Have you noticed there’s a royal wedding happening on Saturday? No? Well where have you been? Maybe your village is holding a street party, or something similar? Or maybe you’re hoping that you can avoid all mention of the event, and you’re now reading this blog in despair…
Whatever your viewpoint, of course, it’s not the first time that a national event involving the Royal Family has had an impact on our county. It might age me to point out I can just about remember Charles and Diana getting married. I still had the commemorative mug until recently, and then it got damaged. There lies another story…
Past times, good company?
And of course our archive and museum hold records relating to royal events. There’s the ‘wedding of the century’ celebrated by the good folk of Nuneaton in 1863. This wedding saw a whole day’s worth of events taking place, starting at half nine in the morning. Looking at the events, including balls, dinners, a parade, and even balloon ascents, the celebrations maybe aren’t too far removed from those we might have today. They’re certainly recognisable, at least.
Sometimes the longevity of a monarch’s reign is cause for celebration and Diamond Jubilees in particular do not come along very often. To celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Church Lawford and Kings Newnham held festivities which included an open air meal and bonfire. Again, these celebrations aren’t overly unusual for a present day taste.
Such celebrations are perhaps in contrast to how Southam chose to mark the Royal Christening of 1842. Prince Albert Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was christened at St George’s Chapel at Windsor (where Saturday’s wedding will take place), and the town decided an act of charity was the best way to mark the event, and money was raised for blankets to be given out to the working people of the town. A far less immediate impression here than a street party, but one that offers a lasting memento, and the record of this survives to this day.
On occasion, of course, royal events were centred in Warwickshire itself. Possibly the most famous is Elizabeth I’s visit to Kenilworth Castle. An act where the celebrations themselves authenticated Elizabeth as monarch, the events were on a scale we can only marvel at, and this was despite certain events being cancelled!
A familiar difference
So, royal events have been celebrated throughout the centuries, in familiar yet different ways. They’ll be celebrated on Saturday, and this too will pass into history in time. What records will people be looking at in 150 years’ time?