5 Royal Wedding Westminster Abbey Facts

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The April 29, 2011, wedding of Prince William and Kate was a thoroughly modern affair. Kate Middleton arrived via car, not stuffy carriage. William and Kate’s streamlined, modern style has been duly noted and praised. But Westminster Abbey is steeped in royal tradition and ancient rites. Here are five facts you may not know about the site of the royal wedding.

Westminster Abbey is the Royal Church

Consecrated in 1065 and rebuilt in 1245, Westminster Abbey has been dubbed “the Royal church.” All British royal coronations since 1066 have been held at Westminster Abbey, and many British kings and queens are buried within the Abbey. It has been the site of 15 royal weddings, although it was overlooked for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding because it was deemed too small.

The famous coronation chair, dating to 1297, is securely housed in the Abbey. It didn’t play a role in the royal wedding, however – that will need to wait until Prince William’s father, Prince Charles, is crowned King one day.

Kate Will Enter Through the Great West Doors

Kate Middleton entered Westminster Abbey though its main entrance, the Great West Doors (seen in the photo above). In contrast to the age of most everything in the Abbey, Kate passed beneath statues of Martin Luther King and other twentieth century martyrs as she entered the cathedral.

Kate’s Procession Trivia

Once she entered Westminster Abbey, Kate walked over the memorial to Winston Churchill. Churchill reportedly declined to be buried in the Abbey, saying “no one walked over me in life, and they’re not going to after death.”

She deviated a bit from a straight line at that point, because The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a black marble stone surrounded by poppies, lies in the center of the aisle. This memorial to unidentified soldiers killed in war is considered too sacred to be stepped on, even by a royal.

 Westminster Abbey Boasts Lofty Company

Prince William and Kate were in lofty company during their wedding. A small sampling of the folks buried at Westminster Abbey includes

  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • Poet Ben Jonson (who is buried upright at his request; his name is incorrectly spelled “Johnson” on the tomb)
  • Lord Tennyson
  • William Wilberforce
  • Henry Purcell
  • Isaac Newton

Kate Becomes Catherine

Westminster Abbey marked the spot where Kate Middleton became Catherine Windsor. Kate requested to be called “Catherine,” her given name, during the wedding ceremony.

Did you watch William and Kate’s wedding? How about Charles and Diana’s?

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Kate Middleton biography (aff. link)

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5 thoughts on “5 Royal Wedding Westminster Abbey Facts

  1. I watched William and Kate’s wedding. I did not watch Charles and Diana’s ceremony, since I was in Africa at the time. I did, however, watch Diana’s funeral, which was one of the saddest things I ever saw on TV, in my opinion.

  2. Yes, I watched Charles & Diane’s and William and Kate’s weddings. So elegant and tasteful. And I also thought that Diana’s funeral was so sad. Princes William and Harry looked so distraught and my heart went out to them. I was surprised to read that there is a statue of Martin Luther King in Westminster Abbey. I am happy to know that but I assumed there would be statues only of those from the United Kingdom.

  3. Westminster Abbey is certainly laced with history! William and Kate made a wonderful choice in deciding to hold their wedding there.

  4. I, of course, watched both weddings, and Diana’s funeral too. I agree that the funeral was extremely sad. I recorded it, but have never been able to bring myself to watch it again. For William and Kate’s wedding, I loved the way they brought all the trees into the abbey. Gave it a nice touch of nature.

  5. Fortunately, I have visited Westminster Abbey a total of 4 times, and I have always been in awe of all of its history! The tombs/crypts of the famous people buried there is quite interesting. I remember the Saint Nicholas one in particular, because of the red “Santa Claus” type configuration on top. The Poet’s corner fascinated me also. I did see the Coronation chair where the present Queen Elizabeth was sworn in. I watched William and Kate’s wedding in its entirety, and I agree with Susan about the trees being a nice touch along the aisle where the wedding party marched in. It was such a beautiful wedding!
    While I have also visited St. Paul’s Cathedral a couple of times where Charles and Diana were married was held, that church does not hold the same awe for me as Westminster Abbey. However, I really liked the American Chapel there.

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