Hofdame Note: Thank you to our Baguette Elizabeth Davies for this mini-series preparing us for the coronation in May. Here is the first installment: The Queen Consorts at Coronations in the 20th Century; A Mini-series, Queen Alexandra and her Attendants 1902
When it came to being the Queen, Alexandra was definitely of the opinion that more is more, when it came to jewels and display. Her Coronation gown was of gold tissue had jewel encrusted ruffs at the shoulders; a diamond fringe encircling the waist, and the open skirt was caught at the front with a series of diamond bows and brooches, with cascades of diamonds between – and that was before she put her jewels on!
She donned multiple rows of pearls, semi-obscuring a large diamond and pearl stomacher and huge star brooch, then swathed further rivières of diamonds around her neck. She finished the look with stacked diamond and gold bracelets and, of course, her new crown!
You may be surprised that Queen Alexandra did not have Maids of Honour holding her train, but Pages. This is the most widely distributed picture, with six pages – the usual number of train bearers. But they were identified with eight names! I eventually realised she actually did have eight pages, but two had been airbrushed out of this picture – I have no idea why Lord Claud Hamilton and the Hon Arthur Anson disappeared from history, but here is the full set.
They wore court livery and their tunics would have been red, something like the picture below. The picture below is from 2019, when another Claud Hamilton, 3x great nephew of the Claud Hamilton at the Coronation, carried HM’s train at the state opening of Parliament.
Alexandra’s pages were all the teenaged sons of peers, or teenaged peers, except one. They were, from left to right:
George Byng, 9th Viscount Torrington (1886-1944). His father, the 8th Viscount, had been a Conservative politician but he sadly died at the age of 48, when young George was only 3 years old. Perhaps this lack of father was prejudicial to his later career – he gambled away his fortune on hose-racing, married a Gaiety girl who later divorced him for adultery and died mired in debt.
Lord Claud Hamilton, son of the 2nd Duke of Abercorn (1889-1975). He is a 3x great uncle of Prince William, as his niece Cynthia married into the Spencer family. Here is Cynthia at the 1953 Coronation.
George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Marquess of Stafford (1888-1963). He was the heir of the exotically named Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the 4th Duke of Sutherland. In due course George became the 5th Duke.
John Neville Bigge (1887-1915) The only untitled boy in the bunch. He was the son of Sir Arthur Bigge, who had been Private Secretary to Queen Victoria, and from 1902 to 1931 was Private Secretary to George, first Prince of Wales, later George V. Arthur was close to George. Apparently in 1917 he was influential in the King’s decision to change the name of the Royal House to Windsor. He is also the man who introduced King George VI to Lionel Logue, his speech therapist.
Arthur eventually became Baron Stamfordham, but sadly young John never succeeded him, as he was killed in action fighting in the first World War.
Hon Edward Lascelles, son of the 5th Earl of Harewood (1887-1935). A name that is familiar to royal aficionados, Edward was the younger brother of Henry Viscount Lascelles, who went on to marry Princess Mary. Although she was the daughter of a King, The Lascelles brothers where also descendants of kings, tracing their genealogy to Henry VII.
George Parker, 7th Earl of Macclesfield (1888-1975). His father had died aged 51, predeceasing his own father, so George had inherited this title from his grandfather in 1896, at the age of 8. George’s uncle, the Rev. Algernon Parker, was the great grandfather of Andrew Parker-Bowles, Camilla’s first husband!
Count the attendants at that wedding. I make it 16!
Hon Arthur Anson, son of the 3rd Earl of Lichfield (1887-1960). Another name that might ring a bell. Arthur’s nephew Thomas, Viscount Anson was the first husband of the Queen Mother’s sister Anne Bowes-Lyon, and father of event planner Lady Elizabeth Anson and Patrick Lichfield, society photographer.
Lady Anne went on to marry Prince Georg of Denmark, of course.
And last and also, I’m afraid, least, Hon H Palmer, whom sadly I have been unable to identify further. Please tell me if you can!