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, Friedrich Carl of Prussia and Marianne of Anhalt, 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, Queen Victoria 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. 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.
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.
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. The bridesmaids were: Lady Georgina Spencer Churchill; Lady Blanche Conyngham; Lady Louisa Bruce; Lady Mabel Bridgeman; Lady Ela Russell; Lady Adelaide Taylor; Lady Cecilia Hay; and, Lady Victoria Edgecumbe.
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.
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 and duchess acquired Bagshot Park in Surrey as their country home and used Clarence House as their London residence.