Essence of a fairy tale
We have witnessed another wedding spectacle that will remain in the center of discussions in all corners of the world in the next coming days and even months. This is the British royal wedding that captivated the hearts of so-many ladies in waiting, the Cinderella believers that somehow, someday, they will meet their royal prince charming.
The last time we had seen this wedding spectacle was on April 29, 2011, when Prince William, the firstborn of the heir to the British throne, Prince CharIes, exchanged vows with Catherine Middleton, his girlfriend for seven years at Wesminster Abbey, one of the world’s greatest churches dating back more than a thousand years ago. It was a classic example of the British royal wedding, unmatched and unparalleled for its glamour and pageantry.
The royal wedding that took place on May 19, 2018, in St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle in United Kingdom had some kind of twist. This time, the bride was an American whose mother was black American, her name was Meghan Markle, born in Los Angeles, an actress, a divorcee and a well-known television personality in the US, widely known for her role in the Canadian-American legal television series, Suits. She has been Prince Harry’s apple of his eyes since 2016 and has been dating the prince since June 2016.
Getting all the nods
Unlike Prince Harry’s grandfather, King Edward VIII who had to abdicate his crown in order for him to marry his American sweetheart, divorcee Wallis Simpson in 1936, Prince Harry’ marriage with Meghan Markle, received no opposition from the public nor from the British royal family.
In fact, on the morning of May 19, Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, conferred upon him three titles, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. As a new member of the British royal family, Markle would become Duchess of Sussex. Using the Anglican church standard service of matrimony and the liturgical text of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby officiated at the wedding.
The hearts grow fonder
Prince Harry and Meghan’s relationship started in London on July 2016, Markle, then 34, met Prince Harry, then 31, when they were introduced by a mutual friend. The budding relationship was confirmed later on by Harry’s best friend in the late October.
Their relationship, even if they made some valiant attempts to keep it from public, still passed through heavy scrutiny of the international press. Prince Harry and Markle love affair was officially acknowledged only when a statement was issued by the royal family’s communication secretary on November 2016 to address what they called “wave of abuse and harassment” directed toward Markle.
The news about the sweethearts’ forthcoming marriage was announced on November 27, 2017, that Prince Harry would marry Markle in the spring of 2018,. They were seen in London earlier the same month, with Prince Harry gave Markle an engagement ring made by the famous court jewellers and medalists to the Queen, Cleave & Company, the ring has a large diamond originated from Botswana with two smaller diamonds from Princess Diana’s jewellry collection. They also announced that Nottingham Cottage would-be official residence following their marriage, located within the premise of the Kensington Palace.
The kingdom in festive mood
At the delight of the people who heard the news, most especially the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, congratulations from various political leaders in United Kingdom poured in, in the likes of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, including Jeremy Corbyn, the British opposition leader. The couple cordially gave an exclusive interview to Mishal Husain of BBC News after the announcement.
The public announcement of the wedding was held at the Sunken Gardens of the Kensington Palace where Markle dressed in a bottle knee-length, emerald green outfit detailed at the cinch waist by Italian label, P.A.R.O.S.H. and a white trench coat made by Canadian brand, Line the Label. It was learned later that the website of Line the Label crashed down due to the big number of people who wanted to purchase the trench coat, hours after the wedding announcement.
After the announcement of the engagement, it stirred so much amount of expectations about the social significance of Markle marrying into the British royal family since she is only the second American, first was Wallis Simpson who married King Edward III in 1936. Markle is the first person of mixed-race heritage, her mother is a black American while her father is white and she would be on the eve of becoming a proudly mixed-race royal.
Paving the way to the altar
The Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 states that the first six persons, in the line of succession require the Sovereign consent in order to marry and Harry is the fifth in line at the time of his marriage. This requirement did come in handy for Harry. Markle had to change her religion prior to her wedding, though she attended a private catholic school in her early age, she was not a Roman Catholic. She was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England on March 6, 2018, by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in St. James palace.
