A Royal Wedding Cockade

On a trip to England in 2012, I brought home a lovely little cream silk cockade with the Prince of Wales feathers in the center. I had no idea what it had been used for, and thought it would be fun to do a little detective work when I got home to discover its past. When I dug into its past - what a fun discovery I made!

In my research I came across this picture showing cockades similar to mine labeled as "wedding favors" from the wedding of Princess Alexandra of Denmark to the Prince of Wales in 1863. As I dug deeper, I found that this wedding was a rather romantic story.

Both Edward and Alexandra were a mere 18 years old when they married in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. They had only met a few times, but the Prince's sister knew Alexandra and thought they would be perfect for each other.

A nervous Alexandra had gone to stay with Queen Victoria, Edward's mother a short time before the wedding. But she won Victoria's heart as she had already won the Prince's and the Queen pronounced her "a pearl."

When Alexandra arrived in England at the end of February, the English people threw a great celebration. After all, a Princess of Wales is pretty rare (there have only been 11 in history)! Eighty thousand people crowded into Gravesend and delightedly watched the nervous young Prince run up the gangway and kiss his beautiful bride-to-be.

Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote a poem in honor of the occasion. Here are the final lines:

Bride of the heir of the kings of the sea - 
O joy to the people and joy to the throne, 
Come to us, love us, and make us your own: 
For Saxon or Dane or Norman we, 
Teuton or Celt, or whatever we be, 
We are each all Dane in our welcome of thee, 

The music at the couple's wedding on March 10 had been composed by Prince Albert, Edward's father. Albert had died a little over a year earlier - in fact, Victoria was still in mourning and not "officially" present for the ceremony (though she watched from above the altar). Nearly everyone there became choked up and the groom was unable to do more than nod when asked if he "would have this woman to be his wife."

The bride's dress was designed by the famous Charles Frederick Worth and was covered with British-made Honiton lace. The lace had emblems of England, Ireland and Scotland in the form of roses, shamrock and thistles. The gown was the first royal wedding dress to be photographed.

In celebration of this joyous national event, ribbons and cockades were worn by everyone. Some were more elaborate than others, but all had the distinguishing mark of the Prince of Wales feathers.

These three cockades were worn in celebration of the event. Note the cockade on the far right. Does it look familiar? In fact, look at it side-by-side with my cockade.

Looks like I've found the story behind my lovely cockade! What do you think?

If you want to read more about the courtship and wedding of Edward and Alexandra, you can see articles here and here.

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