It’s been a seat of royal tradition for centuries, a place of coronations, kings and queens. But for much of its ancient history, Westminster Abbey was far from a go to place for royal weddings. From the end of the 14th century until the beginning of the 20th, no regal marriages took place there at all. But the House of Windsor changed all that. For the last century, it’s been a popular venue for royal weddings with one of the most famous, that of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, taking place there nine years ago today.
Here are the Windsor brides who wed at Westminster Abbey.
Princess Patricia of Connaught
The first royal bride to walk the aisle of Westminster Abbey for centuries made history in more ways than one. Princess Patricia left her HRH at the altar to marry Alexander Ramsey on February 27th 1919. Although she gave up her royal status, she lost none of her popularity and remained a much respected member of the House of Windsor.
Princess Mary, Princess Royal
The only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, Princess Mary, chose the Abbey for her wedding on February 28th 1922. Special stands were built inside its ancient walls to pack in more guests as the princess married Henry, Viscount Lascelles. Her bridesmaids included a future queen who would wed at Westminster just a year later.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite, youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, had already turned her handsome prince down twice before finally saying ‘I do’ on April 26th 1923. Lady Elizabeth wed Albert, Duke of York at Westminster Abbey on a rainy April day. The couple returned there fourteen years later to be crowned King George VI and Queen Elizabeeth.
Princess Marina, Duchess of KentEmbed from Getty Images
Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark became the Abbey’s four royal bride of the 20th century when she married George, Duke of Kent there on November 29th 1934. Their wedding was the first to be broadcast by radio as well as on loudspeakers for the huge crowds outside.
Queen Elizabeth IIEmbed from Getty Images
Perhaps the most famous Windsor marriage to take place at Westminster Abbey unfolded on November 20th 1947 when a young princess became the first female heir to the throne to wed within its walls. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, daughter of King George VI, married Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in a celebration seen as the boost a war weary nation needed. Theirs is now the longest royal marriage in British history and the Queen and Prince Philip will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary later in 2020.
Princess MargaretEmbed from Getty Images
Margaret Rose, younger daughter of George VI and Queen Elizabeth, said ‘I do’ to Antony Armstrong-Jones at the Abbey on May 6th 1960. Her Norman Hartnell dress and grand as can be tiara turned her into the ultimate royal style icon of the Sixties and plenty got to see it. This was the first royal wedding broadcast on TV with millions tuning in around the world.
Princess Anne, Princess RoyalEmbed from Getty Images
The first marriage of Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, only daughter of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, took place at Westminster Abbey on November 14th 1973. The princess, who chose to marry on her big brother’s 25th birthday, wed Captain mark Phillips in a ceremony watched by 100 million around the world. The couple divorced in 1992.
Sarah, Duchess of YorkEmbed from Getty Images
Sarah Margaret Ferguson became the Abbey’s next royal bride on July 23rd 1986 when she wed Prince Andrew there. The groom was made Duke of York, the traditional title of the second son of a Monarch, on the morning of the marriage. The marriage ended in divorce in 1996.
The Duchess of CambridgeEmbed from Getty Images
The most recent royal bride of Westminster Abbey is Catherine Elizabeth Middleton who married the second in line to the throne, Prince William, there on April 29th 2011. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding was a holiday in the UK while estimates of the TV audience reach over a billion.