Royal Wedding Recollections – King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg




victoria alfonso wedding
(public domain)

On 31 May 1906, Madrid lavishly celebrated a royal wedding. King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who had been born posthumously to King Alfonso XII of Spain and Maria Christina of Austria, was set the marry the beautiful 18-year-old Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Victoria Eugenie was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria through her youngest daughter Princess Beatrice.

Neither knew that this could have been the day they both could have been killed. That day, Alfonso drove to the Pardo Palace, where Victoria Eugenie was staying, and together they travelled to the Ministery of Marine, where she was dressed in her bridal gown. The gown had been made by 40 seamstresses, who worked on it for 65 days, and it was “one of the most elaborate and exquisitely embroidered gowns ever seen at the Spanish Court.”1 She entered the Church of San Jeronimo to gasps from the guests.

William Miller Collier, the United States Ambassador to Spain, wrote, “To say that the bride was radiantly, superbly beautiful is not flattery. One could not say less and speak the truth.”2 The couple were married by the Archbishop of Toledo, and this was followed by a nuptial mass.

After the religious ceremony, the newlyweds entered the state carriage, which was being pulled by eight plumed horses. Then began the ride to the Royal Palace through the crowds. Victoria Eugenie smiled and waved to the crowd, which shouted “Viva la Reina!” back at her. Shortly before arriving at the Royal Palace, the carriage suddenly stopped, and a floral bouquet was thrown from a nearby balcony. It fell just to the right of their carriage and exploded in a blinding flash – a bomb had been hidden inside it. In an instant, 37 people were killed, and many more were seriously injured.

Victoria Eugenie had closed her eyes as the bomb exploded, but as she opened them again, she found herself not injured but in a heavily damaged carriage. Her new husband, too, had remained unharmed. Several of the horses that had been pulling their carriage were killed. One witness noted that one horse was “on the ground with its legs off and stomach ripped open. His great plumes lying in a mass of blood.”3 Victoria Eugenie’s satin wedding gown was soaked in blood. A guardsman riding next to the new Queen had been decapitated in the blast, and his blood had been blown all over her.

victoria eugenie
(public domain)

Alfonso clasped her face in his hands and asked, “Are you wounded?” She answered, “No, no, I am not hurt. I swear it.” He then told her he believed a bomb had been thrown, and she replied, “So I had thought, but it does not matter. I will show you that I know how to be Queen.”4 The newlyweds alighted their broken carriage to board another one, and they were faced with a scene of carnage – mangled people and horses were on the ground. Victoria Eugenie remained calm and told a wounded equerry to take care of himself. People from the nearby British Embassy emerged and soon surrounded her carriage to escort it on foot to the Royal Palace.

Victoria Eugenie’s mind now began to race, and she repeatedly muttered, “I saw a man without any legs, I saw a man without any legs!”5 However, she knew she was now a Queen and had to act like one. The future Queen Mary (Mary of Teck) was one of the guests waiting at the Royal Palace, and she noted that “Nothing could have been braver than the young couple were, but what a beginning for her.”6 A French diplomat wrote, “Poor little King, poor little Queen… there has been no massacre parallel to this in the history of assassination attempts against monarchs… and the Queen will always keep the horrible impression of death and of the dead as a remembrance of her wedding day.”7

The wedding meal continued as normal as humanly possible, but not everyone thought Victoria Eugenie’s regal bearing was courageous and considered her reaction to be cold and distant. Her mother later wrote, “It does seem so sad, that a day which had begun so brightly for the young couple, and where they were just returning with such thankful happiness, at belonging at last entirely to one another, should have been overclouded by such a fearful disaster. God has indeed (been) merciful to have preserved them so miraculously, and this has only if possible deepened their love for one another and rendered the devotion and their people still more marked.”8

The following day, Alfonso and Victoria Eugenie drove out in an open car but naturally, she shrank back as crowds came close to her. She later wrote her own account of her wedding day, “My wedding day is a perfect nightmare to me & I positively shudder when I look back on it now. The bomb was so utterly unexpected that until it was all over, I did not realise what had happened, then even I was not frightened. It was only when I got into the other carriage that I saw such fearful horrors & then I knew what an awful danger we had gone through. My poor husband saw his best friend, a young officer, fall down dead beside our coach fearfully mutilated & that upset him very much. We are spending now a delicious time together in this lovely old Palace in the mountains & it all seems like a bad dream to us now.”9

The attacker, Mateu Morral, killed himself two days later.

  1. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.139
  2. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.139
  3. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.140
  4. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.140
  5. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.14`
  6. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.142
  7. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.142
  8. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.142-143
  9. Born to rule: five reigning consorts, granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi p.143-144






About Moniek 1968 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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