A Victorian favourite. The chapel has been the scene of numerous royal marriages, especially since the reign of Queen Victoria. Many of her children chose to be married at Windsor, particularly during the Queen’s reclusive widowhood. They include: in 1863, HRH The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and HRH Princess Alexandra of Denmark; and in 2005, Service of Prayer and Dedication following the Marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
Happy and glorious churches and cathedrals across the UK have hosted royal weddings through history.
Here we take a peek inside.
The royal church. For 1,000 years the 11th century abbey has been backdrop to royal weddings, coronations and funerals. Many royal weddings have been held at the Abbey during the 20th century. They include: 1923, The Duke of York (later King George VI) was married to Lady Elizabeth Bowe's-Lyon (later The Queen Mother); 1947, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Philip of Greece (later Duke of Edinburgh); and 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton.
White rose weddings. Among the historic and human stories which have shaped the Minster over 2,000 years are two Royal weddings, more than 600 years apart. In 1328 Edward III married Phillippa of Hainault; and, in 1961 The Duke of Kent married Katharine Worsley. After that ceremony up to 20,000 people passed through the Minster in three hours to see the setting of what was dubbed the ‘White Rose Wedding’.
Our ancient royal seat, the Cathedral has a rich history of links with royalty. Winchester was the capital of Anglo Saxon Wessex, and Old Minster the burial place of its West Saxon kings. In its 1,500 years of history the cathedral has hosted two lavish royal weddings: 1403, Henry IV and Joan of Navarre; and, 1554 Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain. In 1554 the nave was hung with Flemish tapestries, and a 16th century wooden and leather chair she is said to have used is in storage in the cathedral collection.
Think of St Paul's Cathedral and royal weddings and most people will conjure up images of Lady Diana Spencer walking down the aisle. But, there has been another. A mere 480 years ago, and at Old St Paul’s, another royal wedding took place, for another heir to the throne but one that would never be king. Two cathedral witnessing two weddings: 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer; and, 1501 Prince Arthur (eldest son of King Henry VII) and Princess Catherine.
One final wedding. Outstandingly rich, colourful and layered with history, the chapel’s vaulted ceiling was installed by Henry VIII in the 1530s and is the grand culmination of Tudor opulence at Hampton Court. It was here that in 1543 he married Catherine Parr, in the Queen’s Holy Day Closet which is now the Lady Chapel.
The Mother Church has only witnessed one royal wedding in its 1,400 years of history. In 1236 Henry III married Eleanor of Provence. She was crowned queen at Westminster shortly afterwards in a lavish ceremony.
A ruby & a lion. Royal guests at the house included Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Charles I with his queen, Henrietta Maria. In 1445 Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou here, and although little is known about the ceremony Margaret’s ring was made from a ring of gold ‘garnished with a fair ruby’. The bride also received an unusual wedding present, from a sadly unrecorded donor: a lion, which was duly conveyed to the menagerie at the Tower.
Inspiring all weddings, the small chapel, which seats 100, originally served as the royal wedding venue of choice. Queen Anne spearheaded the tradition in 1683. Queen Victoria married Prince Albert here in 1840, then King George V (known as Prince George, Duke of York at the time) followed suit at the palace in 1893. Their wedding started so many of our traditions, including a white dress and huge cake.
Beneath the antlers. The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips married England rugby player Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk in 2011. It was a relaxed, modern affair in glorious sunshine, a private wedding for friends beneath the Dutch style gable topped flat façade on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
Extraordinarily beautiful & feminine. Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster was the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III. She had been the Duke's lover for many years before their marriage in 1396 at Lincoln Cathedral. Their descendants were members of the Beaufort family, which played a major role in the Wars of the Roses. Katherine’s tomb and that of her daughter, are under a carved stone canopy in the sanctuary.