The worst wedding ever

17 May

There are times when a story seems so fantastical as to be untrue, especially as no official records survive of the events, but because writers and biographers often repeat that story within a few years of the event, it’s hard to dismiss altogether.

One such story is the marriage of Prince Amadeo of Savoy to Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo on 30th May 1867.

King Victor Emmanuel, big fan of the handlebar moustache

To begin with, the prince’s father, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, was against the marriage as he deemed Maria to be from a low rank family, but he was finally persuaded to allow the wedding to go ahead (possibly because of the financial wealth the bride brought with her), and threw a lavish wedding day for the couple.

Trouble started before the wedding, when the Maria’s wardrobe mistress hanged herself instead of the wedding gown.  Feeling superstitious, the bride ordered a new gown for the wedding.

As the wedding procession travelled from the palace to the church, the Colonel who was to lead it fell from his horse, suffering from sunstroke.

A new officer was found and the procession got under way only to be stopped at the palace gates, which were shut.  A quick search yielded the body of the gatekeeper in a large pool of blood, some said he killed himself by slitting his own throat.

A picture of the happy couple

The show must go on though, the gate was finally opened and the procession proceeded to the church, where the ceremony was completed without further mishaps.  Perhaps the run of bad luck was over?

Not by a long shot, which is what happened to the best man as they all exited the church, when he started checking his ceremonial pistol, discharging it and wounding himself in the head.

By now the couple decided it might be a good idea to get away and the procession moved to the railway station, where a special train was to take them away on their honeymoon.

However, on the way the official who drew up the marriage contract collapsed from a stroke, and when the wedding party arrived at the station, the stationmaster slipped and fell under the train, yet another fatality of the wedding.

By now King Victor had enough and ordered the party to return to the safety of the palace, they all got in their carriages and made their way back, flanked by mounted officers.

The final incident happened when one of the officers, the Count of Castiglione, fell from his horse and under the wheel of one of the carriages.  He may have survived the accident were it not for a splendid medal on his uniform, which was crushed into his chest, killing him.

Perhaps this inauspicious start was a sign of things to come.  In 1870 Amadeo was made King of Spain and his wife queen, but in less than three years his court was in a mess and he abdicated, declaring that the Spanish people ungovernable.

The couple returned to Italy, where they lived as the Duke and Duchess of Aosta.  In 1873, aged 29, Maria died just days after giving birth to their third son.  Amadeo married his niece in 1888 and died two years later, the final casualty of a doomed wedding.

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Posted by on Thursday 17th May 2012 in History, People


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