Everybody loves a royal wedding, from the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in England to the beautiful ceremony marrying Princess Ayako and Kei Moriya in Japan. But these modern ceremonies (and the everlasting partnerships they confer) are a far cry from royal marriages from history and the beliefs said royals had about said marriages. Royal marriages have often been very confusing behind the scenes, with fights over legitimacy, bitter negotiations for power, strange traditions and interfering diplomats all creating havoc. Much as we might dream of royal weddings, the marriages themselves in European history have often been subject to some truly bizarre beliefs.
Royal marriages have very rarely been about love; they've been about binding together dynasties, creating peace between countries, strengthening alliances, and providing heirs for family names. When you look at them less as romantic undertakings and more as hideously complicated affairs of state, you can understand why matters could get so complex, and so out-and-out weird. Forget the startling oddity of courtiers "witnessing" wedding nights to make sure the parties consummated their marriage — it wasn't even necessary for royalty to be present at their own weddings at all. Turn off the soap opera and prepare to dive into European royalty's beliefs about marriage; I promise it's even more eye-opening and dramatic. Princesses in limbo and accusations of witchcraft, anybody?