The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is perhaps one of the most celebrated in royal history. Not only were the couple young, rather good looking and desperately in love, their union would become the bedrock of a new royal dynasty that, in time, managed to weave itself into ruling houses across Europe. Their wedding, on February 10th 1840, was a matter of state as well as a ceremonial centrepiece to crown a new reign. But at the heart of it all was a sweet royal romance, expressed rather eloquently in the flowers carried by the bride.
For Queen Victoria’s bouquet was made up entirely of snowdrops, plentiful at that time of year, and with a very special meaning. For the blooms were the favourite flower of her groom, Prince Albert, and the decision to include them in her posy was a tribute to their love.
Queen Victoria, even then, was fond of the language of flowers which gives a meaning to petals and plants. In this old dictionary, a snowdrop denotes hope as it breaks through the cold and ice to bring the first signs of new life in the middle of winter.
Victoria also included orange blossom in her wedding outfit although not as part of the bouquet she carried. Instead, she wore the blooms in her hair with more of their fragrant petals decorating her dress. Orange blossom has long been used at weddings and has some rather appropriate meanings in the language of flowers. It denotes marriage itself as well as eternal love while other meanings attached include fruitfulness and innocence.
However, one flower long associated with a Victorian royal wedding didn’t actually make an appearance at this historic marriage. Queen Victoria didn’t carry any myrtle with her on her big day. The bridal tradition actually began with the wedding of her eldest child, Princess Victoria. The bushes that grow now at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and which are used for modern royal marital bouquets were grown from cuttings taken from Princess Victoria’s bouquet and a nosegay given to Queen Victoria.