Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Wedding of Elizabeth and Philip

Britain on this day in 1947 was a nation sorely in need of a spectacle... With rationing still tight and evidence of bomb damage liberally scattered around the capital - and in plenty of other British cities and towns as well - the Royal Family did what it seems to do by instinct and found itself with a beautiful, confident princess ready to marry a dashing naval officer who was himself a prince...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo while the prospect had been the cause of some 'trouble and strife' within the family itself*, the people of Britain, the Commonwealth, and indeed the world reacted to the impending nuptials with their usual lack of reason, bless 'em. More than 2500 gifts arrived, which were then put on display in Buckingham Palace; among them were some of the most priceless of all in those lean times - rationing coupons, which enabled the bride to have her dress.

In the bridal party were Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret Rose, their cousin Princess Alexandra of Kent; Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester; the bride's second cousin, Lady Mary Cambridge; Lady Elizabeth Mary Lambart (now Longman); The Honourable Pamela Mountbatten (now Hicks); and two maternal cousins, The Honourable Margaret Elphinstone (now Rhodes) and The Honourable Diana Bowes-Lyon (now Somervell). Serving as pages were Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent.

Still, for all the closed-door machinations involved, the lavish affair at Westminster Abbey went off without a hitch, as these royal events so often do; the morning of the wedding Prince Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh - the third such creation in history**. Britain not only got its spectacle that day, but over the next 60 years the marriage of Elizabeth and Philip would provide, pound for pound, some of the best entertainment value of the 2oth Century, an investment that keeps on giving into the third millennium...

*Philip was Greek Orthodox; the Queen (later the Queen Mother) referred to Philip as 'The Hun'; Philip's sisters weren't invited because they'd all married German princes; the King's sister Princess Mary, Princess Royal refused to attend because the Duke of Windsor (or more specifically the Duchess of Windsor) wasn't invited...
**The first Duke of Edinburgh was Prince William Henry, the younger brother of George III, who passed the title to his son, Prince William Frederick before it went extinct; the second was Queen Victoria's son Prince Alfred, whose contribution to history was surviving an assassination attempt in Australia at the hands of Henry James O'Farrell in March 1868 and whose daughter became the redoubtable Marie of Romania.

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