Time to buy your souvenir refrigerator magnets and toilet seats — Britain is having a royal wedding. Prince William marries Kate Middleton on April 29. Here are 10 wedding gifts:
1 While actress Grace Kelly's wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 captivated millions of people around the world, the prince's idea of "courtship" left the Kelly family a little cold. First, Grace had to submit to a fertility test. Then, her father was told he would need to pay a dowry of $2 million before his daughter could become a princess. Outraged, he refused. Grace, also troubled by the demand but wanting to marry, finally persuaded her father to relent. Reportedly, Grace paid half the dowry herself.
2 Before there were Charles and Di, there were Akihito and Michiko the current emperor and empress of Japan. In 1959, the crown prince's courtship and marriage to Michiko, a commoner, was a fairy-tale romance. And the much-anticipated nationally televised nuptials and procession proved a boon for the TV industry. In 1958, there were 1 million TV sets in Japan. A few months after the wedding, there were 3 million.
3 The phrase "close your eyes and think of England" is a bit of wedding-night advice that new bride Queen Victoria supposedly received or gave to her daughter. But the origin of the expression is in dispute, and the Victoria theory appears dubious. The Phrase Finder website notes that Victoria seemed to have a healthy sexual relationship with her husband and gave birth to four sons and five daughters. Which means she "thought of England" at least nine times.
4 Well into the 18th century in Europe, it wasn't uncommon on the wedding night for select guests to escort the lucky royal couple to their private chambers for the bedding ceremony, where they would watch the nightgowned couple get into bed together. Simply lying together under sheets was considered consummation.
5 Not all arranged marriages proved loveless. King Charles I of England met his bride, Henrietta Maria of France, on the day in 1625 when she arrived in Dover for the ceremony. Apparently the 15-year-old, 10 years his junior, was much younger than he expected. But after a rocky start, the pair fell deeply in love. They were openly affectionate with each other and couldn't bear to be parted. In fact, the king's councilors complained of how much time the couple spent together.
6 Japan's Prince Hirohito became engaged to Princess Nagako in 1918, but a government official questioned the match because color blindness ran in Nagako's family. Her father threatened to fatally stab his daughter and himself if the imperial family reneged. The wedding proceeded.
7 When India's Nawab of Junagadh held a royal wedding in 1922, he really put on the dog. The princely ruler hosted a lavish ceremony with thousands of guests to celebrate the wedding of his pet dog Roshanara to a golden retriever named Bobby. The bride was carried on a silver palanquin (a covered sedan chair), while the groom wore a gold necklace and silk cummerbund.
8 After Spain's King Alfonso XIII and Princess Ena of Battenberg were married in Madrid in 1906, a man tossed a bouquet at their bridal carriage. Inside the bouquet was a bomb. The royals were unhurt, but more than a dozen onlookers died.
9 When the king of Swaziland married his ninth wife in 2001, his subjects were not impressed. Mswati III, the world's last absolute monarch, had urged a chastity pledge for girls younger than 18 to help reduce the horrifying spread of HIV in his African kingdom. But his new bride was just 17. A group of girls who had taken the pledge protested in front of his residence. He eventually paid the fine: one cow.
10 King Henry VIII was a notorious husband, and he wasn't much better as a fiance. Henry was reportedly out hunting on the day his second wife Anne Boleyn was beheaded. He rushed to Jane Seymour to share the good news. They were married the next day. And while the wedding was a relatively private ceremony, there were preparations to be made, invitations to be sent, cakes to be baked. All must have occurred even as Boleyn was still alive in the Tower of London.
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
Sources: "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases" by Eric Partridge; "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," by J. Randy Taraborrelli; "Japan Pop!" by Timothy J. Craig; "Memoirs of the Queens of Henry VIII," by Agnes Strickland; "The Personal Rule of Charles I," by Kevin Sharpe; "The Yamato Dynasty," by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave; "Sex with the Queen," by Eleanor Herman; "Queen and Consort: Elizabeth and Philip: 60 Years of Marriage" by Lynne Bell, Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli; "Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty," by Karl Shaw; "Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds," by Leslie Carroll; "Beyond Bizarre: Frightening Facts and Blood-Curdling True Tales," by Varla Ventura; "The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda," by Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin; Chicago Tribune; New York Times; Times of London; The Phrase Finder (phrases.org.uk); CIA Factbook; englishhistory.net.
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