Lavish Royal Honeymoons Over The YearsPublished on May 10, 2018. Updated May 13, 2020
The Royals are used to being in the spotlight with every move they make and every public outing they attend being heavily publicized and, while Royal weddings are turned into the most extravagant events, like all couples they aim for privacy as they retreat to their honeymoons. Over the many years of Royal weddings across Europe, things have changed when it comes to weddings, royal traditions, and honeymoons, but there is never any doubt that they are always luxurious and lavish. Check out what couples went all out for the most lavish of getaways and how Royal honeymoons have changed over the years:
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17. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Queen Victoria was never one to do what is expected and resisted being forced into marriage by her mother before she fell for Prince Albert. It was Queen Victoria who proposed marriage to him in October 1839 and then, on February 10, 1840, the two were married in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace. Following their wedding day, Victoria gushed about her new husband in her diary, and they didn’t need an exotic getaway to celebrate their union. Due to Victoria’s demanding duties, she had to stay at Windsor Castle, but they spent three days celebrating their honeymoon even though they didn’t travel anywhere and, during those three days, Queen Victoria threw many impromptu balls which were considered inappropriate by the aristocracy. Despite only getting three days to enjoy her new marriage, she later described the small “break” as “most gratifying.”
16. King George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Although the monarchy may seem more progressive now than ever with Prince Harry marrying American actress Meghan Markle, back in 1923, King George VI raised eyebrows when he married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who was not of royal birth, and he was not deterred when he proposed not once but three times before she finally accepted. The pair were married on April 26, 1923, at Westminster Abbey where Elizabeth began the tradition of royal brides placing their bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. For their honeymoon, the newlyweds spent a few weeks at Polesden Lacey in Surrey, a country manor house where they spent time playing golf and tennis and taking long walks. They then spent a couple more weeks at Elizabeth’s family home, Glamis Castle in Scotland, to complete their five-week honeymoon. Unfortunately, the poor weather caused Elizabeth to become sick with whooping cough, which did little for their honeymoon as she described it as “not a very romantic disease.”
15. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Despite some initial controversy surrounding their engagement, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Mountbatten were married on November 20, 1947. While TV broadcasted Royal weddings weren’t happening just yet, the wedding was broadcast by BBC Radio to around 200 million listeners. The couple also had a two-part honeymoon as they first spent some time in Broadlands, which was where the Mountbatten’s Hampshire country house was. They then spent a few days at Birkhall Lodge which was Queen Elizabeth’s childhood country home in Scotland, spending their days hunting and taking walks through the countryside. In addition to their countryside getaway, the two took a more exotic vacation to the Mediterranean aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.
14. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco
Long before Prince Harry became engaged to an American actress, Prince Rainier III of Monaco was sweeping Oscar-winning American actress Grace Kelly off her feet. They were married on April 18, 1956, in a civil ceremony at the Palace Throne Room in Monaco and the next day were married in a religious ceremony at Monaco’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral. After the “incredible affair” that was their wedding, the pair boarded the Deo Juvante II for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise. Before they could sail off to their Galapagos Islands getaway, however, the two were so exhausted they simply anchored the boat not far from shore to get a good night’s sleep after the extravagant wedding. “It was so exhausting,” their son Prince Albert explained, “they both said that when they left on their honeymoon and got on the boat, they both just kind of passed out from exhaustion and had a good night’s sleep before they got on with enjoying their honeymoon the next day.” Once underway, the pair enjoyed the 147-foot yacht that was gifted to them by Greek shipping boss Aristotle Onassis as they sailed the beautiful islands.
13. Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
Queen Elizabeth II’s only sibling, Princess Margaret, wed Antony-Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960, and the pair became the Countess and Earl of Snowdon. The wedding was held at Westminster Abbey and set the stage for many Royal weddings to come as it was the first Royal wedding to be broadcast on TV with more than 200 million viewers tuning in. Following their wedding, the two embarked on an incredible six-week honeymoon aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia through the West Indies and the Caribbean, visiting islands such as Trinidad, Antiqua and Mustique. Even though they were on their honeymoon and aboard a boat, everything was still royally extravagant which meant there were full formal dinners. “At dinner, she wore a long dress every night, with jewels and a tiara; he put on a dinner jacket,” the Daily Mail reported. Meanwhile, their days were filled with beach trips and picnic lunches: “Each morning sailors from Britannia would go to the chosen beach, set up a tent for shade and lay out a picnic lunch and drinks before departing to leave the couple entirely alone.” By the ’70s, the Snowdon’s marriage had broken down and in 1978 they were officially divorced, marking the first divorce of a senior member of the British royal family since Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh’s in 1901.
12. Princess Anne and Mark Phillips
On November 14, 1973, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s only daughter, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey in another televised ceremony that had an estimated 100 million viewers. Like so many others, the two stuck to tradition and took a cruise on the Royal Yacht Britannia for a trip over to Barbados, and rumor has it they boarded the yacht to the tune of the ‘Love Story’ theme song. Despite their private yacht and beautiful destinations, the honeymoon was nearly ruined by storms and sea sickness, but eventually the problems subsided and they ended their trip in the Galapagos Islands. By 1989, the pair admitted their marriage was strained and on April 23, 1992 they were divorced.
11. Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Despite their marriage not lasting and Princess Diana’s tragic death, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were one of the most iconic Royal couples in recent history. On July 29, 1981, the pair were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral as it offered more seating than Westminster Abbey. More than 750 million tuned into the televised event and more than 600,000 spectators lined the streets. Beating out the multi-week royal honeymoons that had come before, Princess Diana and Prince Charles began their three-month honeymoon in Balmoral Castle, a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Following their countryside getaway, they took a 12-day cruise on the Royal Yacht Britannia through the Greek Islands to Egypt. It seems their honeymoon cruise was a lot more laidback than ones before it, as plans were made daily instead of set beforehand. It quickly became known that the honeymoon was anything other than romantic and intimate as Diana said it was a great opportunity to “catch up on sleep.”
10. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
The Duke and Duchess of York, Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson were married on July 23, 1986, at Westminster Abbey. Unlike so many other Royal couples before them, the two blazed their own honeymoon trail by instead taking off in a royal jet that had “Just Married” fastened to the back. The newlyweds jetted off to Terceira Island in the Azores for a gorgeous retreat but, of course, no Royal honeymoon is complete without a trip on the Royal Yacht Britannia. After their trip to the Azores, they took a five-day cruise around the Atlantic on the yacht where a Portuguese navy escort ship followed them around for discreet security and they visited islands so private they were only accessible by a rubber dinghy. After only a few years of marriage, the two announced their plans to divorce in 1992 and finalized the divorce on May 20, 1996.
9. Prince Edward and Sophie
On June 19, 1999, the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Prince Edward, married public relations executive Sophie Rhys-Jones and, afterward, they became the Earl and Countess of Wessex. After the wedding at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, there was a lot of speculation about where they would jet off to, leaving many disappointed when they chose the Queen’s Scottish retreat at Birkhall Lodge. While many expected the pair to only begin their honeymoon in Scotland before taking a more luxurious and exotic trip, it seems they were too busy to spend too much time away and merely spent the week in Scotland before resuming their lives in England.
8. Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly
Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, married Autumn Kelly on May 17, 2008, at St. George’s Chapel in a wedding shrouded in controversy because the couple had agreed to sell photos of their wedding to Hello! Magazine for 500,000 euros. The honeymoon that followed kept the drama coming as the two chose Tuningi, a five-star South African safari lodge, for their destination but reportedly did so because they were offered a discounted rate in exchange for pictures to be taken of them and their visit to be promoted by the lodge. A press release from the lodge for their honeymoon read: “the five-star lodge ensured their first African safari together was filled with romantic touches, organizing dinner a deux under the stars, breakfast out in the bush and a private safari guide to maximize enjoyment and guarantee unique memories.” While the Royal family never made a statement about the deals made with the lodge and the magazine, reports flew that they were “furious,” and “they thought it was downmarket and tacky. A lot of noses were put well and truly out of joint.”
7. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles, with whom he had an affair before and during his relationship and marriage to Diana, was one of the most contested Royal weddings. Regardless, they wed in a civil wedding at Windsor Guildhall on April 9, 2009, which was not attended by the Queen or Prince Philip, although they did attend the blessing held at Windsor Castle afterward. In tradition, they spent the first part of their honeymoon at Birkhall at the Balmoral estate in Scotland. For the second part of their honeymoon, however, they traded in the countryside for sunshine and blue seas as they toured around the Greek Islands on a yacht owned by billionaire tycoon Spiros Latsis.
6. Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling
Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Västergötland made waves when she married Daniel Westling, whom she had met when he was her personal trainer. The wedding took place on June 19, 201,0 at Stockholm Cathedral and was attended by more than 1,200 guests. Following the lavish nuptials, the two took off to Tahiti where they reportedly spent ten days on a yacht before visiting America and Brazil as well. While the pair didn’t speak much about their romantic trip, they did call it “a dream come true.”
5. Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s April 29, 2011 wedding in Westminster Abbey was one of the biggest events of the decade with between 300 million to two billion people tuning in worldwide. After the wedding, the pair opted for somewhere different for their honeymoon when they decided to spend ten days in the Seychelles. The island is so private, guests can only arrive and leave by helicopter, and the private villas cost $5,500-a-night. Some of the perks of the super-private retreat for the couple included a freshwater pool, a private garden, a personal chef, and even a butler.
4. Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall
Zara Phillips, the only daughter of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, married rugby player Mike Tindall on July 30, 2011, at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland. Due to their busy athletic schedules, the newlyweds had to wait three months before embarking on their honeymoon, but when they did, it was well worth it! The pair stayed at the five-star Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus overlooking the Pissouri Bay. Instead of going into a reclusive section, Zara and Mike were often seen out and about participating in the resort’s activities with other guests.
3. Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill
Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland met American financier Chris O’Neill after she had moved to New York City to work for the World Childhood Foundation. The pair were married on June 8, 2013, at the Royal Palace chapel in Stockholm after which O’Neill declined to be given a title. They took a page out of Will and Kate’s book when they decided to travel to Seychelles for their honeymoon vacation where they were said to stay in the same villa that the British royals did. As they wanted privacy for their honeymoon, the pair were very upset when tabloids published photos of them on the beach, causing them to release a message: “Sadly, the Swedish tabloid press have taken it upon themselves to destroy our privacy and place private photographs of us in their publications today. The one thing we wish is that, if only for these few days, our privacy can now be respected.”
2. Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Duke of Värmland was one of Europe’s most eligible bachelors before he fell in love with former model Sofia Hellqvist. Their royal wedding took place on June 13, 2015, in Stockholm’s Royal Palace chapel and only a few hours later began their 12-day honeymoon. Their first stop was Fiji where they visited the island-resort of Laucala owned by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. Rooms at the resort cost approximately $6,000 per night, and the couple loved it so much they wanted to stay even longer but had to return for the Prince’s racing schedule. “The honeymoon will last just 12 days – from the 13th to the 25th – when Carl Philip will drive a race,” Johanna Lejon, royals reporter at Svensk Damtidning, stated.
1. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Last but not least is a honeymoon that hasn’t even happened yet! Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle are set to wed on May 19, 2018, and have revealed their honeymoon plans are quite special to them. The two are planning to go to Namibia and stay at the luxurious Hoanib Valley Camp which is described as “a luxury $660 per person, per night camp that is surrounded by towering mountains, sand dunes and huge expanses of desert.” Although the Palace has not confirmed their honeymoon destination, it was announced they had to slightly postpone their plans. “The couple will be going on honeymoon, but not straightaway. They will have their first engagement as a married couple in the week after the wedding,” a statement read. Namibia is a neighboring nation to Botswana where the couple revealed they visited for five days together not long after their first date, and it was there they knew they were in love. “Then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other,” Prince Harry explained. “And we camped out with each other under the stars. We spent – she came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic.”
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