THE ROYAL WEDDING AT ATHENS.
Probably never since the days of Alcibiades and his contemporaries has Athens been so gay as it was during the. last week in October. Indeed, all things considered, it seems very doubtful if the glories of ancient Greece, in its palmiest days, were ever half so brilliant as the celebrations that have "just taken place ; and how astonished these Hellenic worthies of olden time would have been at the nationalities that have come to the fore, and whose sovereigns, and princes took part in the pageants, of this wedding ! Shade of Socrates, were you looking on and moralising when the streets of Athens rang with modern applause 1 Spirit of Plato, did you gaze approval out of your Hadean shadows at the brave princes and goodly princesses, whose gallant bearing promises so well for the realisation of many of your dreams 7 The landing of the bride and her mother at the Pirgeus was a particularly bright and joyous scene. The King of the Hellenes and bis son, the bridegroom-elect, went. down to Corinth to meet their guests; and when they returned in the Greek man-of T war Admiral Miaulis, at 3 in the afternoon, Queen Olga and the entire party of royalty, both home and foreign, were waiting for their arrival. The family greetings alone were something stupendous, and genuinely affecting, to behold; the Prince, of Wales stepped forward- to, meet his sister with hearty cordiality, and the bevy of cousins clustered round, the bride in. eager welcome. Then came the official greetings, . the Mayor of Athens, with a speech, in Greek, and a bouquet about the size : of a cart wheel for the bride from the Municipality, the girls from all the schools of the city, .dressed in white, throwing flowers at Princess Sophie's feet,, the crowds startled out of their usual Grecian stolidity, and shouting vociferous welcomes as the Imperial ladies moved towards the carriages. The streets of course were gay with triumphal arches, flags, and flowers were^ to seen everywhere, and the weather was bright and wa,rm, far different to the autumnal days of the cloudy north. At length the cortege was got into due order. The Empress Frederick sat beside her daughter, the bride elect, and the King of the Hellenes and his sons rode alongside of this carriage as an escort. There was a suspicion of tears in good Vicky's eyes, but her smiles and bows were distributed right and left with charming cordiality, and as for the bride, she looked radiant and really almost pretty, her face was ,
so lit up with pleasure at the enthusiastic welcome she received. • The bride and bridegroom elect arrived at half-past 10 on Sunday morning, accompanied by their relatives at the Athens Cathedral, where an immense throng of princes, dignitaries, and officials awaited to greet th\em: After the procession had passed up the ' aisle' to the altar, the impressive ceremony, lasting for quite three' hours, was gone through, the Metropolitan being the celebrant. : The galleries in the cathedral were crowded with Athenian ladies in bright dresses. The Ladies of Honour of the Greek Court were ranged near the altar in national dresses of white and gold silk, with strings of gold coins hanging, according to the custom of the country, around their foreheads. The King of the Hellenes came first', accompanied by 'the Empress Frederick; next came the Emperor of Germany in the white uniform qf ; tb.e' Prussian Body Guards, walking with the. Queen of the Hellenes; the King of Denmark and the Empress of Germany came next;. the Prince' of Wales followed in the uniform of< an English Field-Marshal, with the Queen of Denmark' on his arm ; then came Prince Henry of Prussia with -the Princess of Wales ; Prince Albert Victor, in the uniform of the 9th Lancers, came next with- the Princess Victoria of Prussia, followed by the Czarewitch with the Princess of Saxe-Meiningen next. After these came the royal bride and bridegroom, the bride being attired in a rich robe, with a train of white satin carried by three ladies, and wealing orange blossoms in her hair. The bridegroom was in the Greek military uniforn, with the Ribbon of the Order of the Holy Saviour. The responses and the "Te Deums" were sung by male voices in the gallery in accordance with the law of the Greek Church, which does not permit a woman's voice to be heard in the church. Wine was handed in a golden goblet to the bride and bridegroom by. the Metropolitan. Rings wereexchanged.andthen followed the long ceremony of exchanging coronets. During half an hour the coronet of the bride wa& upheld over her head alternately by Prince Henry of Prussia, Prince Albert Victor, and Prince Gecrge of Wales, who severally advanced to the altar for this service. The coronet of the Duke of Sparta was upheld alternately by the Czarewitch, Prince Waldemar, and Prince George of Greece. After the marriage ceremony the bride and bridegroom and the wedding party left the cathedral for the palace, where a dejeuner awaited them, and later on the Duke of Sparta took his bride home to his own palace. - " ,■ The grand state coach which conveyed the young couple to the church has a remarkably history, It was originally ordered by the late Oomte de Chambord, as the vehicle of his triumphal return to Paris, at the time when he really thought it was coming off. However, the event did not come off, and so the carriage — a heavy, gilded affair — remained carefully warehoused in Paris, and covered with silver paper to prevent tarnishing until his death, .when it was sold. This relic of the old French monarchy was ao quired by the King of Greece for 26,000fr. I The shoddy monarchy of Greece, in fact, i like a ishoddy millionaire, bought .up the relic of the magnificent and terrible old ; French despotism, no doubt in the hope of investing itself with some of the glories of antiquity, j and with precisely the same result that attends the shoddy millionaire's efforts to acquire ancestors " by purchase." i Tne Emperor William has of himself initiated an example in his family which the Queen has also initiated in hers, with the important, difference, that the Emperor as an autocratic sovereign has done what seemed right in his,. eyes of his own free will, whereas the Queen only adopted the same principle after considerable pressure