Harry and Meghan will marry at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The chapel last hosted a royal wedding in May 2008 when Peter Phillips – son of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne – married Autumn Kelly. Prince Harry was also christened there in 1984 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.
The weather for the day is looking warm and bright across the country, with temperatures set to peak at 21°C in Windsor.
Meghan will awake for the big day at Clivenden House, a luxury hotel in Buckinghamshire where she’s staying with her mother, while Prince Harry will be at Coworth Park in Ascot with his brother and best man Prince William.
Members of the public who’ve been invited to watch from the castle grounds will begin to arrive from 9am; they include charity workers and community leaders handpicked by the couple. Guests will arrive in Windsor by coach between 9:30am and 11am before meeting at the Windsor Farm Shop, which was founded by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2001 to support local businesses. They will then congregate at the castle’s iconic Round Tower before entering the chapel.
Instructions sent to guests include a ban on cameras, phones, bulky bags and, of course, “No swords”.
Members of the royal family will start arriving by car or by foot from 11:20am, with the Queen being the last to arrive at 11:55am. Harry and William are expected walk up to the Chapel’s West Steps at 1:45pm, where they’ll pass more than a thousand spectators invited into the castle grounds and have the chance to acknowledge 200 representatives from charities Harry has worked with.
With military precision, Meghan will arrive at 11:59am by car – just in time for the 12pm ceremony – accompanied by her mother Doria Ragland, her bridesmaids and her pageboys. The ceremony will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, David John Conner, and the couple’s vows will be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. When the ceremony finishes, the newlyweds will leave the castle by carriage and take a 25-minute procession through the streets of Windsor to greet the crowds.
There’ll be two post-ceremony receptions. The first will be a lunchtime affair hosted by the Queen at St George’s Hall in Windsor Castle, and all of the 600 guests who attended the ceremony are invited. From 7pm, a select group of 200 close friends and family will travel to the nearby Frogmore house for an after-party hosted by the Prince of Wales.
Frogmore House was also the site of choice for Harry and Meghan’s engagement pictures, which were taken by Alexi Lubomirsky, who has been hired again as their official wedding photographer. Ceremony guests rumoured not to have made the cut for the exclusive evening reception include Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy and the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton, who is believed to be pregnant with her first child.
While we won’t know who Meghan has chosen to design her gown until tomorrow, Australian couture house Ralph & Russo has been a firm favourite of the soon-to-be-royal since the couple announced their engagement – Meghan chose a £56,000 sheer dress by the fashion house for their engagement pictures. Other popular bets include Erdem, or Burberry’s outgoing creative head Christopher Bailey.
There are unconfirmed reports the bride has gone for a hand-stitched, heavily beaded design worth around £100,000. Harry, meanwhile, is expected to wear the uniform of the Royal Marines – he took over from his grandfather, Prince Philip, as ceremonial head of the Marines in 2017.
Walking down the aisle…
This morning Kensington Palace announced that Meghan has asked Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle, a role her future father-in-law says he is “pleased” to take. Prior to the news, it had been widely expected that the bride’s mother Doria Ragland would give her away.
Following a week of heightening speculation, Meghan Markle confirmed yesterday that her father Thomas, who was due to walk her down the aisle, will not attend the wedding. In a statement released by Kensington Palace, Meghan said her father needed space to “focus on his health” and thanked the public for their messages of support.
The story first broke on Monday when US celebrity website TMZ revealed Thomas Markle had decided not to travel to the UK to spare the Royal Family embarrassment after he was accused of collaborating with a member of the paparazzi to stage pictures of himself preparing for the wedding. The images showed him being fitted for a suit, looking at pictures of the couple in an internet café and reading a book about British landmarks.
The former lighting director later changed his mind and said he wanted to attend, but that he would be prevented from travelling on health grounds after reportedly suffering a minor heart attack last week. Thomas Markle has since undergone a successful procedure to have three stents fitted in his heart.
The guest list…
We can expect to see up to 50 members of the royal family in Windsor tomorrow, joined by a host of celebrities and public figures. In a tribute to his late mother, Harry has invited all three of Princess Diana’s siblings to the wedding, with Lady Jane Fellowes set to deliver a reading. A number of the Prince’s close friends are expected to attend including Tom Inskip, Guy Pelly and Arthur Landon.
Among Meghan’s friends are Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, stylist Jessica Mulroney and Made In Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh, while several of her castmates in US legal series Suits are understood to have received invites, including her on-screen husband Patrick J Adams.
Music stars the Spice Girls and Ed Sheeran are rumoured to be invited; The Beckhams are known to be close to the royals and attended the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011; and American tennis star Serena Williams is also likely to be present, as she’s a friend of Meghan’s.
One major royal who won’t be attending is three-week-old Prince Louis, who’s being kept away from the public eye. He’s likely to be cared for by a nanny close by. As Harry isn’t heir to the throne, his nuptials are not the state occasion that William’s were in 2011. As a result, there have been almost no invites for politicians and dignitaries at home or abroad, so Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and even former President Barack Obama – who’s a friend of the Prince – won’t be heading to Windsor.
