Royal life revealed

MARK NICHOLLS They are the touching private letters, mementos and photographs of royal love matches spanning five generations. Extracts from the journals of Queen Victoria and private photographs from the collections of George VI, along with wedding memories of our current Queen, are included in exhibits that have gone on display for the first time recalling the weddings and engagements of the royal family.

MARK NICHOLLS

They are the touching private letters, mementos and photographs of royal love matches spanning five generations.

Extracts from the journals of Queen Victoria and private photographs from the collections of George VI, along with wedding memories of our current Queen, are included in exhibits that have gone on display for the first time recalling the weddings and engagements of the royal family.

They are from the exhibition Five Gold Rings: A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album, which marks the diamond wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who were married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.


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Included in the exhibits of royal marital treasures are Queen Victoria's views on the handsomeness of her husband, and cake decorations from the Queen Mother's wedding feast.

The exhibition at Windsor Castle, which opened to the public yesterday, includes extracts from Queen Victoria's journal describing her “excessively handsome” husband-to-be.

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Describing her joy when Prince Albert agrees to marry her, she writes about how happy she is to “feel I was loved and am loved by such an angel”.

She also notes that her fiancé has “such beautiful blue eyes, and exquisite nose, and such a pretty mouth with delicate moustachios and slight but very slight whiskers”.

A letter from the present Queen's father, the Duke of York, to his own parents on the occasion of his engagement reads: “I am very, very happy and I can only hope that Elizabeth feels the same.”

He adds that his bride-to-be is touched by his parents' kind letters to her congratulating the happy couple but “a little shy to know how to answer them”.

The exhibition spans five royal weddings from Queen Victoria to our own Queen, Elizabeth II, who met her future husband Prince Philip of Greece as a 13-year-old in 1939. Throughout her teens, she stayed devoted to Philip, who proposed in 1946.

Reportedly, the two were taking a walk on a sunny summer day at Balmoral when Philip popped the question.

Royal librarian Jane Roberts said the Windsor Castle-based display showed “how the Royal family really had the same sort of views about marriage and love and weddings as the rest of us”.

Over the 100-year period spanned by the exhibition, royal weddings have evolved from strictly private occasions to events of national celebration.

The private wedding photo album of King George VI, released to public view for the first time, illustrates the blurring of the lines between a private affair and a public event.

Most of the pictures in the album have been taken by press photographers which the King had copied but then added his own handwritten captions.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book, Five Gold Rings: A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album, published by Royal Collection Publications, which is on sale now in hardback at £9.99.

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