King George V was on the throne and had been since the 6th May 1910 and his wife, Queen Mary, continued to stand steadfastly by his side. This was a year of two Prime Ministers – Andrew Bonar Law resigned in May owing to ill health and was succeeded by Stanley Baldwin who went on to win a Conservative majority in the unusual December General Election.
It was also a year of sadness as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s fifth child, Princess Helena, died in June and former Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law, died in October.
The year was 1923 and for one royal couple, it certainly was a year of happiness. On April 26th 1923, The Duke of York married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey.
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For The Duke of York, marrying his sweetheart was not all plain sailing. He had first proposed to Elizabeth in 1921 though she had turned him down because of the fears of royal life. In March 1922, Albert proposed again but was once again turned down. Although Queen Mary felt that Elizabeth was the right woman to make Albert happy, she refused to interfere.
It wasn’t until January 1923 when Prince Albert proposed for a third time did Lady Elizabeth finally accept. Despite Elizabeth’s ongoing misgivings about the life she was about to embark on, the date of the wedding was set for April 26th. Little did Elizabeth know at the time that just thirteen years into her marriage, she would become Queen.
On the day of the wedding, Lady Elizabeth left her Mayfair home to travel to Westminster Abbey. Crowds had gathered on the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the blushing bride as she made her way across London to the Abbey.
Elizabeth was accompanied by eight bridesmaids who were:
- The Lady Mary Cambridge, daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Cambridge. Niece of Queen Mary.
- The Lady May Cambridge, daughter of Princess Alice and the Earl of Athlone. Niece of Queen Mary.
- The Lady Mary Thynn, daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Bath.
- The Lady Katherine Hamilton, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn.
- The Hon Diamond Hardinge, daughter of Lord and Lady Hardinge.
- The Hon Cecilia Bowes Lyon, daughter of Lord and Lady Glamis. Niece of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
- The Hon Mary Elizabeth Elphinstone, daughter of Lord and Lady Elphinstone, Niece of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
- Miss Betty Cator, future Sister-in-Law of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
Shortly before the ceremony at Westminster Abbey King George V, The Duke of York’s father, had bestowed upon Albert the Most Ancient Order of the Thistle – the Scottish counterpart of the Garter.
The wedding procession began with The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Archbishop of York, The Bishop of London and the Primate of Scotland. The Royal Family procession began with Princess Mary and her husband, Viscount Lascelles, followed by Prince George. Queen Alexandra followed by her sister, Marie Dowager Empress of Russia. King George V and Queen Mary followed with His Majesty in full dress uniform of an Admiral.
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Albert was accompanied by his brothers, The Prince of Wales and Prince Henry. Albert was in full Royal Air Force Group Captain’s uniform while The Prince of Wales wore a Welsh Guard uniform.
As cheers erupted from outside, the Abbey knew that Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon had just arrived. Elizabeth’s procession down the aisle was to the boy’s choir singing Lead Us Heavenly Father. As Elizabeth proceeded down the aisle, she did something that would become a tradition for royal brides in the future. As Elizabeth passed the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior she laid her bouquet of white roses on top. Her brother Fergus was an Officer in the Black Watch Regiment and was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
Members of the British Royal Family as well as Foreign Royalty were guests at the wedding ceremony. Below is just a small number of the guests who attended:
- The Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
- King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway.
- Princess Maud of Fife.
- Queen Marie of Romania.
- The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
- Lord Louis Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten.
- King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain.
- The Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
- Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark.
- Prince Valdemar of Denmark.
- Princess Ingrid of Sweden.
Following the ceremony, a wedding breakfast was held at Buckingham Palace where fourteen wedding cakes had been made for the occasion. The most magnificent of these cakes weighed a massive 300 pounds. Following the breakfast, the newly married royal couple made an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
The Duke and Duchess of York spent their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey, the home of Mrs Ronald Greville. They also spent part of their honeymoon at Glamis Castle and at Frogmore House, Windsor.
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After thirteen years of marriage, Bertie would go on to become King George VI following the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII. Elizabeth would become his Queen. Afterr nearly thirty years of marriage, King George VI died on 6th February 1952 leaving Elizabeth widowed and heartbroken. She would go on to forge a new identity as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, outliving her husband by over fifty years.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia