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European Royals

The royal wedding of an obscure prince and princess that ended up creating a new monarchy

Almost 120 years ago, a prince and princess stepped off a ship and set a new monarchy afloat. Just a few months before their arrival, neither had had any expectation of a crown. But in November 1905, Prince and Princess Carl of Denmark began their sea journey to a new life where they became king and queen. Their path to a throne began nine years earlier in a very Victorian wedding. However, the seemingly run of the mill royal union that began that day would transform the lives of two royals and one monarchy. Here, Royal Central looks back at the wedding of Maud and Haakon, Queen and King of Norway.

The couple who said ‘I do’ walked into their wedding as Prince Carl of Denmark and Princess Maud of Wales. The groom was the second son of the heir to the Danish crown, the bride was the youngest daughter of the man first in line to the British throne. While their fathers had spent decades preparing to rule, neither Carl nor Maud ever expected to reign. The prince had pursued a naval career while the princess had been a tomboy in her youth and was marrying relatively late for a royal woman.

For all Maud’s modernity, she still needed the permission of her royal family to exchange vows. Queen Victoria was required to give the nod for Maud to marry but she liked Carl, describing him as handsome. She also had few fears about the pair getting along – they had known each other for years as the princess had spent a lot of time in Denmark with her mother, Alexandra, who was the sister of Carl’s father. Their engagement was announced on October 28th 1895.

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The wedding took place almost nine months later. Guests gathered in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace on July 22nd 1896 for the ceremony which was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Maud walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, the Prince of Wales, while Carl was accompanied by his two brothers.

The bride wore an ivory silk satin dress covered with floral embellishments including jasmine and orange blossom in the typical bridal style of the time. It featured a corsetted top with a tiny waist and a full skirt. Maud also wore her mother’s wedding veil, secured by more flowers. She was accompanied by eight bridesmaids.

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After the ceremony, a reception was held at Buckingham Palace before the new Prince and Princess Carl of Denmark went out to greet the crowds who had come to see them as they made their way to Marlborough House in London for more celebrations. The final stop on their wedding day was Appleton House at Sandringham, a wedding present from Maud’s father and a place that would become a favourite residence for them in the years to come.

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Carl and Maud divided their time between Denmark and England for the next nine years, welcoming their only child, Alexander, in 1903. But not long afterwards, Carl was asked to become King of Norway, in part because of the links he and his wife had to so many royal houses. The couple, along with their son, arrived in Oslo in November 1905 as King Haakon, Queen Maud and Crown Prince Olav, beginning a new monarchy and a new era. It was a discreet royal wedding for a discreet royal couple but it ended up changing royal history forever.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.