On 11 July 1818 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, a double wedding took place in the drawing room at Kew Palace. The happy couples were the Duke of Clarence (the future King William IV) and Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen and his younger brother the Duke of Kent and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Why did they choose Kew? Queen Charlotte, the grooms’ mother, had set out for Windsor to attend the weddings and decided to spend a few days at the Dutch House, as it was then known. She fell ill with dropsy while there and it was decided to hold a double wedding at Kew so that she could be there.
Queen Charlotte died later that year in her bedroom at Kew.
Both Adelaide and Victoria were given away by the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. The service was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Bishop of London. Afterwards, Queen Charlotte returned to her bedroom while the others held a wedding dinner in the Dining Room. The Duchess of Clarence wore, “A very rich and elegant silver tissue, with two broad flounces of beautiful Brussels point lace, each flounce headed with rich silver shell trimming. Body and sleeves superbly trimmed with Brussels point lace and silver tassels. The robe of rich silver tissue, lined with white satin, trimmed with Brussels lace and bordered with a silver trimming to correspond, fastened at the waist with a brilliant diamond clasp. Head-dress a superb wreath of diamonds.” The Duchess of Kent wore, “A very rich and elegant gold tissue, with two superb borders of scalloped lama flouncing, each border headed with a rich gold trimming. The body and sleeves to correspond, richly trimmed with beautiful Brussels point lace, and tastefully ornamented with gold tassels. The robe of rich gold tissue, lined with white satin and trimmed round with rich scalloped lama trimming to match the dress and fastened at the waist with a very brilliant clasp. Head-dress a wreath of diamonds.”1
Other royal attendees included the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Augusta, Princess Sophia of Gloucester, the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and the Duchess of Meiningen (Adelaide’s mother). This was followed by a picnic tea at Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, though the Duke and Duchess of Kent did not attend this and left for Claremont. The Duke and Duchess of Clarence left after the picnic and headed for their apartments in St James’s Palace.
The new Duchess of Clarence would give birth to two living daughters but both would die in infancy. The new Duchess of Kent became the mother of the future Queen Victoria.