British Royal Wedding traditions
THE WEDDING RING
-- Kate’s famous engagement ring, first worn by Diana, is only part of the story. The wedding bands for the Queen Mother in 1923, Princess Margaret in 1960, Princess Royal in 1973, and Princess Diana in 1981 were all made from the same piece of Welsh gold. There was one gram of gold left for Kate’s ring.
-- The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 requires descendents of George II to receive the sovereign ruler’s consent in order for the marriage to be considered valid; therefore, Queen Elizabeth had to grant William permission to marry Kate. If the Queen had not approved of the marriage, William could still marry Kate as long as both houses of parliament did not disapprove within twelve months of the marriage decision.
-- If Kate were Catholic, William would have to give up his claim to the throne in order to marry her. Luckily, Kate is Anglican Episcopalian; the traditional site for a Royal Wedding is Westminster Abbey.
-- At 29, Kate Middleton will be the oldest spinster ever to marry a future King of England. Only 2 women were older, and both were divorcees. Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall was 57 when she married Prince Charles in 2005. In 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine was about 30 when she wedded the future King Henry II.
-- Kate Middleton has a stunning presence similar to Princess Diana. However, Kate is in a very different place in her life than the one in which Princess Diana found herself when she married Charles. Firstly, Kate is 29 and the same age as William, whereas Diana was only 19 when she married Charles who was 32 at the time.
-- William & Kate are thought to have more in common than Diana and Charles, as they both attended St. Andrews University at the same time and began their studies in the same art history program (William later changed his concentration to geography). In addition, they both love the outdoors, they are both athletic, they share the same friends and have slowly become a part of each other’s lives.
-- William and Kate have had a longer period of courtship, and their relationship is already established and strong, having recovered from a split. Many feel Kate is more grown up and better prepared for a life of royalty than Diana was. Diana was perhaps much more naïve about the kind of life she was marrying into, with the demands of public service and the pressures of her personal life playing out for all the world to see.
-- The traditional title for the bride of the Prince of Wales after her marriage is Princess of Wales. However, Camilla, wife of Prince Charles, goes by Duchess of Cornwall or Duchess of Rothesay to distinguish herself from the late Princess Diana. Like his father, Prince William is also Prince of Wales; therefore Kate may be called Princess of Wales.
-- Although her expected title is Princess of Wales, if William is granted an Earldom of a territory, her title might be Catherine, Countess of "____". If the Queen confers a Dukedom, Kate’s title could be Catherine, Duchess of "____". Dukes are of higher rank than Earls, so if additional titles are conferred, it is more likely that William would receive a Dukedom because he is in direct line to the throne.
-- The only absolute about Kate’s title at this point is that she will NOT be keeping her maiden name or hyphenating her name.
THE BRIDAL BOUQUET
-- The sprig of myrtle that will be in Kate’s bouquet comes from a tree still growing in Queen Victoria’s garden at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The tree was planted there following her wedding in 1840. Myrtle is symbolic of love and immortality, closely associated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and a fitting addition to the royal bouquet.
-- Kate will leave her bouquet at the grave of the Unknown Warrior, a soldier representing many thousands who have lost their lives in battle. Placing the bouquet on this tomb at Westminster Abbey is a tradition begun by the Queen Mother in 1923. This is a meaningful gesture for the entire Royal family, as both William and Harry are serving officers who have lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-- Some speculate that the royal bouquet will also contain white lilies, Kate’s favorite flower that represents purity, modesty, virginity, and majesty. White daffodils are also at the top of the list because daffodils represent William’s status as heir to the British throne.
-- The daffodil is a Welsh symbol, as the flowers can be seen lining the banks of canals, rivers and hedgerows in the springtime in Wales. The best season to spot them is in March and April, coinciding nicely with the timing of the royal wedding.
-- In England, the bachelorette party is more commonly known as the ‘hen’ or ‘hen party’. For the hen, Kate’s younger sister Pippa has planned a Dirty Dancing themed party at the girls’ home in Berkshire and has booked four undisclosed venues in London to continue the celebration afterwards.
-- A lavish cake is a must at a royal wedding, and Kate and William had initially chosen chefs from the Welsh National Culinary Team to bake the cake.
-- Team manager Graham Tinsley had said the cake would be inspired by Welsh culture, featuring harps, dragons, and the flag of Wales.
-- However, later plans reveal that Fiona Cairns of Leicestershire will bake a traditional brandied fruitcake consisting of several tiers and decorated with British flowers all chosen by Kate, including "Sweet William," native to the English countryside. Also featured are the English rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh daffodil and Irish shamrock, representing the four countries of the United Kingdom. A second cake specifically requested by William will be baked by McVitie’s biscuit company; a chocolate chip cookie cake from a favorite recipe of the Windors.
-- The traditional white wedding dress began with Queen Victoria in 1840 when she married Prince Albert. Before that, wedding dresses were worn in various colors and prints.
-- Queen Victoria’s dress choice was considered very ostentatious, as women of the day saw white as an impractical dress color. There was little occasion to wear it, and white dirtied easily, especially with long dresses that draped across the ground with every step. In the case of Victoria’s elaborate gown, it meant this was a dress that could only be worn once. Today a bride would never think of wearing her wedding dress again, but in Queen Victoria’s day, wedding dresses of every color were repurposed as part of the bride’s wardrobe. Women who could afford to buy into Queen Victoria’s trend did so, and with time, the embellished white wedding gown became a popular mainstream trend.
-- Later, when department stores emerged in the 1890s, a new and unique wedding gown – worn only once on that very special day – became a more affordable option for the masses.
-- Kate’s dress will be kept a secret until her wedding day on April 29th; however it is likely that her gown will be made of silk. If the fabric is silk, it will be from a new supplier because Lullington Silk Farm, the royal family’s go-to supplier since the 1930s – and the one used for Diana’s dress – has gone out of business.
-- Although no one knows what Kate’s dress looks like, we do know it is fashioned by a single designer with two assistants under the label of Alexander McQueen, the late British designer who committed suicide last year. Rumor has it that the wedding dress is currently being assembled in Paris, and two days before the wedding it will travel to England through the Channel Tunnel (the 31-mile undersea tunnel linking France and the UK) in order to preserve its secrecy. When the dress is not being tailored, it remains locked in a safe.
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