Prince Arthur was Queen Victoria’s favourite son and he pursued a career in the military at a young age. While attending the marriage of his niece, Charlotte of Prussia, in February 1878, Arthur met and fell in love with Louise Margaret of Prussia. Louise Margaret’s sister, Elisabeth, was marrying Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg, in the same ceremony.
When the engagement was announced, Queen Victoria was less than pleased as she did not consider Louise Margaret a suitable bride for her son as she felt the princess was too plain and her family scandalous. Louise Margaret’s parents had an unhappy marriage and there were rumours Friedrich Carl had hit his wife hard enough to cause deafness after failing to deliver a son. The couple were living apart from each other but Queen Victoria did not wish to associate with them. However, the Queen changed her opinion when she met Louise Margaret and they would soon develop a close relationship.
Louise Margaret and Arthur married on 13 March 1879 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and the service was conducted by Archibald Campbell Tait, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was aided by the Bishops of London, Oxford and Worcester, as well as the Dean of Windsor.
The duke was accompanied down the aisle by his two older brothers, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, all resplendent in military uniforms, while the bride was accompanied by her father. The bride walked down the aisle to Handel’s Occasional Overture and left the chapel accompanied by Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.
After the ceremony, the couple signed the register in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle before attending the luncheon. Departing the castle in the late afternoon, Arthur and Louise Margaret were cheered by the crowds as they travelled down the processional route to Esher where they made their way to Claremont for the first week of their honeymoon.
Louise Margaret wore a heavy white satin dress with a band of lace encircling the waist and down the length of the skirt which was decorated with myrtle, the German emblem of matrimony.
The train was trimmed with a lace flounce made in Silesia upon which a sprig of myrtle was fixed. The bridal veil, made of point d’Alençon lace, was patterned with orange blossoms, roses, and myrtle and fastened to her hair with five diamond stars which were a gift from the bridegroom.
Louise Margaret also wore a diamond fringe necklace which had belonged to Arthur’s grandmother, the Duchess of Kent, and a diamond and pearl brooch on her bodice which had been given to her by her father. Louise Margaret was given a gold and diamond bracelet by Arthur’s siblings which she wore with another gold bracelet gifted by the people of Windsor.
The eight bridesmaids wore identical dresses of white satin embroidered with silk and trimmed with national flowers, consisting of wild roses, Prussian cornflowers, Scottish heather and Irish shamrocks. They wore wreaths of the same flowers.
- Lady Georgina Spencer Churchill, daughter of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough
- Lady Blanche Conyngham, daughter of George Conyngham, 3rd Marquess Conyngham
- Lady Louisa Bruce, daughter of James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin
- Lady Mabel Bridgeman, daughter of Orlando Bridgeman, 3rd Earl of Bradford
- Lady Ela Russell, daughter of Francis Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford
- Lady Adelaide Taylor, daughter of Thomas Taylour, 3rd Marquess of Headfort
- Lady Cecilia Hay, daughter of William Hay, 19th Earl of Erroll
- Lady Victoria Edgecumbe, daughter of William Edgcumbe, 4th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
Happily Ever After?
After her marriage, Louise Margaret was styled HRH The Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn and she would spend the next twenty years travelling with her soldier husband. The duke was said to be devoted to his wife but it didn’t stop him having a longterm liaison with Leonie, Lady Leslie.