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Posted: May 11, 2018

Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Reveal Engagement Photos

By Jill Vejnoska, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

LONDON —

On May 19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in Windsor, England, in a ceremony that will be low-key only by royal standards.

>> Read more trending news

For the millions of commoners expected to watch on TV, some aspects of the nuptials may seem as odd or over-the-top as the more highbrowed guests’ headgear.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The hat that made the world gasp with horror. (L-R) Princess Eugenie of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Princess Beatrice of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York following the marriage of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England. Beatrice’s “fascinator,” which the British press uncharitably dubbed the “Squid Hat,” ended up being auctioned off for big charity bucks.

Other aspects will be as swoon-inducing as tiny titled tots in wedding finery:

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews leave St Mark's Church following their wedding on May 20, 2017 in Englefield, England. Pippa Middleton, background right, and James Matthews leave St. Mark's Church after their wedding Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Englefield, England. Middleton, the sister of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge married hedge fund manager Matthews in a ceremony where her niece and nephew, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were in the wedding party, along with sister Kate and princes Harry and William.

This guide covers everything anyone’s ever wanted to know about the big event. Plus a few things we’d all probably like to unknow (Two words: wedding fruitcake).  

The happy couple:

Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales (aka “Harry”), 33, is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. He’s fifth in line to the throne (Charles is first), but will slip down another rung any day now when his sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to her third child. 

>> Meghan Markle: 7 things to know

Rachel Meghan Markle of California (aka “Meghan”), 36, is the only child of Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who are divorced. She co-starred for seven seasons on “Suits” on USA Network, but says she’s retired from acting (one day after the royal engagement announcement on Nov. 27, USA made it official Markle wouldn’t be back for season eight.) Her last appearance, in the two-hour season finale, aired April 25.

Royal Love: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The “I Do” date and time: The ceremony begins at noon local time on May 19. That’s 7 a.m. EST in the U.S. After the ceremony, the newlyweds will take a carriage ride through the town of Windsor, then head back to Windsor Castle.

Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images
A view of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have their wedding service, February 11, 2018 in Windsor, England. The Service will begin at 1200, Saturday, May 19 2018.

The venue: St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. A royal residence some 20 miles west of London, Windsor Castle is where Queen Elizabeth spends most weekends. It’s the largest inhabited castle in the world.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting married May 19 in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The chapel, which was built in the 14th century, is where some other royals have wed. In 2005, Harry’s dad and stepmom, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were married in a civil service in the town of Windsor, then had a prayer service at St. George’s Chapel. It seats 800 people.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engaged: What to know

Many royals are buried in the chapel as well. Most infamously, perhaps, King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, his third of six wives, lie there for eternity.

John Spink/jspink@ajc.com
Prince William and Kate Middleton become man and wife in April 2011 while a crowd in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park watches the live broadcast on large screen televisions.

Will it be on TV?: Two things are beyond certain about this wedding: The queen and her colorful hat will have the best seat in the house. And it will be televised and live-streamed. England is the royal family, in the eyes of much of the world. And nothing brings in tourists and other business like TV coverage of a fancy wedding ,complete with gold carriages and royal trumpeters. When Harry’s brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton in 2011, it was shown live on TV in over 180 countries and streamed online (YouTube alone had 72 million livestream views). All the major TV networks will have five hours of live coverage or more on the big day, and you can even book a seat in three metro Atlanta movie theaters to watch a commercial-free replay just a few hours later. Read a complete viewing guide here, including the lineup of related specials, movies and documentaries airing all wedding week.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seek charity donations over wedding gifts

The reception: All guests invited to the actual ceremony will attend a luncheon afterward hosted by the queen at St. George’s Hall. The traditional wedding cake for royal weddings is fruitcake.

Royal Weddings Through The Years

But Harry and Meghan are said to be going rogue and having a “lemon elderflower cake” with buttercream icing. Next up: A reception that night for an even more select guest list of 200 people that Prince Charles is throwing at Frogmore House, another royal residence about a half-mile from Windsor Castle. 

The wedding party: The Brits do this differently, generally favoring little kids as “bridesmaids”/flower girls and page boys instead of adult attendants. In past royal weddings this has led to such memorable incidents as a wee Prince William playing with his straw boater hat and chattering away during the 1986 nuptials of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Right now, William’s own kids, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are considered locks for Uncle Harry’s wedding party; so is the 4-year-old daughter of Markle’s Canadian stylist and close friend, Jessica Mulroney. Meanwhile, you can bet on everything in the U.K.when it comes to this wedding and William is getting top odds to be his brother’s best man (oddsmaker William Hill also is taking bets on how William will wear his hair on the big day).

On April 26, Kensington Palace sent out a tweet making it official that William will be Harry’s best man.

Who’s invited: Six hundred invitations to the ceremony have gone out (the chapel seats about 800). Count on all the immediate royal relations (The Queen and Prince Philip, Uncle Prince Andrew and his fun loving daughters Beatrice and Eugenie), plus various dukes and duchesses and major and minor European royalty.

Then there are some celebrity friends of the bride -- tennis star Serena Williams) and groom -- singers James Blunt and, if you believe the tabloids, Rihanna -- who should make the cut. Also, the Spice Girls may or may not be there. Mel B, aka Scary Spice, has said they will be, but when asked about it by “Late Late Show” host James Corden, Posh Spice Victoria Beckham  stammered, “I don’t know.”

