Want a Piece of Royal Wedding Cake?
For readers with a sweet tooth, a piece of Princess Louise’s 1871 wedding cake went up for auction at the Antiques for Everyone Fair in Birmingham, England this past week. The piece of cake is believed to be the only remaining portion of the wedding cake. Bids were set to begin at $215 (145 pounds). John Shepard, the antique dealer, purchased the piece from a descendant of a noble family in Kent.
Princess Louise, a gifted artist, was the fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was, in a sense, a very modern princess who refused to marry another royal, looking instead for a love match. Her choice irritated most of the Royal Family by threatening to pull the family into politics; the Prince of Wales was unhappy that his sister was the first British princess to marry a commoner (albeit an aristocrat) since 1515, when Henry VIII’s sister Mary married the Duke of Suffolk.
The cake was 5 feet tall and weighed over 220 pounds (102 kilograms). It took 3 months to make. The one-inch slice that was set to be sold was wrapped parchment paper and has remained unopened for 138 years! Buyers were free to use the cake as they wished. A spokeswoman for the fair said “We advise them not to eat a 138-year-old piece of cake.”
The object of Princess Louise’s adoration was the Marquess of Lorne, son of the Duke of Argyll. Lorne served as Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. During his service Canadian geographical features were named for his mother-in-law and his wife (the capital of Saskatchewan was named Regina for the Queen; the province of Alberta (one of Louise’s later names) and Lake Louise were named in honor of his wife). Canadians welcomed the young couple enthusiastically. The Lornes made many contributions to Canadian society, especially in the arts and sciences. Unfortunately, Princess Louise was unhappy in Canada and she returned to England after having a sleigh accident in Ottawa in 1880.
What began as a love marriage ended unhappily. The Lornes never had children, and Queen Victoria, typically, made many demands upon them as a couple. It is also rumored that Lorne was a bisexual, if not homosexual, and some of his friends were trouble. One close friend was the shady Frank Shackleton, brother of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Frank was a suspect in the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907. The Lorne connection may have protected Frank from arrest in the matter.
Lorne followed his wife home in 1883. He held many posts of importance, including serving as Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle from 1892 to 1914. In 1900 he became the 9th and 2nd Duke of Argyll. Princess Louise and the Duke lived together at Kensington Palace until his death in 1914. Fortunately for Louise, her sister Beatrice lived next door and they were constant companions. After 1918 the princess was seen less frequently in public. She died on December 3, 1939, aged 91, at Kensington Palace.Filed under British Royals, Historical Royals
Tagged Auction, Biography, John Campbell 9th Duke of Argyll, Louise of the United Kingdom, Wedding.