As part of the ongoing British Royal Wedding series, in this post I will feature the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that took place on May 19, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, England.
Prince Harry (Henry Charles Albert David) was born on September 1, 1984; he is the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales. Prince Harry followed in his older brother’s footsteps attending Wetherby School in London, Ludgrove School in Bershire and then Eton College located near Windsor Castle.
In the years following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Prince Harry went through a period of rebellion but eventually he became a very responsible young man. After completing his education in England he spent a gap year in Australia and South Africa. He then went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the Blue and Royals. In 2007 to 2008 Prince Harry served 10 weeks in Afghanistan and then returned in 2012-2013 for a 20 week deployment with the Army Air Corps. In 2014 he launched the Invictus Games which is an international sporting event for wounded or injured serviceman and veterans. In June 2015 Prince Harry officially left military service but remains a patron of the Invictus foundation.
In July 2016, through mutual friends, Prince Harry met an American actress named Meghan Markle. The pair quietly began a long distance trans-Atlantic relationship with occasional visits to Toronto, Canada where Meghan was filming the television series “Suits” and also secret visits to London to visit Prince Harry.
Then on November 27, 2017, Clarence House officially announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan. Afterwards, the couple met with the international press for a photo opportunity at the sunken gardens at Kensington Palace and later an exclusive sit-down interview with the BBC news. During the interview it was revealed that Prince Harry proposed to Meghan earlier in the month during a quiet evening spent at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace. The custom engagement ring was made by Cleave & Company and featured a large diamond from Botswana in the center and two smaller diamonds that had once been a part of Princess Diana’s personal jewelry collection. Special Note: Under the terms of the Succession to the Crown Act, the first six persons in the line of succession are required to obtain the consent of the Sovereign. At the time, Prince Harry was fifth in line and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, gladly gave her consent to the engagement by official declaration to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.
Shortly after the engagement and in preparation for her life within the Royal family, Meghan was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England during a private ceremony at St. James Palace which was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in March 2018. Meghan also began the lengthy process to officially become a British citizen but it was unclear at the time as to whether she would retain her U.S. citizenship and request dual nationality.
The date of May 19, 2018 was selected for the wedding and it was determined that the ceremony and reception would be very different then the wedding of his brother, Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011. The venue chosen for the wedding service would be St. George’s Chapel situated on the grounds of Windsor Castle followed by two wedding receptions. The first reception would be a larger one hosted by Queen Elizabeth (the groom’s grandmother) and held at St. George’s Hall in Windsor Castle. The second reception would be a smaller event held in the evening at Frogmore House located on the grounds of Windsor Home Park and would be hosted by Prince Charles the Prince of Wales (the groom’s father).
Prior to the wedding it was announced that Prince Harry had selected as his best man his older brother, Prince William. It was speculated that Meghan’s best friend, Jessica Mulroney, would be the maid of honor but the bride had decided against having an attendant. The bride and groom selected ten children that would be flowergirls and page boys. The groom chose his nephew and niece, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, his godchildren Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren and Jasper Dyer. The bride chose her godchildren Rylan and Remi Ritt and also the three children of her friend, Brian, John and Ivy Mulroney.
In March 2018, 600 wedding invitations printed by Barnard & Westwod had been sent. It was noted that the invitations specified a dress code of dress uniform or morning coat for men and for women day dress and hat. The wording on the invitation was very standard with the exception that instead of Miss the word Ms. was used to reflect the fact that Meghan had been previously married and divorced.
On the day of the wedding, Prince Harry accompanied by Prince William had walked from the nearby Windsor Castle arriving just minutes before his bride. Special Note: On the morning of the wedding, Queen Elizabeth bestowed on Prince Harry the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Upon her marriage, Meghan would become known as the Duchess of Sussex.
Both brothers wore the frock coat uniform of the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons). Prince Harry needed special permission from the Queen to keep his beard for the wedding ceremony, normally a man in uniform is required to be clean shaven. On his uniform Prince Harry wore the rank of major with the star of the Royal Victorian Order and the ribbons of the Royal Victorian Order, Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, Army Air corps wings, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal as well as the Diamond Jubilee Medal for Queen Elizabeth II.
