Wedding of Princess Maud and Prince Carl (partially found footage of royal wedding; 1896)
Laurits Tuxen painting "The Marriage of Princess Maud of Wales, 22 July 1896".
Status: Lumière film - Found / Birt Acres and Robert W. Paul's films - Lost
On 22nd July 1896, Princess Maud of Wales and Prince Carl of Denmark, the future King Haakon VII of Norway, were officially declared wife and husband at the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. The already historic occasion also has significant media relevance, as it became the first wedding ceremony to be filmed, courtesy of several pioneering filmmakers.
Princess Maud of Wales was the youngest daughter of future King Edward VII and one of Queen Victoria's 22 granddaughters. She was also the sister of future King George V. Unlike most other royal figures of the era, Princess Maud delayed marriage until she was 26. Before courting Prince Carl, she, notably tomboyish enough to be nicknamed "Harry", had attempted to form a relationship with Prince Francis of Teck, though ultimately Francis did not reciprocate such feelings. Meanwhile, Prince Carl of Denmark was the second son and child of future King Frederik VIII, and grandson to King Carl XV of Sweden and Norway. Serving as a lieutenant under the Royal Danish Navy, Prince Carl's bloodline linked him to numerous royals across the European continent, including being first cousins with Princess Maud. Maud and Carl frequently met during visits imposed by Maud's mother, Alexandra of Denmark. It soon became apparent the two reciprocated feelings for one another, Carl certainly more so as he expressed his love for Maud since 1892. Maud initially dismissed her future husband, deeming him to be somewhat immature. However, their love for similar hobbies like cycling and the sea, combined with Maud desiring a quiet life away from potentially ascending the Danish throne, would eventually lead to romance blossoming.
Hence, on 29th October 1895, it was announced the couple were engaged. Maud was three years older than Carl, attracting consternation from Alexandra regarding tensions the age gap may bring. However, Carl's background, including his love for sailing that Maud greatly replicated, led to her approving the engagement. Queen Victoria likewise happily supported the new couple, though the future couple faced criticism from Carl's mother, Princess Louise, as she was somewhat disappointed by her son not marrying Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Regardless, no wedding could be organised until after Carl's latest naval duties in the West Indies ceased. A wedding date of 22nd July 1896 was later announced, to be held at the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. This was nearly pushed back following the news of Prince Henry of Battenberg's death from malaria on 20th January 1896, as there was concern the mourning could dampen spirits at the wedding. Alas, the wedding took place on the original date when Henry's wife Princess Beatrice and their children agreed not to attend the ceremony.
With an agreed date in place, Princess Maud had her wedding gown created by Rosalie Whyte of the Royal Female School of Art. Harnessing Spitalfields' white English satin, the dress was complemented by Maud wearing her mother's veil and placing flowers within her hair, while also wearing a necklace and bracelets covered in jewellery. The bouquet she carried consisted of orange blossoms as is standard in weddings; German myrtle as preferred by Queen Victoria and her relatives; and some white jessamine. Maud and her family praised the dress, likely because Whyte realised how most Royal Family members preferred simplistic designs. Meanwhile, Carl opted to wear his Royal Danish Navy uniform. The wedding was declared a non-state affair, though naturally the procession, due to take place from Marlborough House to Buckingham Palace, would be travelling past numerous British and Danish decorations commemorating the wedding.
The wedding was most certainly a happy one, with the ceremony itself being presided by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Edward White Benson. Numerous guests aligned to several Royal Families attended; one painting by Laurits Tuxen shows Princess Maud bowing to Queen Victoria. Following this, two luncheons took place, before the newly weds departed back to Marlborough House to be greeted with streets showing their strong approval of the occasion. Their honeymoon would be spent at Sandringham Estate, which was Maud's father's wedding gift to her. Initially, Maud got the quiet life she desired, though that changed when King Oscar II abdicated from the Norwegian throne on 26th October 1905 after the official dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905. Carl was soon declared the ideal candidate for the vacant crown, with the prince accepting the offer following overwhelming support for a Norwegian monarchy. He therefore ascended the Norwegian throne under the title of King Haakon VII on 25th November 1905. He and now-Queen Maud's coronation occurred on 22nd June 1906. Despite settling in Denmark and later Norway, Maud routinely visited Britain as she declared the country as her real home. Maud remained Queen until her death on 20th November 1938. The couple's son Olav V ascended the throne on 21st September 1957, reigning until 17th January 1991.
The wedding of Princess Maud and Prince Carl commenced during the fledgling era of filmmaking. Among the pioneers was Birt Acres, who gained recognition for projecting 35mm films focusing on actuality settings, including Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour. Such was his growing reputation that on 27th June 1896, he received permission, though not from the Royal Family, to film the Prince and Princess of Wales (Edward VII and Alexandra) arriving at the Cardiff Exhibition along with Princess Maud and Princess Victoria. To achieve this, he placed his new 70mm camera in a newly-torn hole from a window, before proceeding to film the royal party inside, doing so virtually blind as the camera viewfinder could not fit through the hole. Acres wanted to publicly release the film; however, the Prince of Wales first requested the film be screened at Marlborough House for approval, alongside twenty other Acres films. The event, held on 21st July 1896, marked the first ever Royal Command Film Performance. The films were critically acclaimed by the 40 royal guests in-attendance, with the Cardiff Exhibition recording especially delighting the royal figures that, up to that point, had never seen themselves projected in this fashion.
