A ROYAL WEDDING
Albert, Duke of York, married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey on Thursday, 26 April 1923.
A ROYAL ENGAGEMENT
The engagement between Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Albert, Duke of York, was announced in the Court Circular on 19 January 1923.
Elizabeth and Albert had first met as children but they didn’t see each other again until 1921 when Albert fell in love with her. Albert proposed but she refused his offer as she was worried being part of the royal family would be too restrictive.
A few months later, Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Albert’s sister, Mary, and Albert proposed once more but again he was gently rebuffed. However, Albert continued to court Elizabeth and when he proposed again in January 1923, she finally said yes much to his great relief.
Elizabeth and Albert were married on 26 April 1923 at Westminster Abbey where the bride was presented with a Welsh gold band crafted from Welsh gold from the Clogau St. David’s mine. It is now traditional for royal brides to be given a wedding band made from this Welsh gold which is becoming increasingly rare.
Another tradition was started when Elizabeth spontaneously laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on the way to the altar, in memory of her brother, Fergus, who was killed in the First World War. Nowadays, it has become a tradition for royal brides to have their bouquet placed on the tomb after the wedding.
Elizabeth specifically wanted something soft and flowing for her wedding gown so her couturier Elizabeth Handley-Seymour designed a simple medieval style made from ivory chiffon moiré. The dress had a square neckline and a bodice with horizontal bands embroidered with silver thread and pearls. The dress also had a dropped waist which was contemporary at that time.
The dress also featured a strip of old rose point lace from Brussels, a Strathmore family heirloom, which was worn by a female ancestor at a grand ball for Charles Edward Stuart. The antique ivory lace veil, a gift from Queen Mary, was secured with a simple wreath of myrtle leaves with a York rose on either side.
The eight bridesmaids wore cream chiffon dresses with a silver and rose thistle fastened to a girdle of silver leaves with a trail of spring green tulle. The rose symbolised the House of York while the thistle represented Elizabeth’s Scottish ancestry.
After a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace, the couple spent their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey, a manor house in Surrey, and then went to Scotland, where Elizabeth caught whooping cough.