A few days before the wedding Doria Ragland (the bride’s mother) had made the long journey from California to England, where she would spend the night before the ceremony with her daughter at the Cliveden House. Then, on the morning of the wedding, Meghan and her mother rode the short distance to St. George’s Chapel in a vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom IV.
Once Meagan reached the Chapel, she gracefully ascended the stairs with her beautiful bridal veil floating behind her. Preceded her bridesmaids and page boys, the bride walked confidentially down the aisle unaccompanied to the musical composition “Eternal source of light Divine” by Handel. When she reached the arched entrance to the quire of the Chapel Prince Charles joined her and escorted her the remaining distance to the altar where Prince Harry waited with Prince William. (For more information about An American Bride – Meghan Markle, please click on the link)
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, officiated the Anglican service for Holy Matrimony assisted by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner. Baroness Jane Fellows, Prince Harry’s maternal aunt, read from the Song of Solomon. The sermon was rousingly delivered by the Most Reverend Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church; the American bishop from North Carolina was personally invited by Prince Harry and Meghan.
In keeping with the unusual choices for a Royal wedding, two drastically different choirs were selected to provide music for the service. The first was the Choir of St. George’s Chapel accompanied by an orchestra, the chapel organ and trumpeters. The second was the Kingdom Choir which is a British gospel choir from London which gave a wonderful and joyful rendition of the Ben E. King song “Stand by Me”. An additional musical interlude was performed during the signing of the register by a young British cellist named Sheku Kanneh-Mason, he was the winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year. He performed a musical selection of Sicilienne by Austrian composter Maria Theresia von Paradis and also an arrangement for cello and orchestra of Schubert’s Ave Maria.
The marriage vows and the wedding ring exchange were officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The wedding rings were produced by Cleave & Company and followed the British Royal tradition of by being made from Welsh gold while the ring for Prince Harry was made of platinum.
Afterwards, the bridal couple recessed into a small area behind the altar with their witnesses to sign the register while more musical selections were played. Once finished they emerged and the national anthem was played. Then, the couple stopped to bow and curtsy to the Queen before walking down the aisle followed by the members of the bridal party and their families. As Prince Harry and Meghan came out of the Chapel they paused at the top of the steps to share a kiss. They were greeted by the crowd gathered in the Chapel courtyard, most of those were the couple’s special invited guests from the public that were a select group of people, many young men and women, who had showed strong leadership within their communities.
As the bridal couple descended the stairs, they got into an Ascot Landau carriage for a procession from St. George’s Chapel through the streets of Windsor, into the Great Park and then returning to Windsor Castle. The carriage was pulled by four Windsor Grey Horses and escorted by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Upon returning to Windsor Castle from their carriage procession, the first of the two wedding receptions was held in the St. George’s Hall. This reception was officially hosted by Queen Elizabeth and included mostly guests that had been invited to the wedding ceremony, speeches was given by the groom and Prince Charles and there was also entertainment by Elton John. The highlight of the luncheon was the wedding cake made by London based baker Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery. Sitting upon several golden stands the layered Amalfi lemon and English elderflower cake was decorated with peonies in shades of white and cream.
Later in the evening a second reception was held at Frogmore House located in Windsor Home Park a short distance from Windsor Castle. For the evening event Prince Harry changed into a classic black tuxedo and Meghan wore a halter neck, open back white dress by Stella McCartney, as a very sentimental gesture the Prince had given her an emerald cut Aquamarine ring that had previously belonged to Diana, the Princess of Wales. The newlywed couple left from Windsor Castle and Prince Harry drove a silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero with a specially built left-hand drive.
In a departure from Royal tradition, the bride gave a speech at the evening reception, Prince William also gave a best man’s speech. To conclude the event there was a fireworks display over Frogmore House.
The couple did not leave for their honeymoon immediately following their wedding because there were previously scheduled public engagements in the week after the wedding. Later the couple did leave for a honeymoon but the location was kept a secret.
Shown below are the official wedding portraits