Mardi Gras History
How did Mardi Gras get a King and Queen?
In 1872 his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke of Russia was visiting the United States and wanted to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. For his arrival The Krewe of Rex was organized - principally to entertain the visiting Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. Since America didn't have royalty to properly welcome the Grand Duke, the Krewe of Rex created a King "for the day" so the Grand Duke could be royally received. They secretly anointed one of their own (a certain Mr.Halliday) to be the King of Carnival.
While in New York the Duke was enchanted
by a burlesque performer, named Lydia Thompson, who sang the song
"If Ever I Cease to Love" which he loved. It soon became
known that this same Lydia Thompson would be appearing in New
Orleans during Mardi Gras while the Duke visited, which legions
believe to be why the Duke wanted to go to Mardi Gras. Many also
asked Why did New Orleans have to import a burlesque performer.
So weather by design or chance, Miss Thompson was presented in
New Orleans for that year's Mardi Gras as the Queen. We don't
know if the Duke having a mistress at that time was to be kept
quiet, but the parade band didn't care, and its official theme
then became "If Ever I Cease to Love You." The song
was put to march music and to date has remained the traditional
Mardi Gras song played at every ball during the entrance of the
King and Queen, or should we say Grand Duke and Mistress. Thus
started the tradition of the Mardi Gras King and Queen!