Royal Wedding Recollections – The Duke of York & Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

The Duke of York Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
(public domain)

The engagement between Prince Albert, Duke of York, second son of King George V and Queen Mary, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was announced in January 1923.

The statement read, “It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their beloved son, the Duke of York, to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, to which union the King has gladly given his consent.”1

The wedding took place on 26 April 1923 at Westminster Abbey, and crowds had gathered along the route. Elizabeth got ready at Bruton street and left from there with her father in a state landau. Around 1780 guests were seated in Westminster Abbey, which was described as “a large and brilliant congregation which included many of the leading personages of the nation and the Empire.”2

The service began with a procession into the Abbey led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. King George V was splendid in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, while Queen Mary wore a dress and turban of aquamarine blue. Also present were Queen Alexandra and her sister Empress (dowager) Marie Feodorovna, and several other members of the family. Elizabeth’s family were also present, with her mother wearing a gown of “black marocain.”3

The groom was dressed in the dress uniform of the Royal Air Force, adorned with the Garter Riband and Star, and the Star of the Order of the Thistle, in honour of his Scottish bride. His brothers, the Prince of Wales and Prince Henry, were dressed in the uniform of the 10th Hussars.

The bride was accompanied by eight bridesmaids, Lady Mary Cambridge, Lady May Cambridge, Lady Katherine Hamilton, Lady Mary Thynne, Betty Cator, Diamond Hardinge and Elizabeth Elphinstone and Cecilia Bowes-Lyon. They were all dressed in “ivory-coloured dresses of crêpe de chine with bands of Nottingham lace, covered with white chiffon.”4 They had all received a gift from the groom, a carved crystal brooch in the form of a white rose of York with a diamond centre with the letters E and A. In addition, they all carried bouquets of white roses and white heather.

Elizabeth herself wore “a dress of cream chiffon moiré with appliquéd bars of silver lamé, embroidered with gold thread and beads of paste and pearl.”5 The dress had a square neckline and short sleeves, with a straight-cut bodice. She wore a long train with lace edging and a point de Flandres lace veil, lent to her by Queen Mary. The veil was held into place by a wreath of myrtle leaves, white roses and white heather. Her shoes were ivory silk moiré embroidered with silver roses. She carried a bouquet of roses and lily of the valley.6

Elizabeth entered the Abbey with her father, but as they waited after a member of the procession fainted, she suddenly left her father’s side and placed her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. As she walked up the aisle, a guest reflected, “There was Elizabeth with her father & looking extraordinarily nice & I couldn’t help feeling most extraordinarily proud of her as if she’d been my own sister. She did it amazingly well & even appeared to be enjoying it as she smiled up at Lord S when he bent down & asked her something.”7

After the address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the family went into the chapel of Edward the Confessor to sign the registers. As Mendelssohn’s wedding march played, the new Duchess of York reappeared from the chapel with her husband. Her mother later reflected that Elizabeth looked “lovely… so dignified and restful, just her own sweet little self as usual.”8 The Duke and Duchess then bowed and curtseyed to the King and Queen before walking back out of the Abbey.

They entered a scarlet and gold coach, which took them to Buckingham Palace, where she received a curtsey from her eight bridesmaids. At the palace, a wedding breakfast took place with 60 guests. The 80o-pound wedding cake was cut in the Blue Drawing Room. Elizabeth later changed into her going-away dress, and she purposely wore a small hat so that the crowd could see her.

Elizabeth later ended her diary entry of her wedding day with the words, “Very tired & happy. Bed 12.”9

Elizabeth and Albert would eventually become King and Queen upon her brother-in-law’s abdication. They went on to have two daughters, including the future Queen Elizabeth II. Their grandson Charles is the current King.

  1. New York Times
  2. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.175
  3. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.176
  4. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.176
  5. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.177
  6. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.177
  7. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.177
  8. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.178
  9. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross p.180

About Moniek Bloks 2732 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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