Being a divorcee with a living spouse, it did not hinder Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry because in 2002 the Anglican church had already allowing marriages to divorced persons with living spouses. This would also signal the years-long process for Markle to acquire her British citizenship. In the meanwhile, she would retain her US citizenship while her British citizenship is in process. Anent to this, the Kensigton Palace has indicated that the decision whether or not Markle will retain her dual-citizenship has not yet been made.
If Markle retains her US citizenship, it would result to some tax complications and eventually expose Markle’s finances to the scrutiny of IRS.
The couple’s engagement
It was Christmas of 2017, when the couple was invited by the Queen to celebrate with the royal family.at the Sandringham estate and at the same time, Prince Harry would propose to Markle. The engagement was photographed by Alexi Lubomirski, former assistant of Mario Testino, a world-famous Peruvian portrait and fashion photographer of GQ magazine. The date was December 21, 2017,.
Unlike in the past wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in which the British government announced a bank holiday, it was not done on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding and no bank holiday was announced.
The wedding also coincided with the date of FA Cup final which Prince William normally would attend being President of Football Association. The royal wedding on a weekend is also a break from royal tradition of having weddings on weekdays. In this connection, on February 12, 2018, the Kensington palace also announced that the wedding would commence on 12:00 midday.
Prior to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. George chapel in Windsor was also the venue for wedding of Prince Harry’s uncle, the Earl of Wessex, his cousin Peter Philips and for the blessings of marriage of his father, Prince Charles and Harry’s stepmother, Camilla Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwell.
Summing up the wedding cost
The overall cost of the wedding expected to be around 32 million pounds in which the royal family would shoulder. It would include the cost of the wedding cake estimated to be 50,000 pounds, flower arrangement estimated to be 10,000 pounds and the catering estimated to be 286,000 pounds. It was expected the cost of security would be lower compared to the cost of 2011 wedding of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Royal Borough of Windsor and maidenhead had reportedly spent 2.6 million pounds for the town and road cleaning. It was predicted the wedding would spike tourism growth and 500 million pounds in economic boom.
The bridal gown
Tasked to design the wedding dress was famed British fashion designer, Clare Waight Keller with the backing of Givenchy brand. The dress was made of “double-bounded silk cady cushioned by an underskirt in triple-skirt organza” and had a boat neckline, long sleeves and sweeping train. The silk veil was 16 feet (4.9m) long and embroidered with 55 flowers that represent the 53 countries of the Commonwealth, including Wintersweet flower which grows in Nottingham palace where Meghan and Harry would live after the wedding. Included, too was another flower, the California Poppy, which is the state flower of California.
The veil was secured by a diamond bandeau tiara made in 1932 for Queen Mary and lent to Markle by Queen Elizabeth II, while the center brooch had been a gift from the county of Lincoln in 1893. The tiara is a platinum band consisting of eleven sections, a detachable center brooch with interlaced opals and diamonds while the shoes also came from Givenchy with pointed couture design.
Grooming the Cinderella
Markle’s other outfits were gold and diamond earrings and bracelet that came from Cartier. Markle’s hair was rolled up with face framing tacked behind her ears and well done by Serge Normant. For the occasion, make-up artist did Markle’s make-up. Her look was described as a “soft-brown eyeshadow” with minimal make-up on the face. Her nails were painted in a “neutral-pinky beige” for the ceremony. Markle’s bouquet was designed by Philippa Craddock which had “forget me nots”, scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia and sprigs of myrtle.
Prince Harry chose “forget-me-nots” and personally picked by him in honor of her late mother, Princess Diana. Following royal tradition that began with the Queen mother, the bridal’s bouquet would be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Westminster Abbey.
In line with the customary bridal theme, “Something old-something new, something borrowed, something blue,” Markle’s gown and veil represented (the new), the Queen’s tiara, represented (the old and borrowed). Sprigs of myrtle taken from a plant grown from the myrtle used in the Queen’s wedding bouquet and a piece of fabric from Diana, Princess of Wales wedding gown, represented (the old) and Diana’s favorite flowers, forget-me-nots in the bouquet represented (the blue).
The groom looks so princely
For the occasion, Prince Harry and Prince William wore the frock coat uniform of the Blues and Royals where Prince Harry served sixteen years including combat stint in Afghanistan. The gentleman’s tailor and uniform makers, Dege and Skimmer in Savile Row, London, crafted their uniforms.
The groom had asked permission from the Queen to keep his beard since there are only exceptional circumstances that beards are permitted in the British army. Prince Harry wore the rank of Major with the star, with the Royal Victorian Order from which he is the Knight Commander together with the ribbons of the Royal Victorian Order, Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan. Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee wings.
Prince Williams also wore the rank of Major, he had EIIR cyphers on his shoulder patches, he had gold aguillettes on his right shoulder and wore the stars of the “Order of the Garter”, the ribbons of the two jubilees’ medals as well his RAF wings.
Clare Waight Keller designed the high waisted silk dresses worn by the young bridesmaids which had puffed sleeves while the pageboys wore uniforms that looked as the same as the Blues and Royals uniform. The dress code was specified in the wedding invitations, for men, it was “Dress Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit,” for women, it was “Day Dress and Hat.”
Setting the record straight
The Kensington Palace had made an announcement on April 26, 2018, that Prince Harry chose his older brother, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge to be his best man. That early, there was no confirmation yet, if Prince William would attend the FA Cup final that coincided with the wedding date, an occasion he regularly attended being the Football Association president.
However, Kensington Palace released a statement in December that the wedding would not, in any way tangle with the match schedule, after which it confirmed in March that Prince William would no longer attend the football final anymore.
In choosing Markle’s maid of honour, the name of her best friend, Jessica Mulroney cropped up. In early May 2018, it was confirmed Markle’s would have no maid of honour. Instead, they chose to have bridesmaids and page boys who were all children.
The bridal entourage
There was a total of ten bridesmaids and page boys from which the bride and the groom would select five each. Two of Markle’s godchildren seven-year-old Rylan Ritt and her six-year-old sister Remi, including Brian, John and Ivy Mulroney, who were the three children of her friend, Jessica Mulroney were chosen by the bride.
Prince Harry’s chose his nephew and niece, the son and daughter of Prince George and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Also included were his godchildren, Florence Van Cutsem, Zalie Warren and Jasper Dyer. Another announcement came from Kensington Palace that Prince Charles would accompany Markle down the aisle when it was confirmed that her father, Thomas Markle, Sr. could not attend the wedding due to his recent heart surgery.
Prior to the wedding day, Markle spent the night with her mother at the late 18th-century prestigious five star hotel, Cliveden House while the groom, Prince Harry spent the night with his older brother, Prince William in same prestigious and classic five star hotel, Coworth Park Hotel. Markle’s mother accompanied her on the way to the church.
Around 250 members of the British Armed Forces were handpicked for the occasion, majority of which came from units that had connections with the Prince Harry. The Household Cavalry members formed a staircase party at the chapel and rode as escort. 1st Battalion Irish Guards, 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles. Three regiments from Army Air Corps, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and RAF Honington formed as Street liners.
The wedding service was conducted in accordance with Christian Liturgy on Holy Matrimony described in Common Worship of the Church, the mother church of the Anglican Communion. The public started to arrive at the grounds of Windsor Castle as early as 8:00 am, while the main congregation and the guests began to arrive at about 9:30 am. This was followed by the arrival of the members of the Royal Family. As part of tradition, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were the last to come for the ceremony at around 11:52 am.
