Nothing brings us together quite like a royal street party, a uniquely British occasion. Later this month, His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales will marry Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle, giving us another excuse to share squash and sandwiches in the spirit of neighbourly fun, as we continue our Royal Celebration blog series, we take a look at how this tradition started.
In the nineteenth century people strung flags across the street to celebrate major occasions. In 1919, after the end of the First World War, mass street parties were organised for the first time. ‘Peace Teas’ were staged up and down the country to celebrate the signing of the Versailles Treaty. Children sat down for tea together at trestle tables, a rare treat during times of hardship, and this tradition caught on for times of national celebration.
When Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh got married in 1947, there wasn’t quite so much flag waving. Materials were in short supply. Even though times were hard, the public generously sent gifts to the Palace. Tins of pineapple and salmon turned up in the post, along with a knitted tea cosy and 16 nightgowns; a touching gesture with rationing still in force. The pomp and pageantry provided some welcome cheer in austere post-war Britain. In 2017, The Queen and Prince Philip reached their Platinum Wedding Anniversary, celebrating 70 years of marriage! Find out more about their wedding day, including a 10,000 mile wedding cake and the dress clicking here.
Of course, another reason to get excited about a royal wedding is the possibility of an extra day off work, sadly not this time though. When Prince Harry and Meghan tie the knot, we have to go back to work, all the more reason to make the most of the festivities and host your own royal celebration! But, bank holidays haven’t always been the preserve of the heir to the throne. In 1973, the nation enjoyed a three day weekend for the wedding of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
In 1981 His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in front of 3,500 guests at St Paul’s Cathedral with 750 million watching on television – making it the most popular broadcast of all time. On the balcony at Buckingham Palace, the newlyweds dispensed with royal protocol and shared a kiss to the delight of the cheering crowds gathered on the Mall. Across the country ten million street party-goers celebrated with their neighbours, testament to our community spirit and sense of national pride.
When Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s turn came in 2011, then Prime Minister David Cameron led the way with the celebrations. With Downing Street decked out in red, white and blue, Number Ten held its own street party. Guests enjoyed cupcakes baked by Mr Cameron’s wife Samantha.
Street parties make memories that last a lifetime, a shared experience as history is made. And long may it continue! How will you be celebrating the Royal Wedding? We would love to know, share your plans with us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
As with most royal celebrations, we mark these happy events with the nation, capturing the moment on UK coins. With the 65th Anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s coronation, new additions to the royal family and an eagerly-anticipated royal wedding, 2018 is a year full of celebrations. Be sure to stay up-to-date by registering your interest here.