6 things you don’t know about Royal ballet weddings

6 things you don’t know about Royal ballet weddings

To celebrate the wedding of HRH Prince William & Catherine Middleton, Ballet News brings you 6 things you might not have associated with ballet including sparkling champagne bubbles, acres of tulle & tutus, flowers and of course, ballet!

An underage wedding wasn’t always frowned upon in Royal circles

The marriage of Florentine Catherine de’Medici to Henry 11 in 1533 (she was 14) heralded the development of ballet de cour (court ballet) which was essentially social dancing that included song, speech and a fair degree of pageant. Catherine’s love of the arts has influenced towards ballet as we know it today.

Tamara Rojo and Rupert Pennefather in La Sylphide Photograph : Johan Persson

The oldest surviving ballet is the most romantic

Marie Taglioni’s 1832 debut at the Paris Opera Ballet in August Bournonville’s La Sylphide is notable for several reasons, not least that this story of a Sylph dressed in white tulle introduced the idea of female ballet dancers presented as ‘supernatural’ in some way. La Sylphide was very successfully revived by Royal Ballet Principal, Danish born Johan Kobborg in 2005 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Kobborg danced with the Royal Danish Ballet early in his career and was promoted to Principal after his debut as James, from La Sylphide in 1994.

Wedding dress fabrics are used in unusual ways

Insect netting can be made from ‘bobbinet’ (a British creation) that is made by mixing the warp and weft threads to create a very strong (in relation to the fabric) hexagonal design. It’s then called tulle netting which is used in bridal veils and gowns, as well as in ballet tutus. It takes its name from the French town of Tulle.


Sweetness, bravery and most of all happiness

Ashton’s A Wedding Bouquet is a funny tale with the action focused on the guests, some of whom are former mistresses of the groom and  include Pepe, the dog.  Based on Gertrude Stein’s play They Must be Wedded To Their Wife, The Royal Ballet will revive this ballet in their 2011/12 season. Antony Tudor’s The Lilac Garden is a more serious take on the emotional undercurrents present on the eve of an Edwardian wedding. Some people believe that lilac, in a wedding bouquet, symbolises youth and confidence, and lilac trees decorate Westminster Abbey for the service. Catherine Middleton’s bridal bouquet contains Lily of the Valley (symbolizing sweetness), white roses (happiness and “I am worthy of you”) and Oak/Acorns (bravery, hospitality, England and endurance).

Sprinkle a little fairydust with a very special Royal Patron

Prince William’s mother loved ballet. Diana, Princess of Wales was an enthusiastic, exemplary and much loved Royal Patron of English National Ballet between 1989-1997, often arriving unannounced for rehearsals and to have a chat with the dancers away from the cameras.  A good dancer herself, with English National Ballet she could escape from the formality of the Palace across the road and she revelled in the down-to-earth, hard-working atmosphere of the ballet company.

Every Princess needs to keep a close eye on the guest list 

There’s perhaps no ballet Princess happier to be finally whisking her man down the aisle than Princess Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty. Having been tricked and sent to sleep for 100 years, Aurora’s wedding day is cause for much celebration at the Palace and beyond.  Today as Prince William marries commoner Catherine Middelton there may not be dancing cats or fairies bearing gifts but there are huge celebrations and street parties taking place across the land.

Once the wedding service is over, the 10 bells from Westminster Abbey ring a full peal of 5000 changes (each committed to memory), taking over three hours with no break by the ringers, and no sequence will be repeated. The Royal Wedding peal is called Spliced Surprise Royal.


Before the service begins & for those early guests sitting in the Abbey, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring by Frederick Delius is my favourite among the chosen music.  Wonderful music for a ballet ! You can listen to a glorious snippet by clicking below :

Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring / The Walk to the Paradise Garden / Spring Morning (Audio CD)

List Price: £7.75 GBP
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As Catherine arrives at the Abbey, huge cheers can be heard from the crowd as they catch sight of the beautiful Alexander McQueen dress for the first time.

The newlyweds leave the Abbey and head off to Buckingham Palace, greeting the crowds along the route.

Prince William and Catherine Middleton

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the centre with attendants, (clockwise from bottom right) The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Miss Eliza Lopes, Miss Grace van Cutsem, Lady Louise Windsor, Master Tom Pettifer, Master William Lowther-Pinkerton. Taken in the Throne Room. Photograph : Hugo Burnand

The Official Royal Wedding Programme is available to download for free from the Official Royal Wedding website.

