The Wedding of Princess Louise and John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll

The Wedding of Princess Louise. Royal Collection Trust.


An accomplished artist, Princess Louise was said to have been the most beautiful of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s daughters but she was also the most rebellious and was often at loggerheads with her mother. Louise soon grew tired of the extended period of mourning at the court and her apparent boredom irritated her mother who felt her daughter was becoming too argumentative. When her older sisters married, Louise became her mother’s secretary and Queen Victoria was surprised by her daughter’s efficiency.

However, Louise had a Bohemian spirit who fell easily in love and Victoria was appalled when her daughter fell in love with the Reverend Robinson Duckworth, her brother Leopold’s tutor, and Duckworth was immediately dismissed. Louise was also reputed to have had an affair with the sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm and rumours abounded the princess had been present when Boehm died in his studio. Aware of the rumours, Queen Victoria began to search for a suitable husband for her daughter but she dismissed any suggestions of a foreign prince as she wanted Louise to settle in England like her sister, Helena. As usual, Louise had ideas of her own and announced she wished to marry John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, heir to the dukedom of Argyll.

The choice was controversial since no daughter of a monarch had married a British subject since Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII had married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in 1515. The Prince of Wales was not keen on the match at all, however Queen Victoria supported her daughter’s decision and hinted it was time for some new blood in the family. John was invited to Balmoral Castle and he proposed to Louise on 3 October 1870 with the Queen’s blessing.

The Ceremony

Louise and John were married at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 21 March 1871 where the bride was escorted down the aisle by her mother and her eldest brother, The Prince of Wales, as well as her paternal uncle, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The groom was supported by his brother-in-law, Henry Percy, Earl Percy, and his maternal uncle, Ronald Sutherland-Leveson-Gower.

The service was conducted by John Jackson, Bishop of London, in the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. After the ring was placed on Louise’s finger, the bells of the chapel pealed in celebration and the gun salute began. At the end of the ceremony, the Queen kissed her daughter and in return her hand was kissed by her new son-in-law who bowed before her.

The wedding breakfast was held in the Oak Room for the royal family which was beautifully decked with floral bouquets, and had the guests were entertained by the pipers of the 91st Highland Regiment and the band of the Grenadier Guards. The rest of the guests, numbering more than 300, attended a buffet in the Waterloo Gallery. Later in the afternoon, Louise and John left for their four-day honeymoon at Claremont, Surrey, before heading to Scotland.

Wedding Dress

Louise wore a white silk wedding gown, with deep flounces of Honiton lace trimmed with orange blossom, white heather and myrtle. The lace was the work of Mr. Tucker of Branscombe, Devon, who had already made the lace for Louise’s sisters. The lace, which also featured floral bouquets from a sketch done by the princess herself, was heavily embroidered with shamrocks, thistles and roses. The lace flounce on the train matched the pattern of the veil with floral bouquets tied with a delicate lovers’ knot.

Royal Collection Trust

The lace veil was held in place by two of the three diamond daisy hair pins presented by her younger siblings, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice.

Louise was given a bracelet as a wedding gift from her husband which had a detachable sapphire pendant mounted with diamonds and pearls. Louise chose to wear the pendant on a diamond necklace for her wedding day. She also wore an emerald bracelet gifted by the Prince and Princess of Wales, and a diamond bracelet that had belonged to her maternal grandmother, the Duchess of Kent.

The Bridesmaids

The bridesmaids wore white glacé silk dresses trimmed with satin with a gossamer tunic decorated with sand ivy, white heather and crimson roses. The wreaths were made of the same flowers. Each bridesmaid also wore a blue and white enamel locket with a purple scroll at the centre with the words Louise 1871 inscribed and surrounded with a wreath of roses and forget-me-nots. The loop was a princess coronet studded with emeralds and rubies.

  1. Lady Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll
  2. Lady Mary Cecil, daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury
  3. Lady Mary Butler, daughter of John Butler, 2nd Marquess of Ormonde
  4. Lady Florence Montagu, daughter of John Montagu, 7th Earl of Sandwich
  5. Lady Florence Gordon Lennox, daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 6th Duke of Richmond
  6. Lady Grace Gordon, daughter of Charles Gordon, 10th Marquess of Huntly
  7. Lady Constance Seymour, daughter of Francis Seymour, 5th Marquess of Hertford
  8. Lady Alice Fitzgerald, daughter of Charles FitzGerald, 4th Duke of Leinster

Happily Ever After?

Louise and John had no children and their marriage became one of companionship rather than love as they spent a great deal of time apart. There was also speculation John may have been homosexual as he preferred establishing close friendships with men, some who were known to be homosexual or bisexual.

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