LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry and US TV star Meghan Markle tied the knot at the St George Chapel on Saturday as the whole world watched on. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who performed wedding ceremony, said the couple were very sensible and self-possessed. “There’s profound affection between them which is wonderful and a deep understanding and mutual support,” he said.
Interestingly, the couple met on a blind date in July 2016 and had a whirlwind romance, criss-crossing the Atlantic as she continued filming in Toronto.
Prince Harry, the youngest son of the late Princess Diana, is one of the most popular royals, while Markle, a divorcee, is seen as a breath of fresh air for the monarchy. They tied the knot at Windsor Castle on Saturday in a royal wedding like no other, mixing British pomp and African-American culture in front of a celebrity congregation and cheering crowds. The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchanged vows in St. George’s Chapel in a historic ceremony, sealed with a kiss, which brought the biracial US TV star into the heart of the British monarchy.
As more than 100,000 people packed the sun-baked Windsor streets and millions watched worldwide, Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family were joined inside by stars including Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Elton John, George Clooney and David Beckham.
The couple held hands throughout and exchanged vows in a Church of England service modified to reflect the bride’s heritage and strong sense of independence. Firebrand US pastor Michael Curry delivered a full-throttle address invoking slaves and the power of love, and a gospel choir sang classics “Stand By Me” and “This Little Light of Mine”. Markle began her walk down the aisle alone with her ten bridesmaids and page boys walking behind her flowing white silk dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller at the French fashion house Givenchy. Her father had been due to meet her half way but after he pulled out because of heart surgery, Harry’s father Prince Charles stepped in to escort her the rest of the way to the altar.
Markle’s father Thomas Markle also followed the wedding on TV and voiced regret he was unable to attend. “My baby looks beautiful and she looks very happy. I wish I were there,” he was quoted as saying.
Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, looked visibly moved during the wedding and at the end, thanked Charles — the heir to the throne — for his role.
With the words “I will”, 33-year-old Harry, and US former actress Meghan, 36, declared they would love, comfort, honour and protect each other. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby declared them husband and wife — sparking huge cheers from crowds outside the church, who were watching on big screens.
Smiles at the altar
Harry hand-picked flowers for Markle’s bouquet from their home at Kensington Palace, which were mixed with forget-me-nots, his late mother Diana’s favourite flowers. Her five-metre veil also contained floral designs from her native California and all 53 Commonwealth countries.
The groom and his brother Prince William – his best man – wore the blue doeskin frockcoat uniform of a major in the Blues and Royals, the regiment Harry served with in Afghanistan during his 10 years in the British army. “You look amazing,” Harry told his bride as she arrived. The couple grinned during Curry’s booming address about the power of love in which he quoted civil rights icon Martin Luther King. “I’m talking about some power. Real power. Power to change the world,” the African-American preacher intoned. There were no political leaders among the 600 guests but many celebrities, including Idris Elba, James Blunt, Tom Hardy and James Corden.
The newlyweds kissed on the church’s West Steps after the wedding, before going on a carriage procession ride through Windsor where tens of thousands of flag-waving well-wishers cheered them on. The streets of the picturesque town were out with bunting, and there was a carnival atmosphere on the Long Walk, the grand tree-lined avenue on the procession route.
Kiss and carriage ride
Hundreds of street parties and public screenings were held around Britain where the wedding is a welcome respite for a country still burdened by austerity and divided over Brexit. Revellers also packed into bars to watch as far afield as Sydney, Hong Kong and Markle’s native Los Angeles, for what is likely to be the last big British royal wedding for a generation.
In Windsor, thousands of fans bagged their spots by dawn, bearing rugs and picnics, Union Jack flags and patriotic paraphernalia, and the bubbly was flowing freely. The queen hosted a lunchtime reception at the castle, where Elton John performed to guests eating canapes including Scottish langoustines, English asparagus and Windsor lamb. The royal couple cut the lemon and elderflower cake, while Charles and Harry made speeches introduced by William.
Prince Harry was scarred by his mother Diana’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997 when he was just 12, and he had to mourn in the full glare of the world’s media. His wedding featured a hymn used at Diana’s funeral, at which he and William had walked behind her casket.
Sixth in line to the throne, Harry is one of the most popular royals, while Markle, a divorcee, is seen as a breath of fresh air for the monarchy.
New titles given
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now given the official titles of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have released three official photographs from their big day at Windsor Castle. The images were taken by photographer Alexi Lubomirski at Windsor Castle, following the carriage procession.
Kensington Palace said the couple would like to thank everyone who took part in the celebrations on Saturday. A Palace spokesperson added Harry and Meghan “feel so lucky to have been able to share their day with all those gathered in Windsor and also all those who watched the wedding on television across the UK, Comm-onwealth, and around the world”. One of the photos shows Harry and Meghan along with the bride’s mum Doria Ragland, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the many children who took part in their day.
Another shows the happy couple with the children, including Princess Charlotte who was a bridesmaid and Prince George who was a page boy.
The other page boys are stylist Jessica Mulroney’s twin sons Brian and John Mulroney, and Harry’s godson Jasper Dyer, who is the son of Amanda Dyer and Mark Dyer. Jessica Mulroney’s daughter Ivy Mulroney was also a bridesmaid, alongside Meghan’s goddaughters Remi Litt and Rylan Litt, plus Harry’s goddaughters, Zalie Warren and Florence van Cutsem. The final snap is a black and white shot of the pair together.
According to the official web site of the British Royal Family, both Prince Harry’s wedding band and Meghan Markle’s tiara were set in platinum. Prince Harry said “I Do” with a platinum wedding band featuring a textured finish, from the Cleave workshop.
Meghan’s veil was held in place by Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, set in platinum. It was lent to Meghan by The Queen. The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the centre brooch dating from 1893.
The bandeauis formed as a flexible band of eleven sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds. The center is set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.
The diamond bandeau was made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the centre brooch. This brooch was given as a present to the then Princess Mary in 1893 by the County of Lincoln on her marriage to Prince George, Duke of York. The bandeau and the brooch were bequeathed by Queen Mary to The Queen in 1953. Rare and precious, platinum wedding jewelry is popular with Royal families. Queen Elizabeth II’s elegant ring from Prince Philip was set in platinum, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco second engagement ring to Grace Kelly was also set in platinum. Since platinum is naturally white, it truly enhances the brilliance of diamonds, and is also widely known as the most secure setting.