Were you as surprised as I was when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary last month? Where has the time gone?!?
It just doesn’t seem that long ago that Prince William and Kate Middleton were married. I remember so clearly getting up early on the big day to watch every moment of television coverage.
I did the same thing when Prince William’s father Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer; ditto when Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones, Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank, and the list goes on!
I guess I’m just a lover of royal weddings, those that occur during my lifetime as well as those from history.
This month marks the 108th anniversary of one of my favorite royal weddings from history—that of Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia and Prince Ernst August of Brunswick-Lhneburg.
It’s at the top of my favorites list because:
- Viktoria and Ernst married for love.
- They had to overcome a half a century of enmity between their feuding families.
- Their wedding was attended by Europe’s great leaders, and marked the last time those monarchs were together before war destroyed their countries and their thrones.
The feud between Viktoria’s and Prince Ernst’s families began in 1866 when Prussia annexed Hanover and deposed Prince Ernst’s forebears. But in 1912, when Prince Ernst was twenty-four years old, his older brother died in an automobile accident. Prussian Emperor Wilhelm II unexpectedly sent a message of condolence.
In response, Prince Ernst went to Berlin to personally thank the Emperor for his message. While there, Prince Ernst met and fell in love with the emperor’s only daughter, Princess Viktoria Luise. The Princess would later admit that she had never even heard of Prince Ernst before they met, but “For me, it was love at first sight.”
Now I ask you: Isn’t that a perfectly romantic ending to a fifty-year-old feud?
In reality there were a lot of complex negotiations that had to be ironed out between the two houses before any formal announcement could be made, but on May 24, 1913 the couple wed.
Princess Viktoria was twenty years old, pretty and vivacious.
Prince Ernst was twenty-five, handsome and quiet.
The short ceremony was followed by a ceremonial banquet with over 1,100 guests. Among them were the German Emperor Wilhelm II, King George V, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, as well as dozens of lesser rulers and Princes; but it was the last time these three rulers would meet before the world erupted in war and two of those mighty thrones were destroyed.
It was Europe’s last great royal wedding, and a fleeting symbol of unity in a world that changed drastically with the onset of World War I the following year.
The couple survived both world wars and had five children together; and if Viktoria’s letters and memoirs are to be believed, she and Prince Ernst lived happily ever after.
As romantic as their personal story was, Ernst and Viktoria were on the wrong side of history when it came to their conduct during both world wars (but that’s a separate post). If you’d like to read more about their lives, here are some links to get you started: