Wedding of Countess Anastasia de Torby and Major-General Sir Harold Wernher

Event date

20th July 1917
Entity info.


Wernher wedding, July 1917

Major Harold Augustus Wernher, second son of the late Sir Julius Wernher, Bart., and of Lady Wernher of Luton Hoo, was married to the Countess Anastasia (Zia) de Torby, elder daughter of the Grand Duko Michael Michailovitch of Russia and of the Countess, de Torby. The wedding was attended by the King and Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and their Majesties were loudly cheered by a great crowd of spectators as they drove from Buckingham Palace.

The marriage was celebrated first at the Chapel of the Russian Embassy in Welbeck- street, in conformity with the rites of the Orthodox Russian Church, the faith of which the bride professes. On each side of the altar, flowers were arranged, and facing the Iconostasia was an arch of white rambler roses, beneath which the bridal couple plighted their troth. The musical part of the service was rendered by the members of the Russian male choir. Only a small congregation could be accommodated, and those present were the Grand Duchess George of Russia, relatives and intimate friends, distinguished Russion officers now in London, and the personnel of the Embassy. The Very Rev. Eugene Smirnoff. Priest to the Russian Embassy, officiated.


By permission of the King the marriage was subsequently solemnised according to the Anglican ritual at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. The altar, on which was diplayed the massive gold plate of the chapel, was decorated with white flowers and lilies, and on each side were towering cocos palms with foliage plants arranged round

The King and Queen and the members of the Royal family formed a procession as they entered the chapel. The Queen came first, dressed in a white embroidered gown, with a pearl necklace, and a white and pale blue hat, her Majesty being accompanied by Queen Alexandra, whose gown was black lace over white, worn with a torque of deep purple pansies. The King, in khaki. came with the Princess Royal, who was in black and white. Princess Marcy who came with Princess Victoria and Princess Maud, was in white, with a blue hat. The Duke of Connaught entered with the Princess Patricia, the latter dressed in white, with bands of black velvet, and a white satin hat swathed with black velvet.

Princess Beatrice was in amethyst, with a black hat; Princess Alice in cream lace, with a small black silk coat figured with roses, and a black hat; the Earl and Countess of Medina, the latter in white with black; the Grand Duchess George of Russia, in orchid mauve, with a pansy-coloured hat.

Their Majesties occupied seats on the right of the sanctuary, and on their right and left sat Queen Alexandra, Princess Mary. Princes. Victoria, the Princess Royal, and Princess Maud, while facing them on the other side of the altar were King Manuel, the Grand Duchess George of Russia, the Duke of Connaught and Princess Patricia, Princess Alice, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Marie Louise. On the right of the faldstools placed for the bride and bridegroom, on the haut pas facing the chancel, were Lady Wernher. the Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven, and lady Louise Mountbatten, and on the bride's side were the Countess de Torby, Count de Torby, and the Earl and Countess of Medina.

Seats were reserved in the pews and galleries for the following. The Italian Ambassador and the Marchioness lmperiali, the Spanish Ambassador and Madame Merry del Val, the United States Ambassador and Mrs. Page, the Swedish Minister and Countess Wrangel, M. Thierry, the Duchess of Beaufort and Lady Blanche and Lady Diana Somerset, the Duchess of Somerset, the Earl and Countess of Mar and Kellie, the Earl and Countess of Granard, the Countess of Derby, the Countess of Jersey, the Countess of Kilmorey, the Earl of Leicester, the Countess of Craven, Cora Countess of Stratford. the Earl of St. Germans, Lord and Lady Weardale, the Hon. Sir Sidney Greville, the Right Hon. H. H. Asquith and Mrs. and Miss Asquith, Sir John and Lady Jellicoe, Lady Robertson, the Hon. Rhoda Astley, the Earl and Countess of Chesterfield, Viscount and Viscountess Farquhar. Viscount and Viscountess Sandhurst, Mrs Bischoffsheim. Lady Dawson. Mrs. Brinton, Lady Ponsonby. the Countess of Londesborough, Viscountess Curzon. Lady and Miss de Trafford, the Hon. Sir Hedworth and the Hon. Lady Meux, Lady Helen Seymour. Lady Rosemary Leveson-Gower. the Dowager Countess Howe. Earl Howe. the Countess of Lanesborough, the Earl of Portarlington. the Earl of Drogheda. Viscountess French, Lady Burnham. the Dowager Lady Nunburnholme, Sir Francis Erskine, Col. Sneyd. Col. Fludyer. Lady Victoria Primrose, Count and Countess Costa, Mlle. Costa, Countess d'Elia, Col. Hall Walker, Sir Lionel and Lady Phillips. Lady (Arthur) Paget. Lord Charles Montagu, Lord Cecil Manners, Mr. and Mrs. Beit, the Mayor of Luton (Ald. J. H. Staddon, J.P.) and the Town Clerk (Mr. W. Smith), Lieut.-Col. Fane. Mrs. Leeds. Mrs. Neumann, Lady Mackenzie. Sir Victor Mackenzie, the Hon. Lady Ward, Lord Erskine, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Baron Michaels, Lady Alwyne Compton, the Hon. Mrs. Guy Westmacott, Sir Edward and Lady Henry, the Hon. Francis Erskine, Capt. Danzas, the Rev. Eugene and Mrs. Smirnoff, Capt, and Mrs. Styles, Brigadier-General the Hon, Ferdinand and Mrs. Stanley, and the Hon. Sir Charles Russell.


