawing-Room, where a giant wedding cake set on a silver stand towered to a white and delicate spire. There, while the guests sipped their coffee and smoked, the ceremony of cutting the cake took place. The bride tried to cut it herself but she found it too difficult and the Duke of Connaught came to her help.
When the slice had been removed, it was cut into small pieces and passed round among the guests.
The gathering was of a most informal character and lasted till about 4pm. The King and Queen and the Princes moved from group to group and chatted and joked and discussed the wonderful scenes of the morning.
A FAIRY FIGURE DRESSED IN WHITE AND SILVER
By a Woman Observer
The sun suddenly broke through the clouds, an augury of happiness, its rays dimming the artificial light as the dainty bride stepped into the Abbey.
A fairy figure in white and silver, she came to her royal bridegroom, followed by her white and silver retinue of England’s prettiest maids.
Dainty: Lady Elizabeth in her stunning wedding dress described as ‘a fairy figure in white and silver’
The bridegroom and his brothers had entered a while before, a manly trio. The Air Force blue, Guards red, and dark blue of the Hussars uniform made a pleasant contrast. All three were affectionately kissed by Queen Alexandra.
Then they waited just inside the altar rails, the Duke of York turning expectantly to watch his bride’s progress down the aisle.
Hours before this happy meeting, the occasion had started with a great emptiness in the Abbey. The sombreness was broken by the red carpet which stretched from the entrance to the altar rails and by the brilliance of the wonderful gold plate which stood on the high altar.
Then gradually came the congregation — wonderfully gowned women and brilliantly garbed men. Soon every seat was filled, making a pageant of colour against the grey-brown stonework.
SNAPSHOTS OF THE COUPLE’S DAY
- It is estimated by experts of the underground railway and the London General Omnibus Company that one million people gathered to watch the wedding processions.
- A few people stayed all night at specially favoured spots near the Abbey and along the Mall.
- Royal salutes were fired at the home and foreign naval stations, and in the evening the ships were illuminated.
- Hundreds of people were present at a special service at Leeds Parish Church at the same time as the Abbey ceremony.
- As the royal carriages passed the Cenotaph on the way to the Abbey all the occupants and the attendant officials saluted.
- Many people were taken ill in the crowd near Buckingham Palace and had to be removed to a casualty station inside the courtyard.
- The crowds were very good-humoured and there was little for the 8,750 police (including 1,000 special constables) on duty to do.
- The French government has offered a beautiful work, entitled La Chasse, from the national porcelain factory at Sevres, as a wedding present.
- A number of girls from the Guards School, in their picturesque long cloaks, were given a special place near the main gate of the palace.
- The first aeroplane to go from London to the Irish Free State since its establishment left yesterday afternoon with Press photographs of the ceremony for Dublin.
- Six hundred and seventy-five officers and nurses of the St John Ambulance Brigade on duty in the streets dealt with more than 1,200 cases, and five patients had to be sent to hospital.
- There were great rejoicings in Forfarshire, the home of Lady Elizabeth, yesterday, and the workers on the family estate of Glamis finished up the day’s festivities with a huge bonfire.
- There was a great rush to enter the Abbey after the ceremony. Although the Dean and Chapter imposed a charge of 1s, which will go to the Restoration Fund, there was a procession of people until the Abbey closed at 7.30pm.
- The first pictures of the Royal wedding to appear on the Continent of Europe will be published in The Continental Daily Mail tomorrow morning. They consist of a magnificent page of scenes of the ceremony together with a complete account of it.
Very heavy inward traffic began at 8am and continued until 11am. It was dealt with by six-coach trains on the Tube railways and by additions to the omnibus services. Some 3,100 motor-omnibuses were in service during the day.
As the guests were shown to their places, one could glimpse the gorgeous frocks and jewels the women wore.
Quiet shades predominated, probably because their wearers realised how well they would act as a foil to the scarlet and silver, blue and gold of the men’s uniforms.
Beige, mastic, and all variations of brown were much favoured. Greys and violets were also noticeably in evidence, and touches of jade showed up among many paler shades of green.
Furs, either coats or stoles, chiefly of ermine or sable, were worn by the majority of women, although as a contrast there were some beautifully embroidered crepe de Chine shawls.
There were many guests who wore frocks without the addition of a wrap, but the majority had on long cloaks or coats, composed of tinsel brocades and other gorgeous materials. Several of the cloaks had deep shawl collars bordered with fur.
One especially attractive Paisley coat hung in long straight lines and was bordered with fur.
With it was worn a small black lace hat with a trail of rich red roses falling over one side of the brim.
Ostrich feathers were much in evidence as hat trimmings. A lovely white plume ornamented a large black hat, worn with a black lace gown and white ermine stole. A Havana brown straw hat had a brown ostrich feather drooping over its brim.
Then, after much hushed expectation, the royal procession entered to add more colour to the scene.
The Queen looked beautiful in her dignified gown of aquamarine blue and silver. The lace-like overdress, draped in graceful lines, sparkled with blue crystals.
A gown of deep violet and gold was worn by Queen Alexandra, with an ermine stole. Princess Mary looked charming in a lace frock, gold cloak and cream hat.
