Queen Victoria Wedding Veil – Royal Central


Queen Victoria’s wedding veil was an object of singular emotion because of the enormous sentimental value it represented to her in personal terms and the context in which she last wore it. She wore the monumental day – February 10, 1840 – the day she decided that in fact had been the ‘the happiest‘ of his life. On the morning of her wedding, a day that began with rain falling from the windows of her bedroom at Buckingham Palace, she would wear a white satin gown with Honiton lace, a lace that would become proverbial in her own family for weddings of her daughters and daughters-in-law, because she insisted that their dresses be adorned with them (Kay Staniland, In Royal Fashion, 120).

With a simple crown of orange blossoms, she dressed as a bride, undoubtedly royal, but as the future wife of her “The most beloved husband”, as she wrote in a little note to Prince Albert on the morning of the wedding; she wanted to stand in front of the altar of the Chapel Royal, St James’s, as her ‘always faithful Victoria R ‘. She wore the diamond-set sapphire brooch, an item of personal importance, a gift from Prince Albert on the eve of their wedding, which she wore pinned prominently to her lace bodice; So sacred was this sapphire brooch in emotional terms, that the Queen bequeathed it to the crown upon her death. Due to the shortness of her train, the bridesmaids (whom she drew and whose white silk and pink dresses she had helped “draw”) had a hard time not tripping over them as they stood. headed towards the altar.

When the Queen’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice married Prince Heinrich ‘Henry’ of Battenberg in 1885 at Whippingham Church, where the Royal Family worshiped in close proximity to Osborne, this beloved girl turned dressed for her wedding in the bedroom of her father, Prince Albert, just like her older sister, Princess Alice had done in 1862 as she dressed for her wedding to Prince Ludwig “Louis” of Hesse. This child had the unique privilege of being allowed to wear his mother’s wedding veil for her wedding ceremony, which the Queen had in fact worn for the baptisms of her nine children and also at the wedding of her youngest son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, on the occasion of his marriage to Princess Hélène de Waldeck and Pyrmont. Princess Beatrice also wore a white satin wedding dress as the Queen had done in 1840. Her lace trims were her mother’s wedding lace (HRH the Duchess of York with Benita Stoney, Victoria and Albert: A Family Life at Osborne House, pp. 189-190).

Queen Victoria’s Lace Bridal Veil, c. 1850, printed 1889-1891 by photographers Hughes & Mullins. The queen’s bonnet and veil were photographed together; here the queen’s wedding crown is placed over the wedding veil. The practice was not uncommon in the Queen’s family; the wedding veil of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Louise, has been pictured. (Hughes & Mullins[UnitedStatesPublicdomainorPublicdomainviaWikimediaCommons)[domainepublicdesÉtats-UnisoudomainepublicviaWikimediaCommons)[UnitedStatesPublicdomainorPublicdomainviaWikimediaCommons)

Queen Victoria was painted by fashionable portrait painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1847, in a portrait of herself, as a gift to Prince Albert on their seventh wedding anniversary. The Queen wrote that she was sitting for Winterhalter ‘I am wearing my dear bridal veil.’ (cit., Staniland, 121). She also wore for the portrait, her crown of orange blossoms, which she had carefully preserved and the adornment she wore on her wedding day, made from the Turkish diamonds she had received as a gift from the Sultan in 1838. Sir George Hayter painted the wedding ceremony at St James’s Palace in his large picture Queen Victoria’s wedding, February 10, 1840 although oddly enough, the art does not show the Queen wearing the sapphire brooch to which she attached such deep importance, so it is curious that the Queen’s obsessive commitment to true detail lets this omission pass. Queen Victoria’s court train did not survive (Staniland, 122).

On the morning of her wedding, the Queen noted in her diary: “Monday FEBRUARY 10 – the last time I slept alone. I got up at ¼ to 9 – good, & after sleeping well; & breakfast at ½ p. 9 ‘ (cit., Elizabeth Longford, Queen Victoria, 151). It was only then that she began to describe it toilet: ‘I had combed my hair and put on the crown of orange flowers… dressed… I was wearing a white satin dress with a very deep frill of Honiton, imitation of the past. I wore my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings, and Albert’s gorgeous sapphire brooch (cit., Staniland, 122). The veil was not removed until after the register was signed at Buckingham Palace, after which the Queen ascended upstairs and transformed into ‘white silk dress trimmed with swansdown, and a beanie with orange blossoms’ (cit., Ibid., 122). The beanie, her starting cap, was kept by the Queen and it survives in the Royal Collection, a happy holdover from her carriage ride with Prince Albert on their honeymoon at Windsor Castle.

