Wedding of Prince Henry of Prussia and Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, 1888

The Wedding of Prince Henry of Prussia, son of Emperor Frederik III of Germany and Victoria, the Princess Royal, and his first cousin, Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, daughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin on this day in 1888. The couple, known as ‘The Very Amiables’ had three sons, residing at Schloss Hemmelmark through the upheavals of the First and Second World War. The Prince died in 1929, and the Princess in 1953.

The main Royal Ceremony during the 99-day reign of Emperor Frederik III, the Wedding was described:

The wedding of Prince Henry of Prussia, the younger son of the German Emperor and Empress, with Princess Irene of Hesse, the third daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse and the late Princess Alice, was celebrated in the chapel of the Charlottenburg Palace.

The ceremony was comparatively private, owing to the Emperor’s health, but was nevertheless attended with all due Royal pomp, while a number of princely guests were present, including the Prince of Wales and the Crown Prince of Greece. The chapel in which the service was celebrated, however, was too small to accommodate many guests, being intended to hold only forty persons, though, by removing the seats, room was made for a larger number. The interior of the chapel, which dates to 1708, is ornamented in rococo style, and for the occasion the walls were beautifully decorated with roses.

As soon as the guests had assembled in the Palace, the Empress placed a crown, the emblem of royalty, on the bride’s head, and the civil marriage was performed in the Blue Saloon by the Lord Chief Chamberlain. The Royal party then proceeded in procession to the chapel, where they were received and conducted to the altar by the Court Chaplain, Dr. Kögel, and his assistant clergy. The Royal Party formed a semicircle before the altar, the Dowager Empress being present in her chair, while the minor personages were accommodated in rooms leading out of the chapel.

Almost as soon as the service had begun the Emperor entered, walking into the chapel with a firm tread, and took up his place at the right of the bridal couple, the Grand Duke Louis of Hesse, the father of the bride, standing on the left. Dr. Kögel then preached a sermon, the text being the twenty-seventh verse of the fourteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you,” in which he alluded to the fact that the betrothal took place on the late Emperor’s ninetieth birthday, and the wedding on the birthday of Queen Victoria.

A chorale of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s was then sung, and the rings were exchanged — this portion of the ceremony being signified to the outside world by three successive volleys of twelve cannon. The bridal couple next knelt to receive the blessing, and the service concluded with a hymn.

The chaplain shook hands with Prince Henry and his bride, who then went up to the Empress Augusta, whom they kissed affectionately. The Empress Victoria, who was visibly affected, warmly embraced the Princess, as also did the Emperor. When, however, Prince Henry came up to the Emperor, the latter placed both arms round him, kissed him on both cheeks and on his forehead, and then held his hand on his head, retaining him long in a close embrace. The Prince of Wales also kissed his niece and shook hands with Prince Henry. The congratulations over, the Emperor bowed to the guests, and with the Empress Augusta and the Prince and Princess Henry withdrew, the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Emperor seemed very well throughout the ceremony, and did not cough once.

At the wedding breakfast the Crown Prince, acting for the Emperor, who was not present, proposed the health of the newly-wedded couple. By two o’clock the meal was over, and the bridal garter having been cut up and distributed according to custom, Prince and Princess Henry left an hour later for Schloss Erdmannsdorf in Silesia, where they have been spending their honeymoon.


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