Our next royal wedding is that of Princess Victoria the Princess Royal, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, the future Emperor and Empress of Germany…and known within their families as Vicky and Fritz. As we have seen, the match between these two was truly a love match, and they remained devoted all their lives. In fact, they became semi-secretly engaged—family were informed, but it wasn’t widely announced—when Vicky was not quite 15. As Fritz was nine years her senior, she must have been quite a young lady to enchant a more-or-less grown man, and a very eligible one to boot.
Since her parents decreed that she should not marry before she was seventeen, Queen Victoria had plenty of time to gather Vicky’s trousseau…which she did with a vengeance. In the end, 100 hundred packing cases of everything from clothing (dozens of dresses and fabric for dozens more) to housewares (from carpets to wallpaper to furniture) to dainties from Fortnum and Mason and saddles. Parliament granted her a dowry of £40,000, which would generate her an income of £8,000 per year. Although the Prussians wanted their future king to be married in Prussia, the Queen would not hear of it, and the wedding was set for January 25, 1858, in London.
According to her former governess, Vicky was wonderfully calm and composed all through the fuss of dressing and preparing. Her dress was of white silk moire over a flounced lace petticoat, decorated with sprays of orange blossom and myrtle. Her veil was held on with a matching wreath, and she wore diamonds. The Queen wore lilac, while the mother of the groom, Princess Augusta, wore white with a blue velvet train, and Fritz himself wore the dark blue tunic and white trousers of the Prussian Guards.
Unlike her mother’s wedding day, the weather was clear and sunny for Vicky, and the roads between Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Chapel were thronged with onlookers. The wedding itself seems to have run smoothly: Vicky’s train was long enough that her eight bridesmaids didn’t have to worry about tripping over each other, and while according to the Queen the Archbishop of Canterbury was “very nervous”, the bride and groom themselves were poised and spoke “very plainly”. And when the vows were said, the young couple set a tradition, walking out of the chapel to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. They also set a precedent by stepping out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave to the cheering Londoners.
If Victoria and Albert’s cake was enormous, their daughter’s was no smaller: it stood over six feet tall, and quite hid them from view at the wedding breakfast! Also like her mother, Vicky’s honeymoon at Windsor was a short two days, after which her parents and dozens of other wedding guests arrived. And by February 1, Vicky was sailing away with her new husband for her new life as a Prussian Crown Princess—a life which would often be difficult for the warm-hearted young girl.