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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Royal Wedding Wednesday~ Get Me to the Church on Time

Welcome to the third installment of the Royal Wedding Wednesdays mini series.


Shortly after H.R.H. Prince William announced his engagement to the lovely Catherine Middleton rumors swirled as to where the traditional Anglican ceremony would take place. A general rule of the church is that couples may marry in a church where the bride or grooms parents or grandparents were married. Many wondered if Prince William and Kate would select St. Paul’s cathedral where of course his parents were spectacularly married in 1981.

The couple ended up selecting The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, which is commonly referred to as Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey has been a standing tradition as the selected venue for 38 coronations of English and British monarchs. The first coronation to be held in the Abbey was of William the Conqueror in 1066. This lovely painting of Westminster was done by Giovanni Antonio Canale, known as Canaletto, a proficient Italian painter, during the Rococo era.

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation at Westminster Abbey took place  on June 2, 1953.

On June 2, 2012 Her Majesty will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.

The Abbey was founded in the 5th century. Its location was selected based on a late tradition that a fisherman called Aldrich saw a vision of Saint Peter near the site. In 1540 the Abbey was granted cathedral status until 1550 by Henry VIII thus ensuring it would be spared from destruction or dissolution. It is possible that the expression "robbing Peter to pay Paul" may have arisen during this period when money meant for the Abbey, which is dedicated to Saint Peter, was diverted to the treasury of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

File:Westminster Abbey Choir ILN 1848.jpg

A portion of the abbey was built between  1245 ~ 1517 in the Anglo~ French Gothic Style.  For a time the church was restored to the Benedictines under Mary I of England, who was a Roman Catholic. In 1571 Elizabeth I re~established Westminster Abbey as a "Royal Peculiar", meaning that the church was directly responsible to the Monarch, rather than to a diocesan bishop.

The church has also been the final resting place for many of Britain’s Royals for over 500 years. This is the tomb of Elizabeth I.

There are also celebrated statesmen, scientists, writers and composers buried here such as George Handel, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, and Robert Browning. A few, such as Churchill and Shakespeare, have a memorial in the Abbey, even though they are buried elsewhere.

Having had the pleasure of visiting Westminster Abbey I could go on and on about the glorious architecture, stained glass windows and beautiful carvings. Alas, most of you are here visiting in anticipation of details for the wedding. I do believe in giving the reader what they want, so will move on with just one last visual image that makes me sigh. That of the Virgin with Christ child~ an truly exquisite carving to view in person.


Over the years the church has been the venue selected for many Royal Weddings. The first occurred on November 11, 1100 between King Henry I and Matilda of Scotland. The last was held on the occasion of Prince Andrew’s marriage to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.  Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, selected Westminster when she married Prince Philip in 1947. (I adore her wee page boys, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent in their tartan kilts.)

Catherine will enter the Abbey through the Great West Door.

A close up of the Great West Door features ten 20th Century Christian martyrs including, left to right,  St Maximilian Kolbe, Manche Masemola, Janani Luwum, Grand Duchess St Elizabeth of Russia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,  Óscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Esther John, Lucian Tapiedi, and Wang Zhiming.

Catherine will then pass by the grave of the unknown warrior. It has been a tradition that all Royal brides leave their bouquets on the grave at the wedding days end. Here is an image of Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth, and Prince Philip on their wedding day, passing by the grave.


From there Catherine will continue on, passing by over 2000 guests who will be seated in chairs facing inward so that they may view her walking by. It is a rather long walk to be sure.

After she passes by, the guests will then have to view the ceremony on screens as they are separated from the High Altar. However, the Royal Family, will be seated within to view the service.

Here is a closer look of the high altar where the Royal family will be seated and Prince William and Catherine will exchange their vows. In many ways it makes the ceremony a bit more intimate for the bride and groom. 

This may be why Prince William and Catherine selected Westminster Abbey, rather than St. Paul’s, for their marriage ceremony. It should also be mentioned that the Abbey was also where Diana’s memorial service was held.

Prince William and Catherine will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. The Archbishop is the spiritual head of the Anglican Church and is quite close to Prince Charles.

