Fairy Tales, Royal Weddings and HEAs! a Guest Post from Nancy Lawrence

Nancy Lawrence joined Austen Authors on May 19, 2018, the day of Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle. However, she reminds us other fabulous weddings in this piece on fairy tales, royal weddings, and living happily ever after. Enjoy! 

Hello! I’m so excited to be making my first official blog post as an Austen Author; and I’m especially glad to do so on such a special day.

After all, it’s a royal wedding day, and as you read this, I’ll be parked in my favorite chair, sipping tea and nibbling on scones as I watch America’s Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry exchange their wedding vows. I have to admit, I’m a little ga-ga over the whole thing.

An invitation to the royal wedding, sent, not by the bride’s family, but by the Prince of Wales (Prince Harry’s father).

With the time difference, I’ve been awake since Oh-Dark-Thirty this morning, taking in every little detail of the processions, the famous guests, the ladies’ hats, the gentlemen’s suits, and everything else that makes a royal wedding special.

After centuries of practice, British royals have learned how to add a fairy-tale element to all their wedding ceremonies, from the bride’s story-book arrival at the church in a state carriage . . .

Lady Diana Spencer, riding to her wedding in the royal glass coach.

. . . to her dramatic walk down the aisle on her father’s arm.

Kate Middleton’s walk down the aisle on her father’s arm at Westminster Abbey in 2011.

It’s no wonder that the British people love a royal wedding, and I’m happy to join my ooh’s and aah’s to theirs as we watch the entire event unfold together.

And since a fair share of royal marriages occurred during Jane Austen’s lifetime, I have to wonder if, like me, Jane got caught up in the spectacle of those moments, too.

 

A Royal Marriage in 1795

Jane was 19 years old when Caroline of Brunswick married George, Prince of Wales on April 8, 1795. The marriage itself was a disaster, but the wedding was magnificent. Jane would have read details of the wedding day in the newspaper.

This is a portion of an article that appeared in the London Times on April 9, 1795.

As was the custom at the time for royal brides, Princess Caroline wore a gown of silver tissue and enough dazzling jewels to signal her and her home country’s wealth. Her gown was styled in the classic Georgian “sack-back.”

Caroline of Brunswick in her wedding dress (1795).

Her train was made of lace and ermine-lined velvet; and next to her heart, Caroline wore a painted miniature of her intended husband, the Prince of Wales.

The marriage of Caroline of Caroline of Brunswick and the Prince of Wales in 1795.

The ceremony took place at night in the chapel at St. James Palace. Under the candlelight, Caroline’s gown must have glowed and sparkled.

On her way to the palace, Caroline drove through cheering crowds. After the ceremony, the mobs pressed close to the couple’s carriage to wish them joy in their life together—a wish that, unfortunately, did not come true.

 

A Royal Marriage in 1816

Jane Austen was forty years old when the next major royal wedding took place.

Princess Charlotte Augusta

On May 2, 1816 Princess Charlotte—daughter of the aforementioned Princess Caroline and Prince George (and by then Prince Regent)—married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

The ceremony was held in the Crimson Drawing Room at Carlton House, the Regent’s London residence.

The Crimson Drawing Room at Carlton House.

Even though Jane didn’t attend the ceremony (she was probably at Chawton at the time), she had a special knowledge of the location because she had been a guest at Carlton House only five months before.

It was during Jane’s tour of the Prince Regent’s library at Carlton House in November 1815 that she received an invitation to dedicate a future work to the Prince Regent—an invitation she accepted. Her 1816 novel Emma includes a proper dedication to the Prince at the front of the book.

The dedication page from Jane Austen’s novel Emma, published in 1816 (from the Royal Collection).

No doubt Jane Austen read the newspaper articles about the royal wedding of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold.

A depiction of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold’s wedding ceremony.

The newspapers were filled with accounts of the day, including descriptions of the crowds that gathered outside St. James’s Palace, hoping for a glimpse of the royal bride or groom on their way to the ceremony:

From the Times of London, May 3, 1816.

The crowds showed particular affection for Prince Leopold. The Times described how the crowds of people cheered for him, and thronged about his carriage, impeding his progress. The crowd even tried to free his horses and pull the prince’s carriage to Carlton House themselves.

A newspaper account of Prince Leopold’s ride through London streets on his wedding day. From The Times of London, May 3, 1816.

Prince Leopold endured their enthusiasm with patience and indulgent good humor.

Naturally, newspapers described Princess Charlotte’s wedding gown in great detail. Like her mother’s gown, Princess Charlotte’s dress was silver, and sparkled with her every move.

Princess Charlotte’s wedding gown.

The May 1816 issue of La Belle Assembleé described the princess’ dress this way:

Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament.

This detail of the bodice on the princess’ gown shows how it must have sparkled like diamonds on her wedding day.

And like her mother before her, the princess wore a wealth of diamonds—in her necklace, at her wrists in bracelets, in earrings, and in diamond rosebuds arranged in her hair.

The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony, and as soon as it was complete, the happy couple kissed their family members good-bye, changed their clothes, and immediately set off, unchaperoned, to begin their married life together.

An 1816 souvenir engraving of the royal wedding, available for purchase by the public.

By today’s standards, those royal weddings were surprisingly simple. In our modern times we’ve come to expect British royal weddings to be magnificent in scope, with many nods to traditions and precedents.

Modern Royal Weddings

The first royal wedding I saw (on television, along with 750 million other viewers around the world) was the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. I was enthralled by the pageantry.

I remember hearing the roar of the crowd when the bride arrived at the church and stepped from her glass-paneled carriage onto the pavement.

Lady Diana Spencer’s brides’ maids work to unfurl her wedding gown train from the carriage, in one of many memorable moments from her 1981 wedding.

And I recall hearing the crowds cheer even louder when—inch by inch—Lady Diana’s attendants unfurled her incredibly long train as she slowly ascended the steps of the cathedral. It was one of many show-stopping moments that day.

The wedding itself was, as the Archbishop of Canterbury famously said:

“. . . the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”

I’ve been an ardent watcher of royal weddings ever since, including the story-book wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011.

The newly-married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drive past cheering crowds in a procession to Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony in 2011.

I expect today’s wedding will have a little bit of the fairy tale magic, too. That’s why I’ll be among the millions of people watching when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; and I’ll be watching when they exchange wedding vows, and leave the chapel for their reception.

A modern touch to a traditional wedding. The Cambridges leave their wedding reception at Buckingham Palace in 2011.

The truth is, I enjoy watching that special brand of fairy tale the British royals are so adept at creating; it feeds the romantic streak in me, and inspires me to create stories with happily-ever-afters.

What about you? Will you be watching the royal wedding? If you have a favorite royal wedding moment, please share it!

 

Nancy Lawrence is the author of Mary and the Captain, Pride and Prejudice continuation in which Miss Mary Bennet receives the romantic happily-ever-after she was always meant to have. Nancy’s next Jane Austen inspired novel will be released this summer.

 

 

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in Austen Authors, British history, family, George IV, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, Vagary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fairy Tales, Royal Weddings and HEAs! a Guest Post from Nancy Lawrence

  1. Buturot says:

    Thank you for sharing.Had always been fascinated with royal weddings, like in fairy tales…

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