Everything You Need To Know About Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Royal Wedding
The nuptials will take place at noon on Saturday, May 19, in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Let's start you off simple. Who's getting married?
Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, 33, and Rachel Meghan Markle, 36.
Prince Harry is the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana of Wales. Markle is an American actor and humanitarian.
In an official announcement, the engaged couple said, "they want their Wedding Day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too. This wedding, like all weddings, will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the characters and values of the Bride and Groom."
And you'll want to know when and where this blessed event will take place, yes?
It's 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Rt. Rev. David Conner. The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will officiate as the couple makes their marriage vows.
As you may guess from the name, Windsor Castle is in Windsor, which is about an hour away from Westminster Abbey in London, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine Middleton, were married in 2011.
St. George's Chapel has been one of the most significant places of worship throughout the history of the British royal family. Ten monarchs have been buried there, including Henry VIII and Charles I, and it is the location where Queen Elizabeth II has chosen to be buried. The venue seats approximately 800 people.
Prince Harry was christened in St. George's Chapel on Dec. 21, 1984, and Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had their marriage solemnized there in a Service of Prayer and Dedication on April 9, 2005.
Now we all know Queen Elizabeth II is in charge. Did she have to give her permission?
Yes, because Prince Harry was fifth in line to the throne at the time of his engagement. And she did.
On March 14, at a meeting of the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth formally gave her consent "to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales K.C.V.O. and Rachel Meghan Markle."
The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 changed many archaic laws concerning which members of the royal family could marry. Until then, per the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, the monarch had to give consent before any member of the royal family could marry and anyone who married a Roman Catholic was disqualified from ever inheriting the throne.
That law was repealed in 2013 and the new Succession to the Crown Act mandated that only the first six people in the line of succession had to receive the monarch's permission. And it got rid of the Catholic marriage disqualification.
Can you watch the wedding on live television or streaming online?
Yes, but details haven't been officially announced yet.
TMZ reported in December that the couple will allow cameras inside the chapel for their wedding ceremony, just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did. The cameras inside the chapel will be "pool" cameras, meaning that the footage will be shared by media outlets and able to be broadcast online as well as on television. Stay tuned!
This guest list will be lit. Who's invited?
About 600 people have been invited to the wedding ceremony. Kensington Palace has confirmed that no international or UK political leaders are on the guest list — so Trump, Obama, and Theresa May aren't going.
What about ~regular people~. Are they invited?
Yes — 2,640 people from across the United Kingdom have been invited to the grounds of Windsor Castle "to watch the arrivals of the Bride and Groom, and their wedding guests, at the chapel."
The group will be made up of 1,200 people "from a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have shown strong leadership, and those who have served their communities." There will also be 200 people from charities and organizations that the couple has a connection with, 100 pupils from local schools, 610 members of the Windsor Castle community, and 530 members of the Royal Household and Crown Estate.
Who's going to be Prince Harry's Best man?
Prince Harry's older brother, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will be serving as Best Man.
Who else is going to be in the wedding party?
Nothing has been announced yet, but it seems likely that Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be a page boy and flower girl.
In December, the Sunday Times reported that George, 4, and Charlotte, 2, will be in their uncle's wedding party. The Times also reported that the royal children had met Markle many times and quoted a palace spokesperson as saying, "The wedding will be a family event. You can expect the family to be involved."
How about the bride's parents? How will they be included in the wedding?
Meghan Markle's parents will fly into the UK a week before the wedding to spend time with Prince Harry and his family, and on the big day, Markle's mother Doria Ragland will ride with her to Windsor Castle and her father Thomas Markle will walk her down the aisle of St. George's Chapel.
In the press release announcing Markle's parents roles in the wedding, Kensington Palace also confirmed that all three siblings of the groom's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales will be in attendance, and her older sister Lady Jane Fellowes will give a reading during the ceremony.
Flowers! What about the floral arrangements?
Floral designer Philippa Craddock will oversee a team of florists to create the church and reception decorations for the wedding using "locally sourced foliage" and plants that are in season and will be blooming naturally in May.
The official announcement said that the decorations will include "branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, as well as white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves," and also feature "pollinator-friendly plants from [the Royal Parks] wildflower meadows."
Will there be official wedding photos?
Fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski, who took the couple's engagement photos, will shoot Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's official wedding photographs at Windsor Castle after the ceremony.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Lubomirski said he "could not be more thrilled or honoured to photograph this historic occasion."
"Having taken Prince Harry and Ms. Markle's engagement photos, it brings me such joy to be able to witness again the next chapter in this wonderful love story."
What sort of music will there be during the ceremony?
The wedding ceremony musical program will feature the St. George's Chapel choir, an elite orchestra, state trumpet players, a 19 year-old cellist, and, in a royal wedding first, a gospel choir.
BuzzFeed News UK has the full report on the musical acts.
Now, you're probably not invited. Will there be a way to see the bride and groom in person anyway?
Yes — after the wedding, at approximately 1:00 p.m., the royal couple will leave St. George's Chapel and take part in an open carriage procession through the streets of Windsor Town.
Per the official announcement, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "hope this short journey will provide an opportunity for more people to come together around Windsor and to enjoy the atmosphere of this special day."