Of course one traditional element will not occur during the Anglican church service~ that of a kiss shared between the bride and groom. It is just not done in the church and one can only hope that Prince William and Catherine will follow suit when making their appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and give in to the crowds shouts of “Kiss! Kiss!” much as his parents did.


I have heard your pleas for posts on such topics as “The Dress” “the cake” and “the flowers”. All will be forthcoming, I promise. I would love to hear what else you would like to see on future Wedding Wednesday posts. 

May you have a happily ever after day,



ImagiMeri said...

Hi Laura,

I've been to GB five times, it's the only place I consider my other home. Scotland, especially, is my most favorite place in the world. I, too, was carried away by Princess Diana's wedding as I had gotten married for the first time in Germany around the same time. I was truly devastated when she died....a lovely spark had definitely gone out. I find it so interesting that my oldest daughter, who was married last May, is captivated by the new royal couple. Just as I was those many years ago, my daughter will be staying up to watch the wedding when it happens. I am a huge fan of anything British/Scottish/Welsh & Irish, but not French. I had a very, very poor time in France, and to this day you couldn't pay me to go back there. We definitely need to spend some quality time together and share our experiences. Have a great day!


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

*sigh* love this!!!!! I would so love to visit there!! GORGEOUS!! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

Mom in High Heels said...

Fantastic! I love Westminster Abbey and was completely awed by it when we visited. I do think it's nice that the actual ceremony will be slightly more intimate for the bride and groom.
I don't know what else I'd like to read about. Do we know any of the bridesmaids? Their dresses? I've heard there's some brouhaha about the reception. Can you dig anything up on that? Oh, and will RWW continue AFTER the wedding so we can obsessively break down every bit of what actually happened? Cause that would be fun!

Mom in High Heels said...

BTW, I gave you a plug on my blog today. AND I thought of something else. Will you be covering any of the prep for Prince Albert's wedding? I know it's not until summer, but I'd love to see more about it. I love Monaco. It's so beautiful.

Karen said...

What a fun posting you have made.
Hope you get a chance to see "The King's Speech". Wonderful!
Ladybug Creek

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Fun fun. I do love all the architecture talk. Reminded me of one of my fav' books, Pillars of the Earth. Liked the old photos too :)

cityfarmer said...

I've got my alarm all set on the iphone ...

who is making the dress?

I heard it was emmanuels ...

loving these posts!!!!!

Vicki said...

While I checked in expecting some wedding details, I was pleasantly surprised by all the information on the building. I love old buildings! Thanks for taking the time to share so many architectural details with us. I'm so enjoying RWW. Thank you for hosting it!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Your pictures and the history are so interesting. I love this series. Can't wait to see more. I look forward to seeing you Sat. Hugs, Marty

Deanna said...

Enchanting post!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I would love to hear anything! Perhaps a bit about the attendants?
I thoroughly enjoyed this post--I think Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week now!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, what a beautiful post, Laura! I loved every word and every photograph. Thank you so much for doing this for all of us. You are the best, my friend. I look forward eagerly to each Wednesday with you!

I think that Westminster Abbey is the perfect choice for two reasons. I cannot imagine that they would want the comparison of Prince Wm's parents' marriage at St. Paul's, so I think it is wise from that perspective. I also think it is a good choice because they are trying to keep Princess Diana as a part of things, and that was where her physical body last appeared before burial.

I enjoyed hearing all of the details of the Abbey. You have really done your homework, Laura, which makes these posts so enjoyable for all of us. As a sidenote, it was very interesting to me that Henry I and Matilda were married here. I didn't know that. Something I haven't shared on the blog is that I descend from their great grandson, William Longespée,(third Earl of Salisbury) who was the illegitimate son of Henry II and one of his mistresses, Countess Ida. Do you remember the movie, "Lion in Winter"? Well, it's not the mistress in that movie, but another. For many years, people thought he was that mistress' (Rosamond's) son, but according to all of my research, they found papers where William actually identified his mother as this other woman.

My line twists and turns from there and ends up coming down through someone who sppears to be a rather obscure woman who immigrated to the colonies. But that one obscure person has opened up some interesting portals for me.

