Royal Celebrations

It’s a busy time for the Royal Family at the moment. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her third child last week and Prince Harry is to marry Meghan Markle at Windsor in May. Unlike William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, the general public will not be getting a holiday. But this will not stop some people from celebrating the happy occasion. Over the years, weddings in the Royal Family have been marked in different ways. Let’s take a look at how three royal weddings were celebrated in Dundee.

Frederick and Augusta

Frederick, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of George II. In 1736 he married Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. This was the first marriage of an heir to the British throne since the Hanoverian dynasty took the crown in 1714, and the first marriage of a Prince of Wales since Arthur Tudor (Henry VII’s brother) married Catherine of Aragon in 1501.

The wedding took place on 27 April, and 10 days later on 6 May the Council met to solemnize the occasion. First they proceeded to the Cross at four o’clock in the afternoon and drank to health of the couple. Thereafter they headed to the town house, inviting various local dignitaries and former Lord Provosts to raise a few more glasses to the health of the royal couple. In short, there must have been a right royal booze up!

Marriage of Frederick Prince of Wales, 1736
Minutes of the Town Council, 6th May 1736

This is the first mention of a royal wedding in the Town Council minutes that we can find. It is possible that the council was trying to keep in with the Hanoverians after the failed Jacobite rebellion in 1715. (The Town Clerk famously supported the Pretender to the throne and was fired after the uprising)

But hang on a moment, there was no King Frederick! Unfortunately Freddie died before his father and never became king. Frederick did however have 9 children and the crown passed straight to his son, George III.

George and Mary

George was the second son of Prince Albert of Wales (Edward VII). His elder brother Albert was engaged to Victoria Mary of Teck, but he died shortly afterwards in 1892. Victoria, or May as she was known, was then engaged to George to whom she had grown close after Albert’s death. The wedding took place on 7th July 1893.

The Town Council encourages everyone to decorate their buildings.

The celebrations in Dundee were quite extravagant. The Town House and many other buildings in town were draped with banners of blue and red, bunting was strung up over streets and flags hung out of windows.  There were attractions such as the band of the 1st Rifle Volunteers playing on Reform Street, a horse parade on Dock Street, fireworks from Magdalene Green, rowing races on the Tay, and a hot air balloon ascent from the gas works.

Minutes of Dundee Parochial Board, 1893
Minutes of Dundee Parochial Board, 1893

The Lord Provost entertained 300 people for a luncheon in the Victoria Gallery at the Albert Institute (now the McManus). The catering was provided by the team at the Royal Hotel on the Nethergate. Meanwhile the inmates of the poorhouses were treated to a special tea and musical entertainment, and all of the Board Schools closed for the afternoon so that the children could enjoy the celebrations. Some of them clearly enjoyed it too much as attendance was down in many schools on the Friday.

Ancrum Road School Log Book
Ancrum Road School Log Book, 7 July 1893

Albert and Elizabeth

Prince Albert, another Duke of York, married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on 26 April 1923. Although he would later become George VI, at the time of his marriage Bertie was not in line for the throne. Possibly due to this, or perhaps due to the aftermath of the war, the celebrations in Dundee appear to have been a little less extravagant that those for this father in 1893. The flags and the bunting were trotted out and a peel of bells rang out from the Old Steeple at 11:30, but there was no parade, races or hot air balloons. Perhaps tastes had just changed. One upgrade from the wedding celebrations of 1893 was that the children of 1923 were given a whole day off. This wasn’t a local decision, but rather as a result of a decree from the King.

The King requested that all schools were given the day off for the wedding. Dundee School Board Minutes, 1923


Rather than host a luncheon in the Albert Institute, the ex-Lord Provost William Longair held a special party at the Dundee Orphan Institution. A concert was performed by the children and they were each given a florin and a slice of iced cake. Speaking of cake, the children at Dunalistair House, the Black Watch Memorial home, were also treated to pieces of a wedding cake. Elizabeth became the Commander in Chief of the Black Watch in 1936. A ball was also held in the Marryat Hall featuring music from Duncan’s Syncopated Orchestra.

Annual Report of the Royal Dundee Orphan Institute, 1922-3
Annual Report of the Royal Dundee Orphan Institute, 1922-3

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