Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert
Victoria and Albert had first met in 1836 when the former was just 17, the meeting arranged at her Kensington Palace home with the idea of testing the water as to a future marriage. Albert was her first cousin - though marriages between first cousins were far from an unusual arrangement in the royal families of Europe at that time. The Princess found Albert handsome, but she was young and knew it, and was at first determined to delay marriage for quite a few years. But when they met again three years later she changed her mind, bowled over by his good looks and intelligence. A marriage was arranged, and given Victoria was a reigning monarch it was she who proposed to Albert.
Unlike the royal weddings of modern times which have become almost theatrical events played on the great stages of Westminster Abbey and St Paul's , Victoria and Albert were married in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace, a rather private affair, albeit with stands of dignitaries outside the chapel to cheer the arrivals and the departures from the ceremony.
Albert was dressed in the uniform of a Field-Marshal of the British Army, though in place of the baton normally carried his burden was a green-leather bible. Victoria's dress was of beautiful white satin, on her head a wreath of flowers, her face part-covered with a Honiton lace veil. Though the effect aimed at had been modest, she still wore a pair of extremely large and valuable diamond earrings. The Archbishop of Canterbury of course presided, and the Duke of Sussex gave the young Queen away.
After the wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace the couple departed for Windsor Castle , their coach accompanied by the Lifeguards, greeted by the Windsor townsfolk and the Eton schoolboys, though as there was an undertone of prejudice against the German Prince the celebrations were not as exuberant as might have been expected.
As to the wedding night, we have her account to Lord Melbourne to offer some insight: "It was a gratifying and bewildering experience," she said, and in her diary she made the famous note: "We slept little." The marriage was to be a very happy one, and in terms of offspring highly (re)productive, with nine children resulting.
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