The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

The Prince and Princess of Wales

The Prince and Princess of Wales

A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Princess Alexandra of Denmark on their wedding day in 1863.

The wedding of the Prince of Wales to Alexandra of Denmark on 10 March 1863 was celebrated in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Before the ceremony, the Queen took them both into the Mausoleum at Frogmore where the Prince Consort was buried and joining their hands together, announced 'He gives you his blessing!'

The ceremony was to be the subject of a vast painting, commissioned by the Queen from the artist William Powell Frith. On the day, Frith merely sketched out the general positioning of those who attended, but in the finished canvas, no less than 139 of the eminent congregation may be recognized, a feat Frith accomplished by stipulating in advance that as an aide-memoire, he would require photographs of all present, wearing the same clothes that they had worn on the day. This proved to be a more arduous project than the actual painting of the scene, and for two years after the rejoicing had died down, he struggled to complete his task. Key members of the congregation left the country, grew older, became pregnant and even died. Dresses which Frith needed to record had been cut up before he could paint them, and many of his sitters were arrogant, capricious and uncooperative. In spite of all the problems, and the fact that, in the opinion of Lady Geraldine Somerset, the bridesmaids were 'eight of the ugliest girls as you could wish to see', the painting was a great success, and now hangs in the Royal Collection, but the artist was worn out by his task and his artistic aspirations subsequently waned.

Photographed by John Mayall of 224, Regent Street, London.


Code: 124017
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© Paul Frecker 2019