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What will happen to Meghan Markle's bouquet after wedding?

The wedding bouquet of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, lies on the grave of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey on April 30, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The wedding bouquet of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, lies on the grave of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey on April 30, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

I think it's fair to say most brides like to hold onto their wedding bouquet, or at least part of it, after the big day is over, but in the British royal family, there's another protocol.

After the wedding between Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth, and the Duke of York, who was later known as King George VI, the wedding bouquet was left at the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.

Lady Elizabeth, whom we all came to know in 1952 as Queen Mother, left the bouquet in memory of her brother, Fergus, a young officer who was killed on the Western Front in 1915, during World War I.

What is the grave of the Unknown Warrior?

So, it all started when a man, the Rev. David Railton, who was serving as a chaplain during the war, noticed a grave in a garden in Armentieres. This was 1916, for reference. But sitting in the garden was a handmade cross with the words "An unknown British soldier" penciled in. The then-dean of Westminster, Herbert Ryle, got a letter from Railton four years later, suggesting those killed in the war -- and whose bodies were never found -- should be remembered.

Great idea, right? The dean must have thought so, too, because that same year, the bodies of four unknown British servicemen were exhumed from four different battlegrounds before being taken to a chapel at St. Pol on Nov. 7, 1920. The general officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier Gen. L.J. Wyatt, and Col. Gell, went into the chapel alone and hand-picked one of those officers before placing him in a plain coffin and sealing it. The other bodies were reburied.

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The soldier's coffin was taken by train to Victoria Station in London, where, on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses, it began its journey down crowd-lined streets to the Nave at Westminster Abbey.

The body was buried on Nov. 11, 1920, with -- get this -- soil from France that King George V himself was sprinkling over the coffin as it was being lowered into the ground. Then, the grave was filled with 100 sandbags of earth from WWI battlefields.

A year later, the grave was covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur, with an inscription Ryle had composed.

In the week after being laid to rest, it is said that more than 1.2 million people visited that unknown warrior's grave. Did you know that today it is still one of the most visited grave sites in the world?

Since Lady Elizabeth put her wedding bouquet on the grave in 1923 as a mark of respect, so have all royal brides married in the Abbey since, including, most recently, the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine "Kate" Middleton.

Although Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to marry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor, it is expected that Markle will send her bouquet to the grave of the Unknown Warrior, just as Sophie Rhys-Jones, who married Prince Edward at St. George's Chapel in 1999, did.


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