There's nothing like boring someone with your genealogy, so I'll stop. LOL! But I did want to thank you for all of the extra effort you undergo to make this so interesting for us.


Sheila :-)

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

I just love these posts....

Bonnie@Creative Decorating said...

I am so enjoying this every Wednesday. You have taught me many things that I didn't know for sure. Since it is doubtful that I will ever get to travel there, I am seeing through your eyes!!

Teresa said...

WOW, this is - hands down - one of the most accurate, extensive and tasteful post I've read, so far, about the upcoming Royal Wedding Venue.
After going through your connaiseur details and wonderful pictures, one almost feels sorry for Kate as she will not be able (the nerves, the pressure os doing everything Princely) to enjoy all those details and beauty. She must return there with William and demand a personalised tour. Hey, they should take you along ;).

I'm romantic so I want to see them enjoying and smilling widely and mad in love in their day. The way they did at their engagement interview and photoshooting.

You're a (very) generous soul,Laura. After reading your Wedding Wednesdays one is wishing them even better.



E. Charlotte said...

Oh I loved reading this! You have so much great information. That abbey is just gorgeous. What an amazing piece of architecture. Thanks for sharing all the details! I can't wait to see what you post next! :)

Nezzy said...

Funny, that's the song I sang the day before I married and the title of my last post!

The architecture just blows me away. They sure don't build churches like that in today's world.

I've so enjoyed your weddin' series girl.

God bless and have a wonderful day sweetie!!!

Lorrie said...

Another wonderful wedding post, Laura. I'm curiously fascinated by the royals and enjoy all these tidbits. And of course, as history is an even greater interest of mine - I love that portion of your post, too.

I'm hoping your week is going well.

Terri said...

I don't want to request anything except what you are already doing! I too have been to Westminster Abbey and I loved it! I wish I could be there at the wedding.

Miss Sandy said...

Big sigh! Can you even imagine getting married in such grand style? What a grand entrance she will make. I am afraid I would trip on my train while gawking at all the architecture were I to have the privilege of such nuptials. I am such a commoner! ;c)

Mary Ellen said...

Laura I am so enjoying all the post you are doing on the Royal Family and soon to be Royal Wedding! I remember when Diana and Charles were making everyone excited with their wedding plans and I kept a close ear for all the details!

You have learned so much history of the coaches, church, etc. Thank you for sharing it with us!!

And i AM SO EXCITED TO THINK I WILL BE GETTING TO MEET YOU SATURDAY!!! Marty is such a sweetie to get this together and those of you coming are just dolls to take time out of your busy Saturday! I know you all just got together a week or so ago - I so wish I had been coming that week!

See you Saturday!

bee blessed

Tamara Jansen said...

OK, I am a serious royal buff and I just loved your post. We just had our oldest son's wedding at our greenhouses here and we tried our best to really get that "royal" feel for him and his bride. We made everything ourselves, from the organza tent to the 5 foot chandeliers. It turned out like a fairy tale. I'm so glad I work in the floral industry where I have access to all sorts of super cool stuff to make a wedding really "wow"!

Here's a link to how we got it all done:

French said...

Another well-researched RWW post! I love the Abbey; well, I love most old churches...

The Boston Lady said...

Laura, this is very fun for us Royal Watchers! I was at St. Paul's, I believe, when I was about 9 and fascinated with Florence Nightingale. Correct me if I am wrong and she is entombed elsewhere, but it was one of the highlights of my childhood to see her stone. I felt as if I was on revered ground. Alas I never became an nurse officially, but she is still one of my heroes. I may have been at another grand cathedral, but I am going on childhood impressions. Nevertheless, wherever Wills and Catherine get married the important thing is what happens afterwards and may they have lifelong happiness together. ann

Susan said...

Wow! Aren't those churches something else? woo hoo. Majestic!
Great post! Susan

Karen said...

Love the details on where she will enter and why the bouquet is left etc. Do tell us where you find the details? Is there an etiquette book for royal weddings and the pomp and circumstance of it tell!
Looking forward to next Wednesday.

nannykim said...

Thanks for sharing--interesting stuff!

Shirley said...