Royal Wedding: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Release Wedding Invitations

Additionally, 2,640 members of the public have been invited inside the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch the arrival and departure of the wedding party and guests. Included are 100 schoolchildren, 600-plus people who live and work around Windsor Castle, plus others from charities, nonprofits and other causes important to the couple.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry on day 7 of the Invictus Games 2017 on September 29, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

Who’s not invited: Besides you and me? President Donald Trump. And he’s in good company. British Prime Minister Theresa May isn’t invited either. In fact,  no U.S. or world political leaders have been invited, according to Kensington Palace (home base and official representative of Harry and William). “It has been decided that an official list of political leaders — both UK and international — is not required for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding,” the palace explained in that lovely, do forgive us sort of British way. Royal officials won’t say if good FOH (Friends of Harry) Barack and Michelle Obama, were invited, but it’s known they’re not going.

>> See Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s official wedding invitation

What about Fergie? That would be Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and friend of Harry’s late mother, Diana. The fun-loving redhead fell out of favor with the royal family after her 1996 divorce from Prince Andrew. In a very public dis, she was left off the guest list for William and Kate’s 2011 wedding.

British tabloid the Sun quoted an unnamed source who said she won’t be there because Harry supposedly couldn’t trust her to “keep her mouth shut and respect their privacy.” People reported Harry had “pushed for” Fergie to be invited because he’s very close to her daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

Royals Reportedly Angry Over Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Inviting Sarah Ferguson to Wedding

What about Meghan’s family? Though long divorced, Markle’s parents released a joint statement of joy over her engagement and it’s said both will be at the wedding. In fact, Thomas Markle, an Emmy-winning lighting director, is expected to give his daughter away.

>> Who are Meghan Markle’s family members, Prince Harry’s future in-laws?

After that, things get a bit sticky. Proving that the royals don’t have a monopoly on family issues, Meghan’s two older half siblings from her dad’s first marriage reportedly aren’t invited -- and at least one of them isn’t happy about it. Her half sister, Samantha Grant, has reportedly claimed Meghan is “inviting 2000 complete strangers” to the wedding rather than family and even blasted Harry about it with a “Time to man up!” tweet. Grant’s reportedly writing a book about Markle. Trevor Engelson, an American movie and TV producer and Markle’s ex-husband, is said by some British newspapers to be developing a show about an American divorcee who moves to England to marry a prince.

Meghan’s wedding dress: Despite her convention-flouting penchant for wearing pants at some royal engagements, it’s expected that Markle will wear a dress. The design is top-secret, but the designers mentioned most often as front-runners to create it are Erdem Moralioglu, Ralph & Russo and Alexander McQueen. All three are London-based and McQueen designed Kate Middleton’s royal wedding gown. With it being the U.K., spectators can bet on the dress. However, sometimes British bookmakers have periodically suspended betting as a lot of money pours in on one particular designer.

Harry’s duds: Most likely a uniform -- he’s got tons of them.  Harry served in the British Army for 10 years, doing two tours in Afghanistan and rising to the rank of captain. In 2014, he launched Invictus Games, an annual Paralympic-style sporting event for injured servicemen and women. In December, he was appointed Captain General Royal Marines, taking over the important ceremonial role after 64 years from his grandfather, Prince Phillip.

Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Prince Harry stands to attention at his passing-out Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy on April 12, 2006 in Sandhurst, England.

What everyone else will wear: For men, the invitation specifies “dress uniform, morning coat or lounge suit.” For the ladies, it’s “day dress with hat.” Many women will sport fascinators, lightweight headpieces decorated with feathers, flowers and beads, among other items. They are worn for formal occasions. 

What Prince William Said He's Most Looking Forward To After Prince Harry Marries

Royal Wedding souvenirs : Shops in London already have royal wedding mugs, tea towels, decorative objects and the like for sale.


Related

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline

Prince Harry dated actress Meghan Markle for more than two years before they announced an engagement in November 2017.

>> Read more trending news

Here is a timeline of the couple’s relationship:

July 2016

Markle would later reveal in an October 2017 interview Vanity Fair that she and Harry met in London in July 2016.

Nov. 8, 2016

Kensington Palace confirms Harry is dating Markle by issuing a statement calling for an end to sexist and racist harassment of Markle on social media. Markle is referred to as Harry’s girlfriend in the Nov. 8 statement from his communications secretary.

“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” part of the statement said. 

The statement went on to say Harry is worried about Markle’s safety and is “deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.”

Nov. 26, 2016

Prince Harry’s brother, Prince William, issues a statement of his own supporting Harry and Markle.

“The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him,” William said in a statement to The Daily Telegraph.

Dec. 14, 2016

The first photos emerge of Harry and Markle as a couple, according to a claim from British tabloid The Sun. Wearing winter coats and beanies, the couple was reportedly going to the Gielud Theatre in London. The day before, the tabloid said the two picked out a Christmas tree together. 

Jan. 15, 2017

The Sun reports that Markle has met Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and Princess Charlotte.

“It went really well and Meghan was very excited about meeting her,” an unnamed friend told the paper.

Feb. 2, 2017

The Sun once again publishes photos of the couple together, this time after a dinner date at Soho House in London. An unnamed person who saw the two told the tabloid the couple “tried to keep as low-key as possible.”

Related: How did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet?

March 3, 2017

Harry and