THE VAST CROWD ROARED LIKE A PEAL OF THUNDER
When the Duke and Duchess of York left Buckingham Palace for Waterloo Station on their way to Polesden Lacey, near Great Bookham, Surrey, for their honeymoon, they rode in an open carriage drawn by four grey horses.
As they went, the Queen and Princess Mary pelted them with confetti from the balcony.
In the forecourt, where the carriage was waiting, there were the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Prince Henry, all liberally supplied with confetti, which they used with great effect.
Many thousands of people were waiting in spite of the rain to give a parting cheer as the bride and bridegroom drove off on their honeymoon journey.
All smiles! The Duke and Duchess of York leaving for Waterloo Station after their wedding
Waterloo claims to see away more brides than any other London railway station. But it has certainly never seen a happier one than this dainty Duchess of York, daughter-in-law of the King.
A great crowd thronged the station approaches and many privileged people were grouped on each side of the crimson carpet laid from the carriageway to the royal saloon. On platform 11 the special train was waiting, transformed into a delightful fragrant bower.
LONDON PARTIED UNTIL 2AM
By nightfall the smile of happiness had been carried all over London. In the hotels, you saw it among the festoons of flowers and flags.
Ballrooms were so changed by garlands their architects would not have recognised them. The dancers whirled to the tunes of smiling players — extensions were granted until 2am.
Stuffed love birds complete with shepherds’ crooks were distributed at the Metropole, Grand Hotel and the Grosvenor. Other surprises included the Berkeley wedding dinner of old English dishes, including boar’s head, and bouquets for women at Hyde Park Hotel.
Meanwhile, crowds of revellers thronged in the West End until midnight and after.
At Trafalgar Square thousands enjoyed dances, noisy rattles, trumpets and confetti.
The Duchess’s compartment was an enchanting picture. It was festooned with smilax and York roses, its curtains caught up with clusters of white carnations and lilies of the valley, with vases of white heather, lilies and roses on the tables and thumb-pots of growing heather on the window ledges.
White heather abounded. It was worn even on the footplate of the engine by driver A. J. Wiggs and his fireman T. Saberton, and Inspector Symonds who accompanied them, — who more than once drove Queen Victoria’s train.
Just after 4:30pm, the honeymoon procession reached the station. The clatter of mounted police and the jingle of the escort of Life Guards resounded under the glass roof, and then a swelling roar from the crowd that rolled overhead like a peal of thunder.
Here were bride and bridegroom, the former with so sweet and happy a smile, her groom looking so very proud. Now the sun, which all day had been loyal in fits, made sweet amends at the end. A strong ray shot across the crimson carpet, right to the saloon door. Everybody noticed it with delight at so perfect a compensation.
The crowd saw the dainty, dove-grey bride with her radiant face as she trod that sunny path and stood in the doorway of the coach while her husband spoke his farewell. For nearly a minute she was framed in flowers.
Then the Duke sprang in beside her, the guard raised his flag and a spotless tank engine, Number 58, drew them out of sight. There never was a prouder little tank engine. It started off with energetic puffs as though it meant to brag all the way to Bookham.
Some time later, the bridal train pulled up in the station of Great Bookham, in the midst of a forest of wildly fluttering banners and flags. Flanking the station is a long fence of wooden palings, and pressed up against this and ranged on the roadside nearby was practically the whole population of the village.
In a moment, the bride and bridegroom, smiling happily and bowing to right and left, had entered their waiting motorcar and started the two-mile run to Polesden Lacey, the great house which has been lent to them for the beginning of their honeymoon by the Hon Mrs Ronald Greville.
In the village of Great Bookham there was a brief halt to receive from the local parish council an address of welcome.
When Mr D. W. McFarlane, chairman of the council, began to read the address, the Duke leaned out of the window of his car and said: ‘If you really don’t mind, I should like to take the address with me. We are both very tired.’
‘Oh, certainly, your Royal Highness,’ was the reply, and a bouquet of red roses from Miss E. McFarlane, the chairman’s daughter, having been taken aboard, the journey was resumed.
This special edition was created from original reports from the Daily Mail of April, 27, 1923
EARL’S LETTERS REVEAL THEIR THREE-YEAR COURTSHIP
The interesting fact that the Duke’s courtship of Lady Elizabeth had lasted about three years is disclosed in a letter from the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
It was received yesterday morning by Mrs J. Gane, of Bath, an old retainer of the family, who sent a letter of remembrance to the Earl. The bride’s father wrote:
Golding partners: Lady Elizabeth lines up a shot to the green during her honeymoon in Polesden
Dear Mrs Gane,
I appreciate your kind remembrance and your letter very much, and also thank you sincerely for your congratulations on my daughter Elizabeth’s approaching marriage to the Duke of York.
We are quite pleased, as His Royal Highness has a high sense of duty and is a fine type of the young Englishman, and has been a devoted suitor for two or three years.
Although we are grieved to lose our daughter, who is adored by all our family, it is a pleasure to hear from old friends, as it brings back memories of the past.
So thank you again for your letter of congratulations.
Yours very truly,
Soulmates: The happy couple enjoy a woodland walk during their honeymoon in Surrey
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