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British Royal Wedding Bouquets Through the Centuries

February 28, 2024

Since Queen Victoria's 1840 wedding, every royal bride has included a sprig of this flower in her bouquet. Can you guess what it is?

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Photo: Getty Images/Rischgitz

1840: Queen Victoria

The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is the stuff of fairy tales — guy and girl fall in love, girl proposes to guy because she's a monarch and legally has to ... you know the story. Thankfully, he said yes! On her wedding day, the bride carried a small bouquet of snowdrops (Albert's favorite flower) and myrtle, a Hebrew symbol for love and marriage. A few years later, Victoria would plant a piece of myrtle from a nosegay given to her by Prince Albert's grandmother in her garden. Cuttings from this plant have been used in almost every royal bridal bouquet since, starting with Princess Royal Victoria (the Queen's daughter) at her wedding in 1858. After the wedding, the cutting is planted in the bride’s garden by a bridesmaid. Legend has it that if it doesn’t take root, whoever planted it will become an old maid.

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Photo: Getty Images/Heritage Images

1863: Queen Alexandra

Less than two years after the death of Queen Victoria's beloved husband Albert, their son and heir, Prince Albert Edward (later Edward VII), married Princess Alexandra of Denmark at St. George Chapel. In contrast to the bride's flower-laden wedding dress dripping in orange blossoms and myrtle, Alexandra carried a relatively simple bouquet packed with meaningful blooms: white rosebuds (purity and innocence), lily of the valley (happiness), rare white orchids (love and fertility) and the traditional sprig of myrtle (love and marriage). The posy must have worked its magic — the couple would go on to be married for 47 years, have six children and rule the United Kingdom for the first decade of the 20th century, later known as the Edwardian era.

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Photo: Getty Images/D. Downey

1893: Queen Mary

The wedding of the current king's great-grandparents was an unusual one — the bride had previously been engaged to her groom's older brother who died of pneumonia the previous year. But Queen Victoria was so fond of the young Princess Mary of Teck, that she strongly encouraged Prince George (second in line to the throne) to marry her instead. So, on July 6, 1893, the couple wed at St. James Palace in London on one of the hottest days of the year. The bride carried an oversized bouquet of all-white blooms: orchids (symbolizing love and fertility), lily of the valley (happiness), carnations (pure love and good luck), orange blossoms (fertility), the traditional sprigs of myrtle and York roses, as Mary was soon to become the Duchess of York. Despite the couple's odd beginnings, they went on to enjoy 43 years of happily wedded bliss, have six children and rule England for 25 years.

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Photo: Getty Images/Downey

1896: Princess Maud of Wales

Princess Maud, the fifth of Edward and Alexandra's six children, married her maternal first cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) on July 22, 1896 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. The spunky bride, fondly called 'Harry' by her family, wore orange blossoms in her hair instead of a tiara and carried a modest bouquet of trailing white jessamine (love and purity), orange blossoms (fertility) and cuttings from Queen Victoria's German myrtle plant. Maud would later become Queen of Norway when her husband was chosen as monarch of the newly independent country. She's the great-grandmother of the current King Harald V of Norway.

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