Punctually at half-past two o'clock the bride arrived with her father, the Grand Duke Michael. The bridegroom and his best man, Major Badger, 12th Lancers, had already taken up their positions at the sanctuary rails.

The bridal party was met at the Friary entrance by the Sub-Dean, arrayed in scarlet cassock and his Doctor’s hood, and wearing on his stole, among several others, the badge of a Knight of the Royal Victorian Order. He headed the procession to the chancel, the choir singing meanwhile the hymn, " Lead us. Heavenly Father, lead us." Following the bride came her two maids, her cousins. Princess Nina and Princess Xenia, daughters of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess George, of Russia. The bride's gown was of white and silver moire brocade, cut with a short train, and the bodice and upper part of the sleeves were of silver lace. The Court train, unadorned, was of the same exquisite material, her long tulle veil fell from a small Russia coronet of orange flowers, and she carried a sheaf of white lilies.

The entire service was taken by Canon Sheppard, who delivered an impressive address. Dr. C. H. Lloyd (organist and composer of Chapels Royal) superintended the musical portion of the service. Before the bridal entry he played Guilmant's " Marche Nuptials." Tchaikovsky's Nocturne  in C sharp minor, and the "Chant Sans Paroles," the " Eton Memorial March," Dr. Lloyd's own composition, and Sir Hubert Parry’s Inter¬merro and " Bridal March." After the address., the hymn " May the grace of Christ our Saviour " was sung kneeling, and while the register was being signed the choir sang Mendelssohn’s anthem from " Elijah." " For He shall give His angels charge over thee." As the bridal procession passed down the nave the organist played Mendelssohn's " Wedding March." In the courtyard was drawn up a Guard of Honour of the 12th Iancers. and as the bride and bridegroom left they passed under an arch formed of the crossed lances and sabres of the troopers.

The King and Quoen afterwards went to Bath House, where Lady Wernher held a small, informal reception, and where many beautiful presents were on view.

COUNCIL'S WEDDING GIFT. “A Love Match." Mayoral Reference to the Happy Event.

The Mayor of Luton (Alderman J. H. Staddon. J.P.) spoke in very pleasing term;, to the members of the Council on Tuesday evening of the happy event which he and the Town Clerk had the honour of attending at the Chapel Royal on Friday.

Major Harold Wernher wrote. Dear Mr. Mayor,—I hope you will convoy to the Town Clerk and the members of the Town Council my most sincere appreciation for the magnificent silver cup you presented me with on the

a constant reminder both to my wife and myself of those whose interests have grown very dear to us, namely, the town of Luton. It was a great pleasure to us both to have had an opportunity of saying a few words to you at Bath House. I feel sure in reality we both have our mutual welfare at heart. Let us hope a satisfactory peace will soon be declared. and we shall have an opportunity of renewing our friendly relations, which have

duties. Again thanking you all for your great kindness and generosity, yours sincerely, Harold Wernher.’'

The Mayor said that the Town Clerk and he attended together, and he was glad to say that as they had stuck together for the last two years, so they were not separated on this occasion. The treatment they received was of

an exceedingly kind nature, and the conversation he had. both with Major Harold Wernher and his good wife, were of a most cordial character. The Major and his wife personally expressed their gratification of the keen interest the Council had taken in the matter. The Town Clerk and himself were particularly well received as the reprasentatives of the borough of Luton. It was their wish and desire  that the ties which united them should be continued, even though it might not be the good fortune at some future date of Major Wernher to occupy the Hoo.

" I am certain of this," continued the Mayor. “It is nothing more than a love match.     The lady herself is British. All the family     have been born in England,  and we have no cause to think there is any connection with anything other than what is entirely British from beginning to end. We also had a considerable time with the Grand Duke Michael, having conversations on affairs relating to England and Russia, but not matter, of detail."

The Mayor concluded by saying that the Wernher family were grateful for what had been done, and recognised that the gift came officially from the members of the Corporation, and it was their earnest desire that the good relationship between the Hoo family and the borough should be continued—(applause).


Event Place

Author: David

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