had been put. upon. her. In short, the dowry of the Princess Sophie of Prussia, amounting to 2,000,000 marks — that is to say, not quite £100,000 of our money— has been paid out of the family funds of theHohenzollerns, and not out of the Imperial Exchequer. It is very much to the Emperor's credit that he has recognised the fact that the marriage of the sovereign's sister to a foreign prince is really of no importance to the nation, and, therefore, it is absurd and unjust that the taxpayers should be called upon to provide the dowry. On the whole, in this matter, the young' Emperor has shown more sense than many older people. The Empress Frederick, though she gave in to her son's imperious wishes about the trousseaux of his sister being manufactured .in Germany, carried her own point as to its* being a genuine English outfit all the same ; for she gave patterns of her own, selected all the designs and trimmings, in person, and issued strict orders that everything was to be made according to her directions. So all, even to the details of the underlinen, is according to British modes, and the bride may congratulate herself on the possession of a remarkably tasteful and handsome equipment. - r One of the choicest items of the underlinen department is the dainty set of nightdresses. Some of these are of the finest cambric, trimmed with lace frillings; and others are of silk beautifully embroidered. The embroidery is generally shown up by a lining of pale pink or sky blue batiste. The ■ drawers are also of silk or cambric, trimmed with these embroideries, which, of course, were all done by hand, and are most perfectly executed, though the design is simple. The Empress Frederick, by the way, drew most of the patterns for the embroideries herself. There is, of course, a fine assortment of table linen, sheets, &c, following the German custom that the bride shall supply all the house linen in her corbdlU. The tablecloths, &c, are in sets of six, with small patterns, and of the finest damask that is woven. They, like the underclothes^ are all marked with an embroidered S and crown. , The sheets and so forth are copied from English models. % Nor are the upper vestments at all inferior to this imposing array of linen. Princess Sophie's mantles would make quite an exhibition of handsome garments by themselves. Perhaps the gem of the collection is a carnage wrap, made in the shape of the Russian Rotonde ; it is formed, of olive-coloured.angora, richly embroidered in gold. /Then there is a long promenade cloak, the back shaped like a dolman, and the
front like an overcoat, of , Btusian plush, with its hanging sleeves ornamented with black embroidery, and a collar and trimmings of curly astrakan. There is a gala mantle in white velvet, with gold arabesque embroideries and pale olivecoloured hanging sleeves with gold, fringes. A round travelling cloak of dark green fancy broche is combined with shades of terracotta, and trimmed witK dark sable. * These are not all the dazzling collection either; there is a dolman of black velvet, fringed and embroidered ; a dolman of brocaded silk, a la Pompadour and half length, with green velvet sleeves arid an elaborate feather trimming ; and a nice, plain, long f paletot . of beige-coloured woollen fabric, with : a seal* skin collar, for everyday wear in cold weather. For visits, there are the shorter mantles called visites, in all sorts of styles and hues; one of royal blue', silk, with Greek embroideries at the border; and another of pale grey plush, with silver embroidery. , of the "lour-in-hand" shape, and.lined with Asiatic fur. All these have day dresses to correspond with or match them ; and dainty little hats or bonnets, either en- siiite,[oi in the most enchanting contrasts of colour. .* "Princess Sophie has also some' very pretty mantles for evening wear; one o£ these is a pale yellow, with gold- and" silver embrodiery and fringes, aud is lined with orange satin. Another is completelyjcovered with Louis XV embroidery*in mixed, steel and silver, the groundwork being of Victoria silk. There is also, a white faille sortie de bal with myrtle trimming, arid a fringe of wax pearls, this will probably be used at any bridal fStes at which the young Duchess o£ Sparta appears just now. Sophie's own wedding gift to her bridegroom is a silver tea service, entirely of silver, and composed of a kettle, teapot, spirit lamp, milk jug, sugar basin, and two trays.^ The young Princess took an immense pride in ordering and choosing this gift, for there can be no doubt that the match is entirely one of affection between the pair. King Humbert did the handsome thing, and sent a valuable parure of diamonds to the bride, by the hands of her brother, the Kaiser; the jewels are, of course, of Italian workmanship, and are yery artistically set. One of the finest of the bridal presents is that sent by the Greek merchants in London, which is a most magnificent set of gold dessert plate of the very finest quality, and every whit equal to the best gold plate that our Queen possesses among her numerous treasures of this character. The plates and dishes- are most' exquisitely chased, and adorned with the monogram of the young couple. The dishes' are lined with crimson glass, which produces » very sxqujsite efl&ct, The whole is enclosed in a magnifioent rosewood cabinet lined with crimson .silk, and ornamented outside with gold handles and little raised gold plates on which the monogram is repeated. The knives' and forks are in a cabinet by themselves, which is also made of rosewood and lined with crimson silk, while everyone of them bears on the handle the bridal monogram. The whole is a present worthy of a royal wedding. " ' • Bufc the' young bride has received one wedding gift that has. pleased her more than any of the gems and other pretty things intended for her personal use and wear. A certain Signor Mavrokordato has presented the Duke of Sparta with £4000 to be invested in order to give dowries to a certain number of female orphans from the Athens "'Orphan Asylum every year. Princess Sophie, who is her mother's and father's daughter all over, is greatly delighted with being, thus made a good fairy to some deserving Greek maidens every year, and being enabled to' portion them for their bridal. ;