Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Royal Wedding Retrospective

In Jersey, in 1863, the following events, as reported in Ragg's History of Jersey, occurred:

On March 10th, 1863, the Hospital as it at present stands was opened with much ceremony, whilst illuminations and other signs of joy were everywhere held in commemoration of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The same year saw the burning down, on July 31st, of the old Theatre Royal, then situated in the Crescent, and also the swearing in, on October 28th, of Major-General Burke Cuppage as Lieutenant-Governor.

There is actually very little noted here about what the average person got up to with the marriage celebrations, so with a Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, I thought in would be interesting to look back at a past Royal Wedding, and again delve into my archives, looking at  Whitnash Parish Magazine to see what was happening in 1863, where there are considerable details. Alongside, the celebrations, the more mundane life was also reported, with what seems to be a perpetual theme of any century, that of raising funds for Church restoration went on:

A box of useful and fancy needlework has been received, addressed to Mrs. Young, Whitnash Rectory, from some unknown friend. She begs to tender her best thanks, and she has added the articles to her collection towards the Church restoration.

The Royal marriage of 1863 took place on 10th March, and was between Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria, and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. They married at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Edward was 21; Alexandra was 18.

The Whitnash magazine gives details of a prayer that was to be used -"Almighty God, the Fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family. Imbue them with thy Holy Spirit, enrich them with thy Heavenly Grace, prosper them with all happiness, and bring them to thy everlasting kingdom : through Jesus Christ our Lord." and the writer notes that:

It is this prayer which, in countless churches throughout the land, will be offered on Tuesday morning. It is the very marked characteristic of the intended rejoicings, that in so many places-in the cathedral city, the quiet village, and the country town-the rejoicings are to be ushered in by common consent, with a service in the church.

By way of contrast, most people this Friday won't be - by common consent -  in Church services, or singing patriotic hymns, but, if they are participating at all, be gazing at their television sets! The magazine goes on to tell of details the celebrations - and this was not a statutory holiday, but a discretional one, but such was the overwhelming loyalty to the Crown that most people kept it as a holiday, and there was a number of feasts, the equivalent of today's street parties. It is interesting that the more prosperous in Whitnash society also gave funds so that those less well off and the children could participate in this enjoyable occasion. It seems clear that this was also an occasion for Royal toasts for Bride and Groom, and patriotic singing. Interestingly, the noun used in one of the hymns is "Britains" for the people of Britain, not Britons (the modern term).

It seems a much more cohesive society than ours today, with everyone taking part, and an enthusiasm for the Royal Family that has much diminished today. And we have to remember that while prayers and services may have taken place at the time given for the wedding, and papers would have printed photographs of the Royal Couple, no newspapers reporting on the actual wedding would have reached the parishioners until the following today, so the celebrations were, in part, an exercise of the imagination as well.

The Prince of Wales Wedding

The festivities on the 10th March seem to have been more universal than upon any occasion on record. Every town and village throughout the land seems to have kept this day as a holiday, and not in England only, but in other countries wherever Englishmen congregate for business, health, or pleasure, they assembled to wish God speed to the Royal Bride and Bridegroom. In our own village a large number of the cottagers dined together at their own cost in Mr. Whitehead's large barn, while the more aged parishioners and the children of the Endowed and Infant Schools were feasted in the Rectory Garden I-louse, by a subscription among
the farmers and others.

More than half the Parish thus sat down to a hearty meal of beef, plum pudding, and ale, and the quantities provided were sufficient to supply most of those who were unable to attend the social gatherings. Upwards of 240 medals and rosettes were provided. The rosettes were made by Mrs. Young, assisted by the other ladies of the Parish, of Coventry ribbon, with the Prince of Wales' feathers and an inscription printed in red referring to the occasion.

A friend in Scotland writes to us that their people joined most heartily in singing, to the tune of "Scots wha ha wi' Wallace bled," the following words written for the occasion by our correspondent:-

Loyal Britains! far and near,
Where Victoria's name is dear,
Welcome with a hearty cheer
Our Prince's Bridal-day.

Let the welkin loudly ring,
While with heart and voice we sing
Blessings on our future King,
England's Royal Son.

Blessings on the Royal Pair;
Blessings on that Maiden fair,
Coming now his home to share,
Our Prince's chosen one.

Every joy be theirs below,
Joy that can no fading know,
Based on Love that passeth show,
Heavenly Love, Divine!
May this Bridal soothe the smart
Lingering in the Widow's heart,
And to Her, bright hope impart,
Hope to last for aye.
May She feel Her children's peace
Springs from Love that ne'er can cease ;
Love, that Time shall still increase,
Till in Heaven it shine !

Our readers will, we are sure, be glad to have a copy of the following beautiful Hymn, which may be sung to the well known tune. " Jerusalem the Golden"

O Love ! divine and golden !
Mysterious depth and height l
To Thee the world beholden
Looks up for life and light;
O Love, divine and gentle I
The Blesser and the Blest!
Beneath whose care parental
The world lies down in rest.

The fields of earth adore Thee,
The forests sing Thy praise,
All living things before thee
Their holiest anthems raise ;
Thou art the joy of gladness,
The Life of life Thou art,
The dew of gentle sadness
That droppeth on the heart.

O Love ! divine and tender !
That through our homes doth move,
Veiled in the soften'd splendour
Of holy household love ;
A Crown - without Thy blessing
Were labour without rest,
But Palaces possessing
Thy blessedness are blest.

The happy hones of England
In thee, O Lord, rejoice,
Their peace is in Thy presence,
Their gladness in Thy voice;
Blest be Thy holy pleasure
That all their joys have cone
In overflowing measure

To England's Central Home.
God save the Queen! and cheer Her
With hopes reviving ray,
May heav'n's blest blessings near Her
Watch ever night and day;
God bless the Prince! and o'er him
The Holy Spirit brood,
Till he, like One before him,
Be " Albert Great and Good."