As we all know, honeymoons haven’t always been customary after marriage, but they’re one of our favourites! Wealthy Victorian men and women formerly toured Europe on months-long honeymoon tours, seeing all the sights on offer and spending weeks at a time in one place or another. For royals, however, especially those granted responsibility at the time of their marriage, this was seldom the case, and most of them spent their honeymoons locally. If William and Kate do stay close to home, they will merely be following in the tradition of Will’s ancestors.
In the modern world, the time we can spend on a honeymoon has shrunk, but it is now open to virtually every couple, a sure sign of progress which doesn’t take away our ability to remember the past! We’ve chosen a few royal honeymoons to spotlight today as the current royal couple get ready to go on theirs.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent their honeymoon in 1840 at Windsor Castle. It was a brief honeymoon, only three days, and apparently the bride spent her wedding night complaining of a headache! A bit early for the headaches to begin, but her diary entries indicate that she was a very happy woman. Their wedding is most famously known as the first white wedding because the queen wore white; previously, it had been acceptable for a woman to just wear her best dress and then wear it again.
Edward VII and Queen Alexandra began their marriage with a honeymoon on the Isle of Wight at Osborne House, while Edward’s mother Victoria was still alive. It was actually her favourite seaside home and can now be visited as it is owned by English Heritage. The couple were intense socialites and had no responsibilities at the time of their marriage, so were often free to indulge in parties of which the general public disapproved.
George V and his bride, Mary of Teck, were married in 1893 and spent their honeymoon at Sandringham in Norfolk, which was his father the Prince of Wales’s estate. At the time, George was the Duke of York and third in line to the throne after his father and his grandmother, Queen Victoria. Sandringham was the place the king loved more than anywhere else in the world and is still held by the Royal Family, though has been open to the public since 1977.
Scandalous Edward VIII and his American divorcee bride Wallis Simpson spent their honeymoon abroad for a change, coinciding with their departure from the country as Edward had abdicated the throne. The wedding itself was simple and the couple honeymooned in Austria.
George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were married in 1923 and again stayed in the UK for their honeymoon, spending part of the time at Polesden Lacey, a country estate in Surrey. This one is now open to the public and owned by English Heritage should you wish to step into the Royals’ footsteps. They spent another part of their honeymoon at Frogmore House, which is set in the Home Park of Windsor Castle. Many of us will be newly familiar with George ‘Bertie’ and his wife thanks to recent successful film The King’s Speech.
Next up on our list of royal honeymoons is current Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. After marrying in 1947, the couple went to Scotland on their honeymoon at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estuary. They still clearly adore Scotland; everyone knows that Balmoral Castle is their favoured residence and is occupied every year by the Queen and her husband over the summer.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana had a much longer honeymoon to start off their ill-fated marriage. Most of their honeymoon took place on the royal yacht Britannia, also a favourite with other lower ranked royals and which has now been decommissioned, making it unavailable for William and Kate. They wrapped up their honeymoon in Scotland with days of long walks and hunting.
We can all hope that the future has greater things in store for Prince William and his new bride! It will start off with their honeymoon; we’ll see if they break that royal tradition and spend most or all of it out of the UK. We’re hoping it’s Australia!