TheGenealogist.co.uk is continually adding to their Newspaper and Magazine collections and this week will see the addition of another 6 months of the Illustrated London News. The new issues date from July 5th 1862 to December 27th 1862 and include an extra Christmas supplement.
With this year's Royal Wedding coming up, using our Illustrated London News you can look back at the historical Royal Wedding newspaper coverage, such as the marriage of Princess Alice and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse.
Princess Alice was the second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and was born on the 25th of April 1843. She was named in honour of Victoria's first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, who had commented in conversation with the Queen that Alice was his favourite name. Victoria and Albert had nine children during their 21 year marriage and found Buckingham Palace was not suitable for their large family. They purchased a family home, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and raised their children with traditional family values, teaching them real life skills such as cooking, housekeeping, carpentry and gardening.
Alice had a keen interest in the outside world and was known to visit the tenants and workers on their Balmoral estate. She escaped her governess at Windsor Castle to sit in the public pews at the chapel, and at the age of eleven she toured London hospitals with her mother and elder sister visiting wounded soldiers of the Crimean War. She was considered the most caring of all her siblings and as a follower of Florence Nightingale became heavily involved in nursing during the Austro-Prussian War. She stayed by her grand-mother’s side during her final days, and also nursed her father, Prince Albert, before his death in 1861. Queen Victoria turned to Alice for support during her period of mourning and it was Alice that became the public figure of monarchy acting as Victoria’s unofficial secretary.
Plans for a potential marriage for Alice had begun in 1860, but all of Queen Victoria’s suggestions were found to be unsuitable. Victoria had always encouraged her children to marry for love but it was still considered essential for them to marry within the royal circle. It was Alice’s elder sister Princess Victoria, recently married to the German Emperor Frederick III, who suggested Prince Louis of Hesse. She had originally gone to Hesse to meet a potential bride for their younger brother but was impressed by Prince Louis and his brother Prince Henry. The family were invited by Queen Victoria to Windsor Castle to watch the Ascot Races and it was clear how well Louis and Alice got on. There was a mutual attraction between them and they were engaged the following year on 30th April, 1861.
However, Alice’s happiness was overshadowed by her father’s death on 14th December 1861 and her mother’s mourning. In contrast to the forthcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate, Alice and Louis’s wedding on 1st July 1862 was a quiet event held in the dining room of Osborne House, and was reported as the saddest royal wedding of modern times. Although Alice wore a white dress during the ceremony she was required to wear black mourning clothes before and after, and much of the royal family shed tears during the day.
The Illustrated London News was the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper, founded in 1842, and was aimed at the general public. It demonstrates the changes occurring in society over the Victorian period as the population increased dramatically and the Reform Act of 1832 meant that more people were eligible to vote. As many people around the country were illiterate, the new illustrated newspaper allowed people of all social classes to be informed of daily events at home and around the world. The power of the media in reaching the masses was now beginning, and just as the wedding of Prince William and Kate will be televised around the world, the wedding of Princess Alice and Prince Louis was portrayed in pictures in the 1862 editions of the Illustrated London News:
Despite the sadness surrounding the wedding, Alice and Louis were extremely happy together and had a strong marriage. Alice was very supportive of her husband, particularly when his father Prince Karl died in 1877, leaving Prince Louis as his uncle’s heir. His uncle, Grand Duke Louis III of Hesse died only a few months later and the couple became the Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. They had seven children, many of which became important figures in world history. Their fourth daughter Alix married the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and was executed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution. Her great grandson Prince, Philip of Greece, married our current reigning monarch, Elizabeth II in 1947.
The Illustrated London News is part of a growing collection of newspapers available on TheGenealogist to all Diamond Premium subscribers. Newspapers give contemporary accounts of the world your ancestors lived in from day to day. They provide insight into opinions of the time and can also provide information on individuals which would not otherwise be recorded. As well as reporting on weekly events, the newspaper contains many announcements of births, marriages, deaths, obituaries, wills and bequests.