The moment she’s waiting
Markle arrived with a party of junior attendants, while the Prince of Wales was standing by for the bride. She proceeded down the aisle followed by the attendants. Prince Charles escorted Markle through the chapel’s quire, accompanied her up to the altar where Prince Harry was waiting. Baroness Fellowes, maternal aunt of Prince Harry, read a scripture lesson from the Song of Solomon in the Christian Bible. David Conner, The Dean of Windsor, conducted the service with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury who performed the wedding ceremony.
The sermon was delivered by the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church (the American member church of the Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend, Michael Curry. His 14-minute address which quoted Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized the redemptive property of love. Due to its unexpected length, it caused the service to exceed by eight minutes. Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson Wilkins, the chaplain of the Queen, including the Coptic Orthodox, Archbishop of London, Auba Angeles offered the prayers.
Published in the Common Worship were the marriage vows and the promise “to love and to cherish” each other. Further, sealed by ring exchange. Cleave and Company designed and crafted the wedding rings with Markle’s ring made of Welsh gold while Prince Harry’s ring was made of platinum. After signing of the registers, the couple and the guests sung the national anthem altogether, Harry and Markle paused briefly, bowed and paid respect to the Queen. As they walked down the aisle, they were followed by the bridal entourage and their family members. At the steps outside the chapel, Harry and Markle kissed each other.
At the wedding receptions
After the wedding ceremony, it was followed by a carriage procession through Windsor. A couple of receptions were held in different venues. The first was held in St. George Hall for the guests who attended the ceremony and was hosted by the Queen. Singer Elton John performed for the guests. The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry gave each a speech. The second was held in Frogmore House for the royal family and close friends and was hosted by the Prince of Wales.
Later in the day, Harry drove his new wife to the Frogmore House reception in a silver blue colored Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero, a new version of 1968 Jaguar Concept Zero, with the customized licensed plate bearing their names and date of their wedding. In the evening reception, the Duchess of Sussex wore a Stella McCartney creation, a halter-neck open-back dress complimented with an emerald-cut aqua-marine ring formerly belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales. For the private party, she took the service of stylist George Northwood.
Breaking the tradition, Markle delivered a speech at the event. The Duke of Cambridge also gave a speech while DJ Elba entertained the guests. After the party, the guests were treated to a small fireworks displayed on top of the Frogmore House. The wedding cake had layered lemon and elderflower cake, decorated with peonies in shades of white and cream, created by Claire Ptak, cake designer based in London who was chosen as early as March 2018.
The official photographer was Alex Lubomirski who released the three official wedding photographs in Windsor after the wedding ceremony.
All the music they played
One of the hymns sung at the wedding was Lord of All Hopefulness and Guide Me O Though Great Redeemer which was the favorite of the late Princess Diana. It made Prince Harry teary eyed when he heard it. It was also the song used in his mother funeral and in Prince William wedding, was the opening hymn.
The music provided for the service by a couple of choirs, an orchestra, chapel organ and the fanfare trumpeters. The orchestra was composed of musicians from BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Aside from the Choir of the St. George Chapel, the Kingdom Choir, a gospel group led by Karen Gibson sang “Stand By Me” and was an incredible and powerful moment.
A fanfare was played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, Kate Sandford did a piece also and was the first female trumpeter at a British royal wedding. James Vivian, the chapel’s organist and Director of Music was the overall musical director and Christian Warren-Green conducted the orchestra.
To the tune of “Eternal source of light divine”, (from the Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne), by Hondel sung by soprano Elin Manahan-Thomas with the trumpet obbligato performed by David Blackadder.
Also, included was a motet, “If Ye Love Me” by Thomas Tallis. The song “Stand By Me” was arranged for the choir by Mark Delisser including “The Lord bless you and keep you” by John Rutter.
In the signing of the register, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 19-year old cellist performed together with the orchestra which played Sicilliene attributed to Maria Therasia von Paradis, Faure’s un reve, a cello and orchestra arrangement of Schubert’s Ave Maria.
