Queen Victoria’s Bridesmaids & Thoughts of her Wedding

So far on this blog, we’ve talked about Queen Victoria’s Wedding Jewelry and her wedding dress. Today, we’re going to talk about her bridesmaids. Turns out Queen Victoria was something of a designer. For her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, she panted a watercolour painting of the gown she envisioned for her twelve bridesmaids.  This sketch is now kept in the Royal Collection and shows a bridesmaid decked out in a white off the shoulder gown with sprays of roses in the hair, on the bodice, and on the skirt.

When the Queen completed the sketch, it was given to the Mistress of the Robes, the Duchess of Sutherland, who ensured that it was faithfully copied by the dressmakers.

We’re curious to know more about who these bridesmaids were. They were all the eldest daughters of peers and nine of the Queen’s bridesmaids are shown in this rendering, which we found here.

The nine bridesmaids shown here are: Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope, mother of Lord Rosebery; Lady Caroline Lennox (died 1849); Lady Elizabeth Howard (died 1891); Lady Mary Fitzalan Howard (died 1897); Lady Sarah Villiers (died 1853); Lady Jane Bouverie; Lady Mary Grimston (died 1879); Lady Frances Cowper (died 1880); Lady Elizabeth Sackville West (died 1897).

Queen Victoria also drew a small picture of herself on her wedding day in her diary. The diary below is held in the archives at Windsor. After Queen Victoria’s death, her daughter Princess beatrice went through the late Queen’s diaries and destroyed them after editing and copying them. The handwriting below is consequently that of Princess Beatrice. The small sketch looks like it was cut out and pasted so would be the original drawing.

This excerpt reads as follows:

“February 10, Windsor Castle

Slept well & breakfasted at 1⁄2p. 9, before which Mama came, bringing me a nosegay of orange flowers, & good Lehzen gave me a dear little ring. Wrote my Journal & saw Lord Melbourne. Had my hair dressed & the wreath of orange flowers put on my head. My wreath & veil were worn, according to the rough sketch. Saw my precious Albert alone, for the last time as my Bridegroom, & he fetched in Uncle & Ernest for a moment. At 1⁄2p. 12 I set off, dearest Albert having gone before, & Mama & the Duchess of Sutherland went with me in the carriage. I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch. I never saw such crowds as there were in the Park, & they cheered most enthusiastically.”

Wish we could take a look at Kate’s diary entry from her April 29, 2011 wedding!

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Categories: British Royal Family, Royal Weddings

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