Yeovil Celebrates the 1893 Royal Wedding

The 1893 Royal Wedding

How Yeovil celebrated the wedding of Prince George and Princess Mary


Princess Mary of Teck's engagement to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, eldest son of the Prince of Wales, ended after the duke's death on 14 January 1892. Even before the duke's death, his grandmother Queen Victoria had wanted to ensure the succession, and consequently desired that his younger brother and (second-in-line to the throne) Prince George marry either Princess Marie or Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh. After the death of Prince Albert his grandmother Queen Victoria, who was fond of the Duke of Clarence's fiancée, made known her wish for Mary to wed his brother George (now the Duke of York). The situation was embarrassing for the couple, as the country expected their engagement and contemporary newspapers speculated wildly on the affair. Mary was still mourning the duke's death, but faced the intense pressure of her parents, among others.

The wedding of Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), and Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary) took place on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London.

From the diary of Louisa Harris ....

"22 June 1893: A marriage is shortly to take place between the Duke of York younger brother of the late lamented Duke of Clarence, by whose death he is heir to the British crown, and the Princess Mary, the affianced bride of the late Prince. We are going to have a celebration in common with all other towns."



In its edition of 26 June 1893 the Western Morning News reported "The committee (consisting of the Mayor and Corporation and ministers of all denominations in the town) appointed by a public meeting held at Yeovil on June 15th to carry out the arrangements for giving a free tea to the children and aged of the town on the Royal wedding day having declined to carry out the duties which were delegated to them, a second public meeting

The 14 July 1893 edition of the Shepton Mallet Journal reported "At Yeovil the Royal marriage was celebrated in a befitting manner. Early in the morning cannons were fired. At 11 o'clock military bands discoursed lively airs in the principal streets, the bells were rung, and at 12 o'clock business suspended. The streets presented an animated appearance. Business premises and private houses were gaily decorated with flags, mottoes and evergreens. At two o'clock from 2,000 to 3,000 school children assembled in the churchyard, headed by their respective banners, and medals were presented to them by Mr S Watts. The National Anthem was sung, and cheers were given for Mr Watts. An immense procession was then formed, in which were several bands. Proceeding through the principal streets of the town, the children were taken to Wyndham field, where tea was provided at the expense of Mr Watts. Sports subsequently took place, an attractive programme having been arranged by a committee. Each child was afterwards presented with a Bible, provided through the generosity of Mr Watts, and the proceedings were brought to a close by a grand display of fireworks. The streets were gaily illuminated at night, the effect being excellent. The weather was exceedingly fine."


From the diary of Louisa Harris ....

"7 July 1893: The Royal Marriage which took place yesterday was celebrated here in truly loyal spirit. We had Queen's weather and all passed off pleasantly and well. The bells rang out merry peals throughout the day, and the town was gay with coloured bunting etc. Countless fairy lamps and a good many Chinese Lanterns formed a conspicuous feature in the decorations. At early morn, Royal salutes were fired by the Volunteers, later they presented arms in the Borough, and the Band discoursed sweet music. In the afternoon the children of the various Sunday schools assembled in the Churchyard and sang the National Anthem, etc. thence escorted by several bands and with banners waving as they marched in procession to W[yndham] field, where tea was served and each child presented with a bible and commemorative medal through the generosity of Mr S Watts of this town. After tea, divers games were indulged in. In Newton Park there was a fete. Here the Military Band discoursed pleasant music and all manner of sports were engaged in. Proceedings closed with a fine display of fireworks, and illumination of the woods - one of the devices was fire portraits of the prince and princess. Myself and sisters were among those who were at the fete, and had a very good time."






The official wedding photograph of Prince George and Princess Mary of Teck.


The above scarce commemorative medallion in my collection was given to Sunday school children of Yeovil by the then Mayor of Yeovil, Sidney Watts, to commemorate the marriage of HRH Prince George (1865-1936), later King George V (reigned 1910-1936), to HSH Princess Mary of Teck 1867-1953. Mary (full name Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes) was informally known as 'May' after the month of her birth - hence the name on the medallion.

The medallion is just over 38mm in diameter and 2.6mm thick. The obverse carries profile portraits of the prince and princess with the date of their marriage, July 6 1893, around the edge. The reverse carries the edge inscription "TO COMMEMORATE THE MARRIAGE OF" and a central inscription reading "HRH PRINCE GEORGE DUKE OF YORK AND HSH PRINCESS MAY OF TECK PRESENTED BY MR SIDNEY WATTS YEOVIL".



The Yeovil Military Band photographed in 1892. At centre, with the beribboned tunic and holding the baton is band master Alfred Beare. Officially this was the band of Yeovil F Company, 2nd Battalion, Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry.