4:06pm Wednesday 20th April 2011
Fifty years ago, York had its own royal wedding, on June 8, 1961, reports STEPHEN LEWIS.
ALL eyes will be on Westminster Abbey on April 29. But as Prince William and his Kate bind their lives together before the eyes of the watching world, it is worth remembering that York had its own royal wedding – and in living memory too.
On June 8, 1961, all eyes were on York Minster as the 25-year-old Duke of Kent – the grandson of King George V and cousin to The Queen and Prince Philip – married local girl Katharine Worsley, of Hovingham Hall.
A youthful-looking Queen, her husband Prince Philip, a very young-looking Prince Charles and the Queen Mother were among the royal guests at the Minster as Miss Worsley was led to the altar by her father, Sir William Worsley, the train of her white dress trailing behind her on the stone floor.
The groom wore the full-dress uniform of his regiment, the Royal Scots Greys, while the bride’s dress, according to descriptions at the time, was a “gown of gossamer white silk gauze woven with a formal design in iridescent silvery thread”.
The ordinary residents of York queued for hours to see the processions to and from the Minster.
Later, with the Royal couple safely on their way to a reception in Hovingham, up to 20,000 people passed through the Minster in just two-and-a-half hours to see the setting of what was dubbed the “White Rose Wedding.”
“Stewards in the Minster were hard-pressed to keep the crowd flowing from the West door to the South door, and they had to be supplemented by other Minster staff,” the following day’s Yorkshire Evening Press reported “The queue stretched from the West Door, went round by St William’s College to Goodramgate.
Police officers helped to keep the procession moving in an orderly fashion.”
In Hovingham, meanwhile, the bells of the parish church pealed out as the new Duchess of Kent arrived, with her husband by her side, to a rapturous welcome from villagers.
“Thy waved flags and handkerchiefs, they cheered – and some shed tears of joy as the bridal car passed slowly down the crowdthronged village… and then between a guard of honour and the Queen’s Own Yorkshire yeomanry and drew up in front of the Riding School entrance,” the Yorkshire Evening Press reported.
“Four dressers rushed forward to help the bride from the car. Then after a brief pause for the benefit of the photographers, she and the Duke walked along the blue carpet which had been unrolled and disappeared from view inside the Riding School.”
The following day the new Duchess and her husband flew to Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate, to begin their honeymoon.
In true Royal fashion they took with them their two dogs: the Duchess’s poodle Charles and the Duke’s golden Labrador, Columbus.
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