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Royal Weddings Past and Present: From Princess Diana to Prince William

VO: Rebecca Brayton
British Royal weddings are often lavish affairs that capture the attention of the entire nation and, in some cases, the entire world. For example, Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles seemed as though it was pulled directly from a fairy tale. From her extravagant dress to the horse-drawn carriage, she looked the part of a princess before the vows were even spoken. The marriage of Charles’ and Diana’s son, Prince William, to Catherine Middleton was another elaborate event that proved the Royals have not forgotten how to plan a wedding. In this video, explores 7 things you should know about British Royal Weddings and Marriages.

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7 Things You Should Know About British Royal Weddings and Marriages

Royal weddings are often grand affairs that make all wannabe princesses jealous. Here are seven things you should know about British Royal weddings and marriages.

1. The Traditions

Like most monarchies, the British royal family does have a history of intermarriage. This was initially done for political purposes, and to ensure pure ancestry. But don’t worry: the British Royal Family has done it very few times over its history, and this practice has petered off with time anyway. Plus, the Brits have never married anyone closer than a first cousin. For example, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip are only second cousins once removed.

2. The Venues

Westminster Abbey has long been a location for important Royal occasions. It became a popular spot for Royal weddings in the twentieth century, but history shows that royal marriages did take place there as far back as the year 1100. Before she was Queen, Princess Elizabeth was married at Westminster Abbey in 1947. And, while Prince Charles and Princess Diana were actually married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, Diana’s funeral was held at Westminster in 1997.

3. The Dresses

The Royal Family can actually be credited as sparking a long-lasting fashion trend: the white wedding dress. It was actually Queen Victoria who first wore white as a bride when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Prior to this, women actually wore colorful or even black gowns for their walks down the aisle. Despite this striking change, royal brides continue to wear fairly conservative wedding dresses, and choose not to show a lot of skin on their big day. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t extravagant!

4. The Flowers

The Royal bridal bouquets usually feature a sprig of myrtle, and this plant is nicknamed “the herb of love.” However the bloom doesn’t come from just any plant: it actually comes from a bush that was planted by Queen Victoria herself following her wedding in 1840, and it grew from a piece of her bouquet. Speaking of flower trends, in recent years the Royal brides have all honored fallen soldiers with their floral bouquet. This idea was started in 1923 by the Queen Mother when she placed her flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior found in Westminster Abbey, and all Royal brides have followed suit.

5. The Rings

A newer trend for royal weddings is the Welsh gold wedding band. For the Queen Mother’s 1923 wedding, she had a wedding band made from a gold nugget that originated in a mine in Wales. This type of gold is unique because of its pinkish color. The gold was given to Queen Elizabeth II as a gift years ago, and she presented her grandson, Prince William, with a piece for his wife’s wedding band. That’s not the only royal wedding ring with a family history: Catherine Middleton’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring once belonged to William’s mother, Princess Diana.

6. The Vows

Speaking of Diana, the princess was highly scrutinized by the media and even by the Royal Family throughout her life. Maybe it’s because she refused to conform to tradition. At her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, she broke a Royal wedding custom that dated back as far as the seventeenth century. Before Lady Di came along, Royal brides had been expected to obey their husbands, or at least to say they would in their wedding vows. Diana instead chose to love, comfort, honor, and keep Prince Charles in sickness and in health. They divorced in 1996.

7. The Costs

Many British Royal weddings are huge and extravagant affairs that people remember for decades to come. And, for many years, the British taxpayers have footed the bill when members of their monarchy decided to get hitched. Fortunately for members of the British public, that changed with the April 29th, 2011 wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. In that case, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles paid a good portion of the tab for the actual wedding. And it’s a good thing, too: Not only was William and Kate’s wedding expensive for a Royal wedding, but it was also pricey even by celebrity standards. In fact, with estimated costs ranging from 12-20 million pounds or roughly 20-35 million dollars, it was one of the most expensive celebrity weddings yet.

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