Centuries-old traditions will take centre stage as the world looks forward to the wedding of Prince Harry and his bride, American actress Meghan Markle. It will be the most important day of their lives, but it’s already clear that far from being a sombre and official occasion, the couple want a wedding that is focused on fun, love, celebration and joy that everyone can share in!
The venue for the wedding, at noon on 19 May, will be the stunning St. George's Chapel in Windsor, considered one of the most beautiful examples of late-medieval Gothic architecture in England. With a rich and colourful history, the ornate Chapel features lavish decorations in marble, stained glass, mosaic and bronze. The venue, which can seat 800, is no stranger to the royal family. Prince Harry was christened there as a baby, while Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, had their marriage blessing there in 2005. It will also be the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry’s cousin, Princess Eugenie of York, when she marries Jack Brooksbank later this year.
Although the venue is steeped in tradition, the couple are very clear that their wedding celebrations will “reflect the characters of the bride and groom”. They have been closely involved in choosing the music, hymns and prayers for the traditional ceremony. The Dean of Windsor will marry the couple, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will officiate the marriage vows. In anticipation of the marriage, Meghan was baptised on 6 March in the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace, where her future father-in-law Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the baptism as representatives of the crown. She was later confirmed into the Anglican faith, allowing her to join her soon-to-be husband at Holy Communion.
We might have already seen her in a wedding dress, as her Suits TV character Rachel Zane, but Meghan has hinted that Rachel’s ballerina-style gown was not quite her taste. Professing to like something more “whimsical and romantic”, the modern and elegant bride-to-be will definitely bring her own style to the fore. Inbal Dror, a leading Israeli dress designer, famous for her exquisite lace and elegant silhouettes, has apparently been asked to submit ideas to the Palace, but hot contenders include Meghan’s favourite Turkish-Canadian designer Erdem Moralıoğlu, who is already a hit with the royals. While the designer is traditionally revealed only on the day of the wedding, also in the running to design the wedding dress is the Australian-originated, London-based haute couture fashion house Ralph & Russo, whose design Meghan debuted in one of her engagement snaps.
While speculation is rife around a hundred details about the wedding, one thing is almost certain. Following a tradition that dates to the wedding of Queen Victoria’s oldest daughter, Princess Victoria, a sprig of myrtle will form part of the bouquet. It should be no surprise that the myrtle plant is a symbol of love, as well as the Hebrew symbol for marriage. Apparently, the royal myrtle plant was given to Victoria by her husband Albert’s grandmother and it has featured in royal weddings ever since. There’s also speculation, that despite Meghan’s love of roses and peonies, her bouquet will also include some sprays of lily of the valley. The arching stems of fragrant white bell-shaped flowers will be seen as a tribute to Prince Harry’s late mother Princess Diana, as future sister-in-law Catherine, the Duchess of York’s bouquet also was.
The iconic sapphire and diamond ring that Princess Diana wore at her engagement now sits on the hand of Catherine, but Markle will sparkle, especially with the engagement ring that Prince Harry designed himself, using gems from the jewellery collection of his late mother. The trilogy engagement ring, made by court jewellers Cleave and Company, features a cushion-cut diamond from Botswana as its centrepiece. Its yellow gold band – reportedly a favourite of Meghan’s – will go nicely with the wedding ring, which tradition dictates will be fashioned from a chunk of Welsh gold. Since the Queen Mother started the tradition in 1923, Welsh gold has been used for royal brides ever since.
The Love Nest
The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage, which is tucked away in the grounds of Kensington Palace (fondly referred to as KP by Princess Diana). The two-bedroom cottage is reportedly next to Ivy Cottage, which Princess Eugenie and her fiancée Jack will occupy. While it is the smallest home on the 17th-century estate, it boasts reception rooms designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of the greatest English architects ever, who was also responsible for designing St Paul’s Cathedral. Previous occupants of the cottage include Prince Harry’s aunt, Princess Diana's sister, Lady Jane Fellowes, and her husband Sir Robert Fellowes, who was the Queen's former secretary. Catherine and Prince William will not be far away. They live in the 20-room Apartment 1A, situated inside the Palace. Meghan and Prince Harry will no doubt also have a standing invitation to the private Balmoral estate in the summer and the Sandringham estate at Christmas.
Did you know?
- Meghan Markle might be best known as paralegal Rachel Zane in U.S. TV drama Suits, but she’s also starred alongside Jennifer Aniston in comedy film Horrible Bosses and appeared with Robert Pattinson in the movie Remember Me.
- Like her namesake on TV, Meghan was born Rachel Meghan Markle on 4 August 1981.
- To make ends meet, in between auditions, Meghan learnt the art of calligraphy and used to write out wedding invites for friends and clients.
- Prince Harry and Meghan were rumoured to be ‘set up’ by designer Misha Nonoo, who was married to Alexander Gilkes, one of Prince Harry's school friends.
- Meghan is the first American to marry into the royal family in eight decades. Her predecessor was socialite Wallis Simpson, also a divorcee, who married the Duke of Windsor in 1937.
- Meghan had a lifestyle blog called The Tig, which she closed down, alongside all her social media accounts, last year after her relationship with Prince Harry became public. Royal watchers took it as a sign that she was moving from her Hollywood persona, and readying herself to embrace her new royal role.
- Meghan became a global ambassador for Canadian organisation World Vision in 2016 after travelling to Rwanda to see the impact clean water has on the lives of children and communities.
- Meghan’s walk down the aisle will not be her first time. The actress was married to film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011 in Jamaica, but the couple divorced in 2013. Engelson is apparently producing a comedy about a man who loses his wife to a prince!
- After her junior year at college, Meghan applied for an internship at the U.S. Embassy, and ended up working in Buenos Aires for a few months.
- Meghan is well known for championing women’s rights. At grade school, she was so incensed by a soap ad which showed women washing dishes that she wrote a letter to Procter & Gamble. Months later the ad was changed.