The Allegro from the Symphony No.1 in B-flat major of William Boye including “This Little Light of Mine” by Etta James, Jester Hairston and Harry Dixon Loes were also performed for the procession.
Sizing up the wedding venue
An official list of domestic and international political leaders were not required for the wedding and was announced as early as April 2018,. The British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Oppositon Leader Jeremy Corbyn would not attend, too. US President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama were not also invited. It was totally different from the wedding of Prince William, Prince Harry’s older brother which had a large number of guests being an heir to the British throne.
It was decided not to invite political leaders in consideration of the size of the venue which was small and Harry’s position as sixth in-line to the throne. The only politician invited was former Prime Minister Sir John Major because he served as “special guardian” to Prince William and Prince Harry on legal matters after the death of their mother, Princess Diana.
The size of St.George Hall could only accommodate around 600 people, and only those who had a “direct relationship” with Prince Harry were invited.
In the evening reception at Frogmore House, 200 close friends of the couple were invited. Also, invited were 1,200 members of the public who were tasked to greet the couple outside of the chapel. They were people from charities, members of Windsor Castle community, people from the royal households and the Crown Estate including local school children.
And the list of guests goes on…
Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah, The Duchess of York, was invited to the wedding but not invited to the evening reception in Frogmore House. Besides, she was also absent to the recent royal weddings of Prince Williams and Catherine Middleton, Peter Philips and Autumn Kelly, Zara Philips and Mike Tindall, (Peter and Zara were Princess Anne’ son and daughter, (both Harry’s first-cousins). It was reported that being omitted from the guests’ list made Sarah “deeply upset”.
Some non-royal guests were Markle’s co-stars in Suits, Patrick J. Adams, (with wife Troian Bellisario), Gabriel Macht, (with wife Jacinta Barret), Sarah Afferty, Rick Hoffman, Gina Torres, Abigail Spencer, actor George Clooney, (with wife Amal Clooney), Idris Elba and Tom Hardy, actresses Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra and Carey Mulligan (with husband Marcus Mumford, television host, James Corden.
Sports and entertainment personalities included tennis player, Serena Williams (with husband Alexis Ohanian), David and Victoria Beckham, musician Sir Elton John, (with husband David Furnish), James Blunt, Joss Stone and rugby players, Jonny Wilkinson and James Haskell.
Also, invited was Markle’s friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney, Harry’s ex-girlfriends, Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy. Some members of the Middleton family were also in attendance.
The ruler of Lesotho, Prince Seeisoho was the only foreign dignitary invited to the wedding. He was Prince Harry’s friend and co-founded the Sentebale foundation to help orphaned victims of AIDS in Lesotho.
The 2,640 members of the public who attended the wedding in Windsor Castle were showered with gift bags to commemorate the events that contained order service booklet for the wedding, a gold chocolate coin, a bottle of water, fridge magnet, a 20% off voucher for the Windsor Castle gift shop, a tube of handbag shortbread, initials of the bride and groom and the wedding date and venue location were printed out the bag exterior.
Sometime in April 2018, the couple requested that instead of giving gifts, people could just make donations to one of the seven charitable organizations they mentioned in which they had not formally associated with.
The Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was considered the biggest event in 2018, with a viewership of about 18 million in UK alone. While 29.3 million Americans watched in the US, exceeding 23 million Americans who watched the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. It was estimated that more than hundreds of millions watched the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle all over the globe.
Following the royal tradition, princess have been awarded peerages before their marriages which also happened to Prince Harry who was bestowed with three titles, hours before the wedding, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Markle acquired the title “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”
The Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding would be remembered for its significance. A departure from the tradition typically associated with the Royal Family. Started from the essence of African-Ameican culture in service which was a “landmark for African-Americans” benefiting Black British, mixed-race women and to the Royal Family in particular. The limited impact that “Markle being a biracial as opposed to African-American keeping black people from taking her as one of them.”
Credits go to Wikipedia and Google for factual details and images used in this article.