Friday, April 29, 2011

Festivities at Possenhoven...and at Westminster

In honor of today's royal wedding, here is a delightful account of the betrothal ceremonies of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, at the Castle of Possenhoven in Bavaria, over a century ago.
"On the stroke of five, the military band in the next room struck up a waltz; the doors of the Charlemagne salon opened, and the procession entered. At its head was the slight figure of Princess Elisabeth, walking with slow steps. She wore a white satin dress cut just low enough to show her smooth delicately-shaped shoulders and the graceful column of her throat. A simple coronet circled her chestnut curls. There was a burning blush on her cheeks- she was obviously moved. The Prince's face matched the crimson ribbon on his breast. They talked to each other as they moved along; the Princess, who looked even lovelier than on the previous night, gazed up at her tall cavalier. 
When they had taken their seats, she had eyes for no one but the Prince who was on her left. She took no heed of the King of Roumania on her other side, the Regent who was seated a little further away, nor of the score of princes and princesses who were present. The tiny pages shyly offered their dishes that were handed to them by the footmen. I noticed that the young Princess scarcely took anything; she ate nothing, but talked incessantly to Prince Albert who would nervously crumble his bread whenever the King of Roumania claimed his fiancée's attention for a minute. The two seemed to be absorbed in a world of their own. No one could see them without realizing that this Prince and Princess were true lovers, and that this was their hour; the throne, the historic past evoked by the setting, their exalted rank, their dazzling surroundings might have been non-existent. Their only thoughts were for each other, for their future life together. Their love shed such a lustre over them that everything paled beside them, or, rather, was transfigured, gaining in nobility what was lost in brilliance. They were in love, and at that moment, they were only a man and a maid. The guests themselves were metamorphosed. No longer were they kings, duchesses, generals, ladies-in-waiting- the human touch had made them oblivious of their rank, and in the presence of the lovers, they had become simple men and women. The lights streamed down on radiant faces, on shoulders that would have been as lovely without the glitter of necklaces, eyes that would have sparkled as brilliantly without the answering flash of coronets..." 
As anyone can tell from reading the letters of Albert and Elisabeth, this romance was no mere journalistic myth, but reality. For more than three decades, the King and Queen would support each other through joyful  and sorrowful times, with a pure and profound love nourished by shared faith and good works. May Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, be blessed with the same kind of marriage.
The Service

1 comment:

Ella said...

Albert and Elisabeth's story, in my opinion, is THE Royal love story.