Now that Mary was Queen she wished to settle the succession with a child of her own. Her heir at the time was Elizabeth, and she was a Protestant. Mary’s chosen husband was Philip of Spain, who was the son of her first cousin Charles V. They finally married on 25 July 1554, just two days after meeting for the first time. It was the feast day of St. James, the patron saint of Spain. They married at the idyllic Winchester Cathedral.
Philip was the first to arrive, at ten in the morning. ‘His breeches and doublet were white, the collar of the doublet exceeding rich, and over all a mantle of rich cloth of gold, a present from the Queen… this robe was ornamented with pearl and precious stones; and wearing the collar of the Garter’.
The cathedral itself was ‘richly hanged with arras and cloth of god, and in the midst of the church, from the west door unto the rood, was a scaffold erected of timber, at the end whereof was raised a mount, covered all with red say, and underneath the roode-loft were erected two traverses, one for the Queen on the right hand, and the other for the Prince on the left, which places served well for the purpose’.
Mary arrived half an hour later with her entourage. She was attended by a great many ladies and gentlewomen. Nobody bothered to describe Mary’s wedding dress, and it’s only mentioned that the train was carried by the Marchioness of Winchester, assisted by Sir John Gage. Wardrobe records tell us that the dress was in the French style made of ‘rich tissue with a border and wide sleeves, embroidered upon purple satin, set with pearls of our store, line with purple taffeta’. The kirtle was of white satin enriched with silver and a train. A replica was created for the 450th wedding anniversary by Winchester Cathedral, and it looks truly magnificent.
An hour-long service followed the speaking of the vows. As Philip had been ceded the Kingdoms of Naples and Jerusalem before his marriage, Mary also became Queen consort upon marriage. During the wedding reception, the two dined under the cloth of state. Dancing followed after the meal. They retired early to prepare for the night ahead. The wedding bed was blessed by Stephen Gardiner, and they were finally left alone. There was little speculation about the wedding night. Philip left at 7 in the morning and heard mass; Mary remained in private with her ladies. I can only imagine Mary would have made sure the marriage was consummated, considering her mother’s troubles in the past. 1
Mary had perhaps believed in the past that she would never become a wife and was resigned to remain a virgin. For the sake of the country and the succession, she made a political marriage. Despite her age (37) she hoped to conceive a child. The future would prove that this was not to be, but for now, Mary was quite happily married to her prince.