The Queen’s wedding veil was photographed in its own right, for Queen Victoria’s private negative albums. Taken by an unknown photographer, the image is touching, showing the queen’s simple crown of orange blossoms placed on it. The print is a commemorative image, and the veil in its black and white albumen print looks like a strange ghost from the royal wedding.

While the Queen’s wedding dress survives in the Royal Collection, the bridal veil no longer exists and for good reason. While she had worn it several times since her marriage, Queen Victoria left among her private instructions upon her death that she should be buried with a multitude of personal trinkets, known only to her trusted physician, Sir James Reid. and those selected trainers who prepared the queen’s body for burial because there were items she wanted to put in her coffin, ‘some that no family member should see ”. These were contained in the strictly private envelope on which the queen had written “Instructions so that my dressers are opened immediately after my death and that they are always taken and kept by the one who travels with me” (cit., Kate Hubbard, Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household, 359).

Susan Reid saw the Queen’s body the next day and wrote that her face looked like a ‘marble statue ‘ – recalling the effigy that should be found for the burial of the queen, finally located at Windsor Castle by the Office of Works (Longford, 616) – and that ‘she still looked “the queen”, her wedding veil on her face…‘(cit., Ibid., 357).

The Queen wished a military funeral, as befitted the soldier’s daughter she was proud to have been, her casket to be carried on a gun carriage to Frogmore, as one would expect for the only daughter of the Duke of Kent. Importantly, however, she wanted his funeral to be white, like Tennyson’s had been and as he had confided to the Queen in a conversation, they had done so in 1873 when Tennyson had told how he ‘I wished the funeral cd was blank ‘ (cit., Longford, 614).

Significantly, I think the Queen wanted a white funeral, aside from the fact that she was not very fond of black funerals, having been horrified by the sight of the hearse at Balmoral, with its horses and their black plumes (Ibid , 614). I believe that for the Queen her death probably also meant in her mind the end of her period of widowhood. Death would mean a reunion with the Prince Consort, so being buried in white meant she would become a bride again.

This could be underlined by the fact that she certainly wished that the marble effigy sculpted of her at the same time as that of Prince Albert – by Baron Carlo Marochetti – represented her in the image of a young woman and spouse. The effigy, which was locked up in Windsor and found after inquiries were made for her burial, showed a young Queen Victoria with her head half turned towards her beloved husband, who looks straight up in the neo -Renaissance. dome of the royal mausoleum of Frogmore, as in eternity, perhaps as if to indicate that it preceded it. The impression is that of a royal sleep, of a young couple in love again, resting on a bed, symbol of the passionate marriage they had lived. It is important to note that the queen is depicted wearing a cloak similar to a veil.

When the Queen died in Osborne in 1901, her body was prepared for burial. The Queen and Empress were dressed in a white dress on which flowers had been sown. It was almost as if the queen was somehow ‘dressed‘again – for her wedding. To add to this, her wedding veil has been neatly draped over her face. The queen would wear it for eternity, and it would cover her head forever, like the bride she was. In death, among other things, she wore rings to place on her fingers (which had been heavily ringed in life), her wedding ring.

Interestingly, however, the Queen’s immense mourning identity stuck with her even after her death. This is symbolized by the fact that one of her legendary widow’s hats, was placed on her hair, even with the wedding veil. As such, she was painted on her deathbed in a portrait by artist Hubert von Herkomer dated January 24, 1901, the Queen is depicted as she had been disposed after her death two days earlier. The portrait is a moment of permanent serenity, capturing the queen’s face, appearing almost young again, covered in the wedding veil she had loved and clutching in her hands the silver crucifix that previously hung above her bed (Longford, 614). This is what she looked like, strewn with flowers when a service was rendered in the Queen’s bedroom the night she died, lying on her bed, as opposed to the small sofa bed she had died on.

The white imagery continued, almost as if ordered by the late queen. When she was buried in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, snowdrops were growing all around and snow or “sleet” fell on that February morning.

Her wedding veil will forever cover Queen Victoria’s face.

© Elizabeth Jane Timms, 2019

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