Kate Middleton, betrothed to England’s Prince William, made headlines recently when she announced that the couple would be breaking with royal wedding tradition and taking a car to the ceremony. Normally royal brides are carried to their ceremony in a horse drawn coach. The royal family keeps more than 100 historic coaches at Royal Mews, the stable yard and carriage house at Buckingham Palace. In fact, the last three royal brides, Queen Elizabeth in 1947, Princess Margaret in 1960, and Princess Diana in 1981, all arrived in same Glass Coach. The coach gets its name from the large glass windows that surround it.
Theories have flown as to why Kate Middleton has chosen to arrive by car instead of coach. Some feel it is a security issue, or linked to the future Princess’s well publicized allergy to horses. Others feel it is a response to the economic times being felt by the non-royals around the world or even just to stem the tide of comparison’s to Prince William’s mother Diana.
While royal watchers wonder what other modernizations might be made to the ceremony now is a good chance to take a look at the myth and folklore surrounding English royal weddings:
- The color of the dress. Many people will be surprised to learn that white was not always been the traditional wedding color of royal brides, originally it was silver. The switch to white came in the 16th century when Queen Victoria made what was, at the time, a shocking break with tradition.
- Horseshoes as accessories. Royal brides for time out of mind have carried a horseshoe over their arm for good luck. Modern times have made the horseshoe arm band look a little strange so many royal brides have updates the look by having a small horseshoe charm sewn to their dress or having a smaller horseshoe shaped object worn as jewelry.
- Something old, something blue. The Victorians popularized this old rhyme but it actually stems from an older English version that goes, in its entirety: “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, and a lucky sixpence in your shoe”. The something old has been, traditionally for royal brides, their garter which is often passed from Mother to daughter. The sixpence was for the royal men to wear as a symbol of their wealth.
- The ring. In a more recent tradition since 1923 royal English brides have all had rings made from Welsh gold. In fact the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, the Princess Royal, and Diana, Princess of Wales, all had rings made of gold from the same nugget. Only the smallest little bit of this nugget remains (as you can probably imagine) but several years ago the Queen was presented with another nugget which has already been used in part for the ring of Sarah, Duchess of York.