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Detail from a portrait of the marriage of Princess Helena

The history of Royal weddings as seen through items in the Royal Collection


The Royal Collection has many examples of wedding gifts exchanged between royal couples. For example, the day before their wedding, Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a mid-eighteenth century German fan. Spectacular jewellery was also often given to royal brides, both newly made pieces and historic jewels passed down through the family. Queen Elizabeth II was lent a fringe tiara to wear on her wedding day by the Queen Mother. This piece incorporated diamonds from a necklace which had itself been a wedding present from Queen Victoria to Queen Mary, who in turn had given the tiara to Queen Elizabeth in 1936.

However, it was not only royal brides who received gifts; bridemaids were often presented with tokens by the bridegroom. Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria's bridesmaids an eagle brooch of his own design and George V gave Queen Mary's bridesmaids a brooch containing his emblems.

With increased public interest and participation in royal weddings came the growth in the custom of present-giving – not only from close family and friends, but also from national institutions, and from individuals throughout the nation and Empire who had no personal acquaintance with the bride or groom.

Charlotte Grimston (1778-1830)

The Form of morning prayer

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-73)

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory

The Flora Danica service

John Ebsworth (active 1657-97)

Table clock

Collingwood & Co

Rose of York brooch