Picked as a royal bride by Queen Victoria herself, Princess Mary of Teck would find her way to the altar in the most unusual circumstances. For Mary ended up saying ‘I do’ to the second king in waiting selected as a husband for her. But her marriage proved to be a happy one as well as a royal success story. On the anniversary of the marriage of King George V and Queen Mary, Royal Central looks back at the bride who became a matriarch.
Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes of Teck walked into the Chapel Royal of St. James’ Palace in London on that July morning as something of a minor royal and left it as queen in waiting. The bride, usually called Mary and known as May to her family, had been picked for the role by Queen Victoria herself who had arranged a marriage with her grandson and second in line to the throne, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, only for the groom to die six weeks after the couple announced their engagement. In the deep mourning that followed, Mary became close to Albert Victor’s brother, George, Duke of York. George not only took on the role of second in line, he fell for his brother’s fiance and the couple announced their engagement in 1893. And Mary was more than ready to become a bride.
The wedding was to be a major celebration with May at its heart. The bride chose the theme of ‘May Silks’ for her marriage and the dress she wore reflected that. It was designed by Arthur Silver of Silver Studios of London and his work produced delicately decorated cream coloured silk satin shaped into a fitted bodice and a full skirt with a panel of lace at its front and assembled by Linton and Curtis of Albermarle Street. Like many royal brides of the time, May chose to have her dress trimmed with flowers but as a queen to be, she knew her gown had to be symbolic. Her outfit included embroidered roses, thistles and shamrocks.
But this was a personal event as well as a very public occasion. Mary wore her mother’s wedding veil for her own marriage. The Honiton lace was worn away from her face and held in place by orange blossoms. Mary, who would go on to amass one of the best collections of tiaras known to royalty, followed the lead of other royal brides and wore no diadem on her wedding day. However, she did use some diamond pins given to her by Queen Victoria. And like the woman who became her grandmother-in-law on that day, Mary used her wedding outfit as a public relations tool. She had the silk woven in Spitalfields in the East End of London, giving a much needed boost to the industry as details of the gown were relayed around the world.
May carried a bouquet of white and cream flowers with a sprig of Osborne myrtle nestling among the petals. The papers of the time reported that she looked nervous as she headed for her wedding but those early anxieties soon disappeared. This royal bride became a bedrock of the family she married into while her own PR skills, allied with those of her husband, helped bring their dynasty into the 20th century. May, the July royal bride, had overcome the sadness of the past to begin a marriage that would shape the future of the monarchy itself.