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Resting After the Royal Wedding: How the British Monarchs Have Slept Through the Ages

Resting After the Royal Wedding: How the British Monarchs Have Slept Through the Ages

Much like that celebrated day in May 2018, our and many other nations are enthralled by the event of the year; the Royal Wedding. It’s an event that celebrates the British spirit in a style akin to a modest Disney movie conclusion, and as everybody loves a wedding the same logic dictates that everybody must really love a huge wedding.

Of course, as much as we the people enjoy the spectacle, it’s the couple in question that’s sure to enjoy the occasion the most. Seven years ago, it was Prince William and Catherine Middleton. More recently, it was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, adding an extra ‘celebrity’ element to the entire shindig.

Still, Royal Weddings have always been lavished in the past so Harry & Meghan’s wedding shouldn’t be considered too rich, as far as these events go. However, unlike the times of old, it’s only the wedding that’s open to the public. The kings and queens from centuries past seldom had any privacy, even on the night of the wedding.

It was this shocking occurrence, more so by how common it was, that piqued our interest here at Happy Beds. When it comes to beds and sleeping arrangements, we’re always curious, so I started looking into the weird and wonderful royal sleeping arrangements of years past.

After all, we’ve all heard about the tale of The Princess and The Pea but as the old saying goes, ‘sometimes life can be stranger than fiction’.


The Different Cultures: What a Bed Can Mean to You or Your Country

Starting on a light note, it’s humorous to think now how dedicated some used to be to make their guest rooms fit for a king.

You know how some people have household possessions like fancy towels or China that they’ll state are only for truly special occasions? Kind of like how Monica in Friends said they were reserved exclusively for ‘The Queen of England’? Well in the 18th century, nobles often planned for monarchs seriously.

In 1778, the nobles of Wilton House decided to craft an especially luxurious bed in their home, just in case George III stayed the night. It was an incredibly elaborate state bed and truly was deserving of royalty. However, when George III arrived he had already brought his own portable bed, which hilariously was set up right next to the state bed that had been built for him.

mary of modena

Mary of Modena and James Francis Edward Stuart
A somewhat more serious way in which culture has come into the equation with royal beds is the curious case of Mary of Modena. The second wife of James II, Mary of Modena was a Catholic while the country was under pressure to turn to a Protestant regime, so when she gave birth to James Francis Edward Stuart many were concerned that this lineage would continue the Catholic regime.

During the birth, the royal bed came into the spotlight as, for reasons that must extend beyond hygiene, royalty was always expected to give birth within a special state birthing bed.

When Mary of Modena gave birth there were rumours that the boy was not James II’s legitimate son. These claims would already be groundless enough, as there were many, many witnesses being present for the baby’s birth, but the Protestants claimed that James Francis Edward Stuart was actually a changeling that had been smuggled into the bed chamber via a warming pan.


The Different Settings: From Public Forums to Private Chambers


Queen Mary's Bed
As moronic as these kinds of lies were, they were enough for James II’s daughter, Mary II, to overthrow her father with her Protestant Dutch husband William of Orange, or William III. This was known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’, for reasons that were surely apparent at the time. Either way, this entire tale started on a bed, which makes it a bizarre setting from which to start a ‘revolution’.

That was based at the end of the 17th century, which explains the unusual superstitions, though there are more unusual bed and bedroom based pieces of trivia that extend into the next few centuries. For example, in the days of Edward VIII there were precursory rooms one needed to navigate to reach the state bed.

Leading up to the bed chamber was a series of different rooms, each serving as a kind of social checkpoint. The access one had to these rooms was dictated by the royal favour and privilege they possessed, whether they were courtiers or statesmen. This unusual funnelling method would be akin to inviting friends to your house, allowing any guests they brought with them to stay in the foyer, acquaintances to enter the living room and only the closest of your friends to come into the kitchen.

Within this hallowed bedroom would be a grand sized bed that, oddly, would not serve as the king and queen’s actual bed. In fact, the king and the queen often had their own separate bedrooms, and this bed would only be used for official royal business.

This could include everything from the likes of public rituals such as ‘levee’, which was essentially an open audience with the monarch, to what we’d consider immensely private affairs like consummating a marriage.


The Different Times: How Views and Attitudes Have Changed

That’s right, the actual consummation would be witnessed because you have to make sure that the marriage has been made valid; and if God can watch it why can’t the king’s trusted court of advisers watch it too? Luckily at some point in history, this practice was thankfully phased out, much like how courtship with an entire family in the room was.


(Queen Victoria's bedroom. Source: The Lothians)
Proof of the desire for privacy comes from the days of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as he invented something of a marital aid for the bedroom. No, it isn’t a piece of jewellery that may first spring to mind, as Prince Albert invented a means to lock the door of the bedroom from the bed, for added privacy.

On a delightful final note, the newly married Queen Victoria described her wedding night in fairly thorough detail within her diary. She didn’t describe anything in too graphic detail, but she did describe the night with her new husband Prince Albert as “both gratifying and bewildering”.


Dream of Sleeping Peacefully Like a Royal?

This was just a quick glance across royal beds across the history of the monarchy. Do you know of any stranger facts? How excited are you for the Royal Wedding? Tweet us, find us on Facebook and tag us on Instagram with your thoughts!

Alternatively, if you're in need of a royally good night's sleep, why not design your own bed?

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