Long Ago or Today it does not matter..A Royal Wedding is a grand event. I love reading all you have to offer..

Liz said...

Awesome! I loved seeing the Abby when we were there. But I think you really need to see it at least a couple of times to see all the history that is there. It is a true wonder! :)


Mimi said...

I am happy they chose Westminster Abbey, I just like saying Abbey!!!!I hope one day to tour it!!!
Lucky you!!!
I would like to know why all the bridesmaids or helpers are young children???And not the bride's friends????
got my dress today for the wedding!!!

The Zhush said...

What a fun and fascinating series!

TRay said...

Hey!! Another great post!! I had no idea that 20th century people were featured above that door. Very, very cool. And, I love the phrase, "Royal Peculiar." I think I'm a royal peculiar...


Sherry said...

Oh, wonderful Laura! I can't wait. What a beautiful place to have a wedding. It is so sweet the "kiss", oh how I wish Diana could be there. How beautiful it will be.

Karena said...


The fisrt thing I thought of in reading your post was Pillars of the Earth. Even so, I cannot even begin to imagine the kind of craftsmans, artisans and artists it took to bring these glorious buildings to fruition.

Art by Karena

Dumbwit Tellher said...

You did your research Laura and it shows. I loved this piece and it just gives me goose bumps thinking what it would be like to be present sitting in the Abby or better yet, be marrying a future King. I still get teary thinking of Princess Diana. I was such an admirer.

I keep telling the husband if we get the house sold in time, we could be in London on the day of the wedding lining the streets with the masses to catch a glimpse of William & Kate! A memory for a lifetime.

Thank you Laura & have a lovely weekend xo

Bonnie said...

My husband and I attended a sung eucharist service there in September and were moved to tears. The atmosphere was incredible. I can't image a royal wedding. Just viewing your pictures was very interesting. What history and beautiful architecture!

The Tablescaper said...

Oh Laura, I loved this post. My daughters and I have already started inviting friends for a breakfast on the morning of the Roayl Wedding so we can all watch together. Can't wait to see more!

- The Tablescaper

Richella said...

I loved reading this post, Laura! What a great series!

I'm glad William and his bride chose Westminster Abbey. It's such a beautiful place. My very first trip to London was in 1982, and everyone was so excited, because the new prince was being christened! If I remember correctly, Prince William was christened on his great-grandmother's 82nd birthday. Hard to believe that was nearly 30 years ago, and that little baby is now about to be married! :)

Genie said...

Laura,,,Thanks so much for your Visit to mu Buttons for Baga and comment on the pink mosaic of my little Eloise. Your blog is so lovely, the the walk down memory lane at Westminster Abbey has made my Saturday. For years I took 8th graders to England in the summers so cannot begin to remember how many times I have been there...MANY,MANY! I got to go to church these once which was divine. Your pictures and commentary are wonderful. I wilbe back to see you again.XOXOXO Genie

taidyeoriginal said...

Beautiful pictures! I especially like the one of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation at Westminster Abbey. A large print of this picture actually hangs on the wall in my office building. The century old lighting company I work for built the lights in this image!

Charlotte said...

Thanks for all the beautiful photos of Westminster Abbey. We visited there in 1997. It was so so so interesting as was just about all of London. I fell in love with it.
All those "goodies" both edible and not in your previous posts were also enjoyable.

Genie said...

Laura...Sorry about the horrible typing and all the spelling errors. I was typing on my iPad last night and I really do need to stretch out all the type so I can catch my errors. Today while searching for my TP rollers I found all of my kings and queens of England felted Christmas ornaments. One of these days soon I am going to have to post them as they are a real treasure.

Joyce said...

Brilliant article you have written here. I really was surprised to see this and elated! HA!
My Tea Group is having an "ALL NIGHT Royal Wedding Event" (for lack of a better name yet) on April 29th so we can view the wedding in the wee hours!
I'll be checking back here to your site on Wednesdays...this is a fun ideal!

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

Laura, I'm catching up on your posts and just wanted to say that the architecture impresses me too. I love the photos you've chosen, and you've given all of us some wonderful info on where the wedding is to take place.