Royal Wedding Wednesday Get Me to the Church on Time. Prince Harry and Miss Meghan Markle have selected St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle as the site where their wedding vows will take place.
Royal Wedding Wednesday Get Me to the Church on Time
St. George’s has a seating capacity of 800 people. It is much smaller than Westminster Abbey where there are 2,000 seats available. But since this wedding is not a state occasion (as HRH Prince Harry will then be fifth in line to the throne) heads of state do not have to be invited. So it is perhaps the perfect size for the engaged couple.
The chapel was established in 1348 by King Edward III. It is the Mother Church of the Order of the Garter (the most prestigious British order of chivalry). The member’s heraldic banners often hang above the upper stalls of the choir.
The Quire of St George’s Chapel, Charles Wild, 1818.
St George’s Chapel was a popular destination for pilgrims during the late medieval period as it was believed to contain many religious relics. During the English Civil War, the Chapel suffered a great deal of destruction. Additional pillaging occurred in 1643.
St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Lower Bailey by Joseph Nash in 1848.
After the restoration of the monarchy, a program of repair was undertaken. Further changes were made to the architecture of the chapel during the reign of Queen Victoria.
St. George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. The magnificent stone fan vaulting is particularly noteworthy.
The chapel has hosted royal weddings for centuries. Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were married there in 1863.
More recently Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth’s youngest child, married Sophie Rhys-Jones in June of 1999.
After a civil service at Windsor Guildhall Prince Charles and Camilla had a Wedding Service of Prayer and Dedication in 2005.
Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, married Autumn Kelly at the Chapel in 2008.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge selected The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, which is commonly referred to as Westminster Abbey for their nuptials.
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.
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.
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.
Royal Weddings of Westminster
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. 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.)
The church was also selected on the occasion of Prince Andrew’s marriage to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
The Duke of York (later King George VI) was married to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later The Queen Mother) on April 26, 1923.
Princess Margaret, the second daughter of King George VI, was married to Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon) on May 6, 1960. It was also the first Royal wedding to be televised.
Princess Royal, Anne, only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, was married to Captain Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973.
In a tradition started by the Queen Mother, Royal brides always leave their bouquets on the grave of the unknown soldier at the wedding days end. Here is an image of the Duchess of Cambridge’s bouquet.
St Paul’s Cathedral in London is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of London. The original church on this site was dedicated St. Paul the Apostle in 604.
The present cathedral dates from the late 17th century. It was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren as part of a major rebuilding program after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The dome is among the highest in the world. which rises 365 feet (111 m) to the cross at its summit. The interior center has the longitudinal Latin Cross plan of a medieval cathedral. It is two stories tall and has classical porticos at the west and transept ends.
The walls of the lower story have semi-circular heads and are surrounded by continuous moldings of a Roman style, rising to decorative keystones. Beneath each window is a floral swag created by Grinling Gibbons.
A Royal Wedding at St. Paul’s
The most famous royal wedding was held at St. Paul’s on July 29, 1981.
Lady Diana Spencer was married to Prince Charles of Wales.
At this time, they are the only Royal couple to be married at the modern site of the church.
Her 25-foot train drew gasps of delight on the magnificent stairs of the cathedral.
One traditional element will not occur during the upcoming Anglican church Royal wedding service. That of a kiss shared between the bride and groom. It is just not done in the church. There is also no balcony at Windsor Castle. So Prince Harry and Miss Markle will be unable to give in to the crowd’s shouts of “Kiss! Kiss!” as his parents did. Perhaps a kiss will occur as the happy couple exits the chapel.
May your fairytale come true,