Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

The marriage of Prince Albert, Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - April 26, 1923

royal_couplePrince Albert, Duke of York, known as "Bertie" to his family, was the second son of King George V. In 1936, the Duke of York unexpectedly became King when his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry an American divorcée, Wallis Simpson.

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, the youngest daughter of the 14th Duke of Strathmore, was the Queen consort of King George VI of the United Kingdom from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952. Initially granted the title Duchess of York upon her marriage, upon her husband’s coronation she became known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. She was born on August 4, 1900 and died on March 30, 2002.

Family life

The couple had two daughters, both born before Prince Albert became King:

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born April 21, 1926, who was to become Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Margaret, who was born on August 21, 1930 and died in 2002 seven weeks before her mother.


The engagement

It took several proposals before Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon agreed to marry the Duke of York. After her first refusal, he declared he would marry no other, so his mother, Queen Mary, visited Elizabeth. She was convinced that she was "the one girl who could make Bertie happy", but nevertheless did not interfere. Elizabeth finally agreed to marry Albert in January 1923, despite her misgivings about royal life.


The ceremony

The wedding ceremony was held in Westminster Abbey, London, on April 26, 1923. It was held here instead of the more usual Royal Chapel to help lift public spirits in the shadow of the Great War.

Despite the arrival of the motorcar, carriages were used for the procession, and a strict dress code was laid down in the instructions that accompanied the invitations.

It was the first royal wedding to be recorded on film. The newly formed British Broadcasting Company had wanted to record and broadcast the event on radio, but the Abbey vetoed the idea.

The rings

Following tradition at English royal weddings, the rings were made from a nugget of gold mined in the village of Bontddu, North Wales.

After the wedding

balconyThe couple started the royal tradition of appearing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in reponse to the cheers of the crowds that had gathered.

A wedding breakfast was served at the wedding reception in Buckingham Palace which included Consommé à la Windsor, Suprèmes de Saumon Reine Mary (salmon), Côtelettes d’Agneau Prince Albert (lamb), Chapons à la Strathmore (capons), and Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth (strawberries).

Several ornately decorated wedding cakes were created for the occasion. The centerpiece was a nine-foot high, 800-pound cake which was filled with gold charms at the couple’s request, supplied by McVitie and Price of Edinburgh.

They spent their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey, a manor house in Surrey, and then went to Scotland, where Elizabeth caught whooping cough.

The bride’s dress

duchess_of_yorkCreated by Madame Handley Seymour, the bride’s dress had a deep square neckline and bold embroidery. It had a drop waist which was fashionable at the time, and was made from ivory chiffon moiré which had been specially dyed to match the color of the veil. The front of the dress was appliquéd with a series of bars of silver lame which were arranged over the bodice to form the appearance of a stomacher. The dress had two trains: one at the back, fastened at the hips and extending 10 inches beyond the hem and spread 80 inches wide, over which was worn a second train made of tulle which floated from the shoulders.

The bride’s shoes

Lady Elizabeth’s shoes were made of ivory silk moiré and had silver roses embroidered on them.

The bride’s veilbride

The point de Flanders lace veil was lent to Lady Elizabeth by her mother-in-law, Queen Mary. Made of antique lace, it was secured by a simple bandeau of myrtle leaves, with a knot of white roses of York and white heather at each ear.

The bride’s bouquet

Created by Edward Goodyear, Lady Elizabeth’s bouquet included white heather and lilies-of-the-valley, with a white rose, the emblem of the county of York, on either side. The bride unexpectedly laid her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey in memory of her brother and the men killed in the First World War. Every royal bride has since done so.

The groom’s attire

Prince Albert wore RAF full dress in the rank of group captain, his senior service rank at the time of his marriage.

The bride’s attendants

bridal_partyLady Elizabeth had five bridesmaids: Lady May Cambridge, Lady Mary Thynne, Betty Cator, Lady Katherine Hamilton, and the Honorable Diamond Hardinge. The two 11 year old trainbearers were the future Queen’s nieces, the Honorable Elizabeth Elphinstone and the Honorable Cecilia Bowes Lyon.

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