Some members of Meghan’s family have publicly complained about not receiving an invite to her wedding. Samantha Grant, a half-sister from Thomas Markle’s first marriage, has made critical comments about Meghan on a wide range of TV shows, including Good Morning Britain where she was labelled a “vulture” by host Piers Morgan. She is also working on a book entitled Princess Pushy’s Sister.
Yesterday it was reported Grant had been injured in a confrontation with the paparazzi. Her partner told TMZ their car hit a concrete barrier as they attempted to avoid a photographer in Florida, fracturing Grant’s knee and breaking her ankle.
Also not attending is Grant’s brother and Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Jr, who earlier this month published a letter to Harry encouraging him to pull out of the wedding – although he has since said his half-sister will be a “perfect princess”. Last year he was arrested for holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head during an argument. Thomas Jr’s ex-wife Tracey Dooley and her two sons, including cannabis farmer Tyler, have travelled to the UK after receiving offers to report on the wedding for a US network.
The wedding party…
Harry and Meghan have selected six bridesmaids and four pageboys, all of whom are children. Meghan will not have a maid of honour as she couldn’t choose between her close friends. Prince George, four, and Princess Charlotte, three, will take on the central roles alongside three of Harry’s godchildren: three-year-old Florence van Cutsem, two-year-old Zalie Warren and Justin Dyer, aged six. Markle’s goddaughters Remi Litt, six, and her elder sister Rylan, seven, will also be bridesmaids. Completing the party are the three children of Meghan’s close friend Jessica Mulroney: Ivy, four, and seven-year-old twins Brian and John.
William’s responsibilities as best man means he will miss the FA cup final at 5:30pm. As president of the FA, the Duke of Cambridge typically attends the match and hands out the trophy to the winning team.
The wedding is estimated to cost a huge £32m, with policing and security set to be the biggest expense. This compares to a national average wedding cost of around £27,000. The royal family will pay for the “core aspects” of the wedding, such as the church service, music, flowers and the reception, while it’s expected that Meghan will cover the cost of her wedding dress just as Kate Middleton did in 2011. Taxpayers will be paying for the policing costs.
But not everyone is happy to splash out. A petition calling for the government not to spend any public money on the wedding was handed to MPs on Wednesday with 32,000 signatures.
The royal titles…
The Queen is widely expected to grant the couple a Dukedom – the highest title in the British peerage – following the nuptials, as she did for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The vacant title of the Duke of Sussex is regarded as the most likely choice for the Prince. The only previous Duke of Sussex was married twice but neither of his marriages was approved by his father, King George III, meaning they were considered unlawful. Meghan would therefore become the first woman to formally hold the title the Duchess of Sussex.
If, for some reason, the Queen chooses not to grant them an additional title, Meghan would automatically become Princess Henry of Wales. She would officially take her husband’s first name as royal princesses must be born to their titles, for example Princess Charlotte.
Californian baker Claire Ptak, owner of the Violet Bakery in Hackney, east London, has been enlisted to create the royal wedding cake. The couple have asked for a lemon and elderflower cake, opting out of the traditional fruitcake, which is being decorated with fresh flowers.
Crates of pale pink and white blooms were spotted leaving a store belonging to florist Philippa Craddock on Thursday. She has been asked to provide flowers for the event at an estimated cost of between £100,000 and £220,000 and will use types that bloom naturally at this time of year, including white roses, peonies and foxgloves.
James Vivian, Director of Music at St George’s Chapel, will oversee all of the day’s soundtrack. Several musicians have been hand-picked to perform during the ceremony, including 19-year-old British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. The choir of St George’s, which was founded in 1348, will feature alongside gospel group the Kingdom Choir, who’ve said they’re “very excited”.
Yesterday it was reported that Sir Elton John will perform at some point during the big day, 21 years after he sang ‘Candle In The Wind’ at the funeral of Princess Diana. Other rumoured performers for the evening reception include the Spice Girls and Ed Sheeran.
A US preacher belonging to the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, has also been asked to give an address during the ceremony.
The public celebration…
All the main UK broadcasters are devoting much of Saturday to the occasion. Special programmes will begin on BBC One and Sky News from 9am, while full coverage on ITV starts at 9:25am and will continue into the afternoon. Cameras inside the chapel will provide the same view of the ceremony to all networks, although some will have separate commentaries. On radio, Claire Balding will host live commentary from Windsor Castle on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 from 11:30am. Outside the UK, BBC America, BBC Canada and BBC World News will broadcast coverage.
For those not wanting to watch at home, big screens are being erected at various locations across the country. In Windsor, the wedding will be shown on the Long Walk and in Alexandra Gardens, while big screen locations in London include Battersea Power Station and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The BBC has waived the licence fee for the event, meaning street parties and other gathering can watch live without buying a licence.
Some 24.5m people in the UK are expected to tune in and global viewing figures could reach as high as three billion. And if you haven’t decided how to celebrate yet, we’ve rounded up the coolest spots in the capital to watch the wedding as it happens, or simply toast an elderflower-themed cocktail to the happy couple.
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