Two paperbacks, including Angelina Ballerina, will be or are already on sale :

The Royal Wedding: The Official Westminster Abbey Souvenir

The Royal Wedding: The Official Westminster Abbey Souvenir (Paperback)

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Angelina and the Royal Wedding (Angelina Ballerina)

Angelina and the Royal Wedding (Angelina Ballerina) (Paperback)

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I love that so many people around the country will be enjoying street parties today and celebrating a slice of history.


If you are planning one, or planning to pop in to your neighbours party, you will need cupcakes.  No argument.  Here’s what you need to do – it’s really easy and doesn’t take a second. If you have a Kindle, you can download Jenny Colgan’s new book, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, or you can order the snail mail version if you prefer the smell of a good book.  Colgan has made an amusing video with heavenly cupcakes in the background, explaining her reasons for writing about cupcakes. You need a reason ? Within the book you will find lots of very funny recipes, which all work, and a piece about how to make your first Royal cupcakes written by The Caked Crusader. As Jenny says, it really is a lovely warm book to curl up with.

That quiet spot in the dappled shade of the apple blossom tree at the bottom of the garden with those lovely big squishy cushions lying underneath looks ideal after the noise and bustle of the Mall ….

Meet Me At The Cupcake Café (Paperback)

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or the Kindle version :

Meet Me At The Cupcake Café (Kindle Edition)

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Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

There isn’t anything that goes better with a cupcake than a great cup of tea.  I’ve done extensive research. Launched to celebrate Tea Palace’s 5th birthday, the new Royal London Blend is a blend of the finest single estate black teas which can be enjoyed at any time of the day.  It is presented in a bespoke embossed royal blue caddy with an inner lid, reminiscent of antique caddies. It’s £12.95 from Tea Palace.

bright blue tea caddy sitting on a Union Jack flag

Have a wonderful celebration and three cheers for Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Catherine Middleton (now Duchess of Cambridge) Hip Hip…

a group of dancers peeping through a bridal rose arch

A Wedding Bouquet centre : Alina Cojocaru & Johan Kobborg as the Bride and Groom, bottom l : Tamara Rojo, Federico Bonelli, Bethany Keating, Zenaida Yanowsky, Natasha Oughtred, Ricardo Cervera & Iohna Loots (as Pepe the dog)

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7 Responses to 6 things you don’t know about Royal ballet weddings

  1. Debby Pucci April 29, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    What a fun post. I was drawn right in. I am so excited to watch in the early morning. I knew a few of these things. I’ve been watching every possible show on TLC & BBC to get up to date information.
    I loved Princess Diana. I am actually making my first trip to Europe this June. I can’t wait to buy some treasures and take pictures of the famous buildings. I will be in London for 4 nights. I will also be going to Paris for a week. I will be gone for 21 days.

  2. Lucy April 29, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    What a fantastic post! Thanks for all the wonderful information and for the festive mood:) I will be glued watching this grand event. (and I do have cupcakes!!)

  3. Audrey Allure April 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Very interesting post!

  4. lori vliegen April 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    i loved reading all of these tidbits…….these are definitely exciting times!! and what a fabulous reason to go out and treat myself to cupcakes…..LOVE that!! many congrats to the handsome royal couple! xo

  5. Eddie April 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Great article, as usual. Sorry to nitpick a bit, but the 1832 La Sylphide was choreographed by Filippo Taglioni for Marie; that choreography hasn’t survived intact, but Paris Opera Ballet does a ‘reconstructed’ version. Bournonville’s version dates from 1836 and the role of the Sylph was originated by Lucille Grahn (of ‘Grand Pas de Quatre’ fame).

  6. Ballet News April 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Eddie – thank you for your comment. Just to clarify, I was referring to La Sylphide as the earliest example of it’s genre, not specifically about the choreography. Indeed, F Taglioni choreographed the first version but it’s August Bournonville’s 1836 version which survives in terms of choreography. Bournonville’s version has a different composer – Levenskjold.

  7. Ballet News April 29, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Debby – thank you so much!

    Lucy – sounds like you have the right idea!

    Audrey & Lori – thank you both!