The first child born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on 21st November 1840 was a girl; christened Victoria, after her mother, and created Princess Royal, it was obvious that she was destined for a brilliant marriage to one of the heirs to a European throne and, as the years passed, Prince Frederick William of Prussia emerged as the most eligible candidate. Young Frederick, eldest son of the King of Prussia, was born in 1831 and was wholly in favour of the marriage and the couple were betrothed in September 1855 on the understanding that they would marry when the princess had turned seventeen.
The wedding took place in the Chapel Royal in St. James's on 25th January 1858 and, after a brief honeymoon, the newly-weds left Windsor on 2nd February and made their way to Gravesend to board the Victoria & Albert which the Queen had placed at their disposal. The weather was bitterly cold, with snow falling all day, and the crossing to Antwerp began inauspiciously when the royal yacht collided with a brig and damaged one of her paddle-boxes. Nevertheless, the couple received a rapturous welcome at Antwerp the next morning where they disembarked to continue their journey overland to Berlin.