Search

Heritage: Royal wedding fever in Romford - for the future Edward VII

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 May 2018

Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward  VII), and his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, after their wedding. Photo: PA

Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, after their wedding. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

As Prince Harry and Meghan prepare for their nuptials today, Prof Ged Martin looks back at a Victorian royal wedding

Major royal weddings usually take place in London, but in 1863 the future King Edward VII – eldest son of Queen Victoria and her humourless husband Albert – got married at Windsor.

Two years earlier, then aged 19, the Prince of Wales – “Bertie” to his family – had been sent to Ireland (still part of the UK) for intensive military training.

Army officers took pity on his strict upbringing, and helpfully smuggled an actress into his bed. (In those days, the term “actress” had a range of meanings).

Inevitably, Bertie’s parents heard about the escapade and – equally predictably – they were shocked.

On a November day, Albert took Bertie for a long walk so they could have a Serious Talk. Father and son got soaked in a rainstorm. Albert became ill. Three weeks later, he died.

He’d probably already caught typhoid – Victorian drains could be lethal.

We’ll never know: it was said that Albert’s personal physician wasn’t fit to treat a sick cat.

Victoria, never Bertie’s biggest fan, insisted her husband had died of a broken heart.

But the heir to the throne had discovered sex, and had to be married off, fast. The bride must be a nice girl, a princess and a Protestant.

Alexandra of Denmark ticked the boxes. The youngsters met, and obediently fell in love. And so, in March 1863 as in May 2018, Windsor celebrated.

Romford also took “active and vigorous measures to celebrate the nuptials of the Prince of Wales”.

The town’s biggest employer, Ind Coope’s brewery, presented new uniforms to the local band, and allowed its employees the day off.

Each brewery worker was given two pounds of meat, two pounds of bread – and four pints of ale. Married men with families received extra – extra food, that is.

Funds collected to support the poor through the previous winter were diverted to give local schoolchildren “a good English dinner”.

One well-wisher provided rosettes for policemen. Another wealthy resident offered “two ounces of good tea” plus a pound of sugar to every poor widow in Romford.

It seems poor widows didn’t drink much tea.

In the evening of the big day, important local buildings – the town’s bank and court house – were “illuminated”. This involved placing candles and oil lamps in the windows.

Brentwood went one better, persuading its local Volunteer soldiers to fire a 21-gun salute!

Havering-atte-Bower was conscious of its history as a “royal village” (there’d once been a palace there).

Local gentry forked out to ensure “the day was celebrated in the most enthusiastic manner”.

There were flags and banners everywhere. Gifts of over 500 pounds of beef provided the poor with a decent feed. Bread and beer were included too.

Havering-atte-Bower’s schoolchildren were lavished with eggs, plum puddings, buns, oranges (a rare luxury), figs and gingerbread, “to the joy of their young hearts”. They were also each given sixpence (just over 2p).

Youngsters paraded the village singing God Save the Queen and “merry glees”. At night, there was a huge bonfire on the Green.

But there was little local interest in a later royal event, the July 1893 wedding of Victoria’s grandson, Prince George, to Princess May of Teck.

She’d been engaged to George’s elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, known as “Eddy”.

Eddy’s tutor politely described his mind as “abnormally dormant”. Had Eddy become king, Britain would probably now be a republic. In fact, he suddenly caught ‘flu and died.

Suitable royal brides were scarce, so Princess May was traded on to the next brother.

Tactfully, Romford people were reported to be “exhausted” by organising a recent agricultural show. In truth, this arranged marriage inspired little sentimentality.

The town managed “a moderate display of flags”. Some shops closed so people could watch a cricket match against a team from Hackney.

The royal couple later became King George V and Queen Mary.

Related articles

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

12:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Readers may not have heard of Sadiq Khan’s planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), but it is set to have a detrimental impact on the hundreds of thousands of people who drive inside the North and South Circulars every day.

Christmas, the time of year when we are pressured to buy things no one wants for people we don’t want to buy for at prices we’re not happy with.

Yesterday, 11:38

Police tasered a man in Collier Row after he threatened officers with a meat cleaver.

Yesterday, 10:00

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 08:00

The discovery that a man who had been jailed for using his position as a police officer to prey on vulnerable women could have been allowed to work at Queen’s hospital without a compulsory background check is worrying both for staff and patients.

Fri, 17:05

A market trader from Newbury Park has been found guilty of torching a £260,000 Ferrari during an arson attack in Emerson Park that was revenge for a business deal gone wrong.

Fri, 16:18

Two of the three teenagers accused of taking part in a fatal knife attack which killed a 15-year-old outside a party in Collier Row have claimed they played no role in the incident.

PROMOTED CONTENT

From November, The Mercury in Romford begins to celebrate Christmas. The mall has plenty of gift ideas, fun events and activities for everyone

Vauxhall has completed its sport utility vehicle range with the third, and largest, Grandland X. We put the SUV, now available at Tony LeVoi in Romford, to the test.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” so the saying goes. So if some warm weather is making your conservatory uninhabitable, think about replacing its roof with a flat one and adding a roof lantern instead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Romford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

News from your area

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now