A carriage procession! Do we know anything about the carriage or the horses?
The newlyweds will ride in an Ascot Landau carriage pulled by a team of four Windsor Grey horses.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen the same carriage that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rode in during the procession after their 2011 wedding. In the press release announcing the royal couple's decision, Crown Equerry, Col. Toby Browne described the Ascot Landau as a "wonderfully bright, small, lovely carriage, very easy for people to see – the passengers can sit up quite high. So there's lots of visibility for everybody."
The four horses who will be pulling the carriage are named Milford Haven, Sir Basil, Tyrone, and Storm.
And will there be a nod to Prince Harry's military career?
Yes — more than 250 members of the Armed Forces from "regiments and units that hold a special relationship with Prince Harry" will provide ceremonial support at the wedding and during the carriage procession.
"Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are pleased that members of the Armed Forces will play such a special role in their Wedding," the couple said in an official statement. "The Military, and these units in particular, hold a great significance for Prince Harry and the couple are incredibly grateful for their support."
What about the reception?
The queen will host a luncheon for the 600 guests at St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle following the ceremony and the couple's carriage ride through Windsor Town.
St. George’s Hall has been used to host state banquets since the reign of Queen Victoria. The queen also hosted a reception in the hall for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, following the Service of Prayer and Dedication of their marriage on April 9, 2005.
Let's talk about the wedding cake.
There's an afterparty, right?
Of course — Prince Charles is going to host a reception at Frogmore House for around 200 guests.
Frogmore House is a 17th-century royal residence on the grounds of Windsor Castle that the royal family uses to host private and public events. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement photos were taken there, so the location might have special meaning for the couple.
Is there a registry for royal wedding gifts?
Harry and Markle picked seven charities that have a special meaning to them and asked that people give donations instead of sending gifts.
The official announcement said Harry and Markle do not have any formal relationships (like a patronage) with any of the charities and that the couple “personally selected” seven organizations “reflecting their shared values.”
The charities are: Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA); Crisis, the UK national charity for the homeless; Myna Mahila Foundation, which works to empower women in Mumbai’s slums and provides free menstrual products to those women in need; Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity for children who have lost parents while serving in the British Armed Forces; StreetGames, a charity that uses sports to empower young people and create change in low-income areas of the UK; Surfers Against Sewage, a national marine conservation organization; the Wilderness Foundation UK, a charity which promotes the enjoyment of nature and helps at-risk urban youth by working with them in rural environments.
“Many of these are small charities, and the couple are pleased to be able to amplify and shine a light on their work,” according to the announcement.
You probably want to know about the royal wedding bling?
Meghan Markle's engagement ring is made of yellow gold featuring a diamond from Botswana and two diamonds from Princess Diana's collection. And, per royal tradition, her wedding band will probably be made out of Welsh gold.
In their sit-down engagement interview with the BBC, Prince Harry said, "the ring is obviously yellow gold because that's [Markle's] favorite and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the little diamonds either side are from my mother's jewelry collection, to make sure that she's with us on this crazy journey together."
Every royal bride since 1932 has worn a ring made of Welsh gold, so it seems likely that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will continue the tradition.
And Meghan's wedding dress?
We know absolutely nothing about this — and unless something goes terribly wrong, we're not going to find out until the day of the wedding.
The design of every royal wedding dress in recent history has been kept a secret until the moment the royal bride-to-be begins her journey to the church on the big day. Lady Diana Spencer's dress for her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles was dubbed "the most closely guarded secret in fashion history" and Kate Middleton was rumored to switch cars on the way to fittings for her Alexander McQueen dress so as to not be followed by the press.
The only hints we have about Markle's matrimonial preferences come from a 2016 Glamour interview where she talked about shopping for her Suits character Rachel Zane's wedding dress.
"My personal style — wedding or not — is very pared down and relaxed. Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist," Markle said. "I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic. Delphine Manivet and Christos Costarellos are faves of mine for their uniqueness and beauty. And I will always be a fan of Ellie Saab. J. Mendel is spectacular as well, especially for more structural designs."
At the time, Markle said that her favorite celebrity wedding dress was the simple Narciso Rodriguez white sheath gown worn by Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, calling it "everything goals."
But Meghan was married before, right? What did that wedding dress look like?
Meghan Markle wore a strapless floor-length gown when she married ex-husband Trevor Engelson in Jamaica on Sept. 10. 2011.
And last but not least — does this ~royal wedding~ actually matter?
To the future of the monarchy and the British economy and the Commonwealth? Probably not, but a biracial American divorcée marrying into the royal family is certainly notable.
Prince Harry was just moved another rung down the ladder of succession when his sister-in-law Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to her third child on April 23. The chances of Harry becoming king are, at best, slim. This wedding is nowhere near as formal as Prince William's was in 2011.
It's important to remember, however, that Prince Harry's great-aunt, Princess Margaret, was essentially forbidden to marry a divorced man and his father, Prince Charles, was pressured to marry a virgin bride and then actively discouraged from divorce when his marriage with Princess Diana began to fail. When Prince Charles married his lover Camilla, now Duchess of Cornwall, the bride and groom began their second marriage by reciting an act of penitence for their past sins (the adultery which contributed to the ending of their first marriages).