The Last Marriage of a Prince of Wales, 1863

Richard Mullen looks back on the wedding of Prince Albert Edward to Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

Marriages of the Prince of Wales have been fairly rare events in English history: that of Prince Charles is only the sixth since the creation of the title. The last one was that of his great-great-grandfather, later King Edward VII, in 1863. The public saw the marriage as nothing less than 'a love match', free from the diplomatic entanglements of the past; in fact it was the product of five years' hard work behind the scenes.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had begun the search for a bride in 1858: an early marriage would 'settle' a 'difficult' son. Under the Act of Succession the bride could not be a Roman Catholic. The Queen and the Prince were anxious to continue the tradition of a German match, a tradition upheld in 1858 when the Princess Royal, the first of their children to marry, became the wife of Prince Frederick of Prussia. The Times fuelled public speculation when, in the summer of 1858, it drew up its own short list of seven princesses. Alexandra of Denmark, then a girl of thirteen, was fifth on the list.

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