The thunderous cheers of the London crowds which greeted HRH Princess Elizabeth and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on each occasion when they appeared in public on Thursday, their wedding day, found an echo in the hearts of West country folk.
While celebrations were on simple lines for the most part, they were a mark of the genuine affection of the people of this part of the country for their Royal Highnesses who have both been associated with the West country at various times. The Princess visited Dartmouth some years ago as a Sea Ranger and only last year came to Exeter. Dartmouth is well known, too, to Prince Philip who was at the Royal Naval College there.
Tiverton, another town known to the Princess, had the honour of supplying the pure silk netting for her wedding veil.
Bells were rung at many Churches – in some cases even before daybreak – flags were flown, shop windows and private residences decorated, and special entertainments arranged. One splash of colour at Bideford was provided by the Sea Cadet Training Ship ‘Revenge’, which was gaily decked with bunting.
From North Devon Towns and other local authorities loyal messages of congratulation and good wishes were sent to the Royal couple.
Typical of the messages was the one sent by the Mayor of Bideford, Mr F T Upton, to HRH Princess Elizabeth. It read: ‘The inhabitants of the Borough and Port of Bideford in Devon offer to you and Lieut Mountbatten heartiest congratulations, best wishes and loyal and affectionate regards and, bearing in mind Bideford’s historic naval memories of Elizabethan days, rejoice that a hero of the sea should share your future happiness’. The reply stated: ‘I warmly thank you for your message of good wishes which gave us both great pleasure’ and was signed ‘Elizabeth’.
For the children it was a special day, for by the express wish of HM the King they were the only ones to observe the day as a holiday.
Housewives hurried through their normal morning’s work, and their shopping in order to be at home in time to listen to the broadcast of the wedding at 11am. For those who were out shopping early in the morning, additional zest was lent to their conversation by reason of the fact that details of the bride’s dress and those of the bridesmaids had been revealed that morning.
As 11 o’clock approached the streets seemed less crowded than usual and shopkeepers reported one of the quietest mornings on record.
At the meeting of Bideford Rotary Club at Bromley’s Cafe, a toast was drunk to the Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Gazette article dated 25 November 1947