Royal Wedding History


Do you know where the tradition of white wedding dresses comes from? Queen Victoria, opens a new window. She married Albert of Saxe-Corburg in 1840, and she proposed to him according to protocol as Queen, and in German, because his English hadn't improved enough. Queen Victoria wore a white gown and carried orange blossoms and a sprig of myrtle; all royal brides since then have included a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets. Prince Albert wore his military dress, thus beginning that tradition. Listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class's podcast all about the history of white weddings, opens a new window. Check out the BBC's guide to past royal weddings, opens a new window with video clips, photos and more or listen to Music for A Royal Wedding to hear songs that were played at the weddings of the British royals.

The Queen: Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947. She paid for her dress using ration coupons. Elizabeth and Philip have the longest marriage of any royal couple. Prince Philip has since retired from public life. 

Diana married Prince Charles in 1981 in a lavish affair with a sprawling dress that has the longest train in royal wedding history (25 feet). Prince Charles and Diana began the tradition of kissing on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

William & Catherine: Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011 at Westminster Abbey (listen, opens a new window to a history of the abbey or watch highlights, opens a new window from the BBC's coverage). In Kate's bouquet, she tucked in sweet William flowers, a nod to her husband. Kate also did her makeup herself and cemented herself as a style icon, opens a new window.

Prince Harry married Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel on May 19, 2019. The chapel is located on the grounds of Windsor Castle. St. George's Chapel dates back to the fourteenth century when King Edward III established it. 

Princess Eugenie, youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and cousin to Prince William and Harry, married Jack Brooksbank on October 12, 2018 at St. George's Chapel.


Queen Victoria had over thirty grandchildren to marry off in Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages That Shaped Europe. If you were fascinated by the wedding and life of Princess Diana, read about Lady Georgiana Spencer (related to Diana) whose life as The Duchess of Devonshire catapulted her into instant celebrity, an unhappy marriage and numerous love affairs. If you can't get enough of The Crown, read the companion book which covers Queen Elizabeth II's life from 1947-1955 (place a hold on the first season, opens a new window!). And if you aren't in the mood for a fairy tale ending, read Princesses Behaving Badly.

Planning your own wedding? Check out a book today, opens a new window!


Curious if you're related to royalty? Dig into your past using genealogy resources, opens a new windowNot sure where to begin? Ask a Librarian, opens a new window for a 30-minute appointment.