G ardens, castles and stately homes, historic towns and cities, picturesque villages and stunning countryside, working museums, heritage railways, ancient settlements and literary landmarks…england has something for everyone, and in this latest edition of
though these gestures were, all coupons were carefully returned as passing them on was prohibited.
Amid much secrecy and security, royal dressmaker Norman Hartnell designed the princess’s ivory satin dress, which was exquisitely decorated with seed pearls and crystals. After the drabness of the war years one can imagine the enchanting, almost effervescent appearance of the princess as she was first seen travelling from Buckingham Palace, with her beloved father, in the Irish State Coach. As they approached the Abbey, the BBC’S Peter Scott summed up the emotions of the crowd when he commented: “This is our princess, and this great affectionate crowd is watching her going to marry the man she loves.”
Prince Philip was waiting for the princess with his best man, the Marquess of Milford Haven. The Daily Mirror perceptively described the groom as: “Self-possessed and calm,” and noted: “This calm young man is worth your observation. This is no shadow of a consort.” How right that has proved to be.
The princess’s eight bridesmaids included her sister Princess Margaret and her cousin Princess Alexandra. She was also attended by two young page boys, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent, who carefully carried the 15-foot train of her dress. The ceremony was officiated by Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury and, following royal tradition, the wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold. Among the music were the hymns “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” and “The Lord’s My Shepherd.”
As husband and wife, the couple left the Abbey to the accompaniment of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” and were met by the tumultuous sound of the pealing bells and the cheering crowds. Those who followed the returning royal procession to Buckingham Palace gathered amid a feeling of elation and excitement, before the doors opened and the newlyweds and members of the royal family appeared on the balcony. Smiling and waving, the young couple acknowledged the exuberant crowds that lined The Mall. After the official photographs, 150 guests enjoyed a wedding breakfast created by the Palace chef which featured a starter of Filet de Sole Mountbatten, a main course of partridge (a meat which was not on ration) and a Bombe Glacée Princess Elizabeth. The official wedding cake was made by Mcvitie and Price, with ingredients supplied by the Australian Girl Guides.
Even though the official ceremony was over, the ardent wellwishers outside weren’t going to miss the opportunity to give the newlyweds a splendid send off on their new life together. They waited patiently throughout the afternoon to cheer their departure from the Palace to Waterloo Station. From there, Princess Elizabeth and the new Duke of Edinburgh travelled to Broadlands, in Hampshire, the home of the Duke’s uncle Lord Mountbatten, for the first part of their honeymoon, followed by time spent at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate.
King George wrote to his daughter on the night of her wedding: “I was so proud and thrilled at having you so close to me on our long walk in Westminster Abbey. But when I handed your hand to the Archbishop, I felt I had lost something very precious. You were so calm and composed during the service and said your words with such conviction, that I knew everything was all right.”
Echoing his words, it certainly has been “all right” and, since that magical day in 1947 the couple have, in addition to undertaking numerous royal duties, tours and engagements, become loving parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Just as they have guided their own family they have served the nation and the Commonwealth through good times and bad. We have much to thank them for.
The radiance of this remarkable royal couple, who captivated the world all those years ago, continues to shine brighter than ever and, as they celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary, we send them our warmest and most heartfelt congratulations.