As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding approaches, UF News turned to the more than six million books, 1.5 million e-books and millions of pages of online resources at the University of Florida Libraries for some fascinating facts about royal weddings.
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding gifts included an ostrich-feather cape from South Africa, a necklace of 96 rubies from Burma and a thousand blankets from Uruguay for London’s poor. Mahatma Gandhi even sent her a shawl he had knitted himself.
2. Queen Victoria’s wedding cake weighed 300 pounds and measured 9 feet around.
3. The popularity of watching royal weddings on TV isn't new: More than 500 million people worldwide watched the wedding of Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne, in 1973.
4. When King Henry III’s sister Isabella married the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1235, the emperor gave the king three leopards from his private zoo. The cats went to live at the Tower of London, giving rise to the royal menagerie that persisted there for 600 years.
5. Broadcaster Audrey Russell covered Princess Margaret’s 1960 wedding from a “flying coffin” — her designated spot in Westminster Abbey was an open-sided scaffold teetering hundreds of feet above the crowd. She covered another royal wedding three years later from the same spot.
6. More than 70 countries from Barbados to Vanuatu issued postage stamps to commemorate the the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.
7. Already binged "The Crown" and want more young Elizabeth? UF students, faculty and staff can see clips from the original 1947 TV coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding and plenty more royal-wedding content through the UF Libraries’ access to the streaming service Kanopy.