While some newspapers criticised Acres for keeping a scene of the Prince of Wales scratching his head in the film, this was seemingly of little concern to the future King, who personally expressed gratitude to Acres. This event occurred a day before the wedding, prompting Acres to request permission to film the day itself, which was granted by the Prince of Wales via Sir Dighton Probyn. Based on a summary from the 7th August 1896 issue of The Photographic News, Acres filmed via a Kinetic Lantern a series of key wedding events, including the wedding party leaving Marlborough House, the wedding procession at St. James Street, the party leaving Buckingham Palace, and the newly weds leaving Marlborough House for their honeymoon at Sandringham Estate. He was also granted permission to film on the lawns of both structures. His film was later released under the title of Princess Maud's Wedding.
Acres was not the only filmmaker present for the event. His former business partner-turned bitter rival Robert W. Paul was also keen to film the wedding party leaving Marlborough House, with his Animatograph Works production later titled Process of Life Guards and State Carriages leaving Marlborough House. The work was one of twenty later presented at the Alhambra Music Hall in Leicester Square in August that year. Additionally, director Alexandre Promio was tasked by the Lumière brothers to capture footage at St. James Street of the wedding procession travelling back to Marlborough House. Lasting 47 seconds, Cortège au mariage de la princesse Maud was premiered at London's Empire Theatre on 5th October that same year under the title H.R.H. Princess Maud's Wedding Procession returning to Marlborough House. It was later showcased in Cairo, Egypt on 9th December. Technical limitations prevented any footage from being recorded inside Marlborough House or Buckingham Palace. Nevertheless, these recordings are considered among the earliest instances of a filmed wedding.
Of the known wedding recordings, the Lumière film was preserved and remains publicly viewable. However, Paul's film has since been declared missing, despite the fact he had attempted to preserve his works via the British Museum. In July 1896, he wrote a letter to the museum, offering his recent actuality recordings and allow the museum to become the first to hold these now-priceless works. Alas, the British Museum was apathetic to the idea, not even bothering to properly respond to the filmmaker. Thus, many of his actuality films, including Process of Life Guards and State Carriages leaving Marlborough House, were not adequately preserved and are now deemed lost. Acres' film also appears to be missing, though some film stills can be in found in a National Fairground and Circus Archive Repository collection.
British Royal Family Media
- Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (partially found television coverage of royal coronation; 1937)
- King George VI (lost Wembley Speech recording from British monarch; 1925)
- Royal Family (found British documentary film; 1969)
Birt Acres and Robert W. Paul Films
- A Football Match at Newcastle-on-Tyne (lost footage of football match; 1896)
- Bryant & May Matches (lost "first commercial ever made"; 1896)
- The Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race (lost footage of rowing race; 1895)
- Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour (partially found early British actuality films; 1896-1897)
- English Monarchs biography on Princess Maud of Wales, Queen of Norway. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Unofficial Royalty providing a detailed account of the wedding. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Edwardian Promenade detailing the union, the wedding dress, and the couple's life as King and Queen of Norway. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- British Empire biography on Prince Carl of Denmark, King Haakon VII of Norway. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Life in Norway detailing the union between Norway and Sweden that officially ended in 1905. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- The Royal Family detailing the first Royal Command Film Performance. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- The British Monarchy on Screen summarising Acres' Cardiff Exhibition film and Paul's lost film of the wedding. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- British Film Institute biography on Acres. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Who's Who of Victorian Cinema biography on Acres. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- British Film Institute summarising Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour and noting it was screened at the first Royal Command Film Performance. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Essex Film Collective summarising how Acres filmed the Cardiff Exhibition visit. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- 7th August 1896 issue of The Photographic News reporting on the first Royal Command Film Performance and Acres filming of the wedding. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- JOMEC School providing a quote from the 3rd September 1896 issue of the Evening Express on Acres being granted facilities to film the procession/ Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Chronology of the Birth of Cinema 1833 - 1896 summarising Acres' film and providing a photo prior to the recording. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- The Kinetoscope noting Princess Maud's Wedding consisted of multiple shots. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- The Beginnings of the Cinema in England noting both Acres and Paul filmed the occasion, and that no footage was captured inside the abbey. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901 providing a promotion of Process of Life Guards and State Carriages leaving Marlborough House. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Empire and Film summarising Paul's release of his film. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Catelogue Lumière summarising Cortège au mariage de la princesse Maud. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Documentary Filmmaking in the Middle East noting the Lumière film was screened in Cairo in December 1986. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- First recordings of life events noting the wedding was the first to be filmed, but stating Paul's film is lost. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- Paul's Animatograph Works detailing Paul's failed attempt to have his actuality films preserved at the British Museum. Retrieved 28th Apr '23
- University of Sheffield noting some film stills of Acres' film is contained in a National Fairground and Circus Archive Repository collection. Retrieved 28th Apr '23