Weddings are usually joyful occasions for families. Large families especially mark weddings and funerals as major events in family lore. Those major life events are times of reconnecting with cousins and distant relations that you don’t normally get to see. That was definitely the case of a large family wedding that took place in 1913 in Berlin.
The bride, Vicky, was marrying a guy she’s gotten acquainted with the year before at, of all places, a family funeral. He was even a distant cousin, and his name was Ernie. Vicky’s dad, from the wealthy class, wanted everyone to come to the nuptials of his only daughter (and favorite child), so he sent word to all the family to make their way to Berlin in May 1913 for the wedding of the decade. He also wanted to use the event to bring the family closer. It’s difficult to keep so many people in touch, especially when there are as spread out as Vicky’s family was. So, the extended family began making their way to the city to witness what surely would be a grand time.
Since this family was from the land-owning class, many of the men in this large group were attached to the military, so the wedding party was resplendent with fancy dress uniforms and gleaming medals and swords. The women wore their best expensive gowns to not only the ceremony but also to the various balls and dinners held to celebrate the happy couple’s wedding. Tens of thousands of German marks were spent on the catering, the bands, the alcohol, the gifts, the decorations, and the cake (the height of which reached almost one story, according to one report).
And, so, it proved to be exactly what Vicky and Vicky’s dad wanted. It was indeed an affair that brought this large, wealthy family together in celebration. Yes, it proved to be an amazing time that was reported in all the papers, an event that people were destined to talk about for the rest of the decade.
Except they didn’t talk about it.
The wedding was forgotten in a little over a year, lost in the disaster that was to follow over the next five years.
You see, Vicky, the bride, was named after her great-grandmother, a woman named Queen Victoria of Britain. Her dad was Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and the cousins that came to the wedding–the crown heads of Europe, including King George of Britain and Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and all those other men who wore their uniforms to the event–they went back to their homes and their armies and navies.
And, within 16 months, they would start World War I against each other, in August of 1914 to be exact.
And Vicky’s wedding would be the last time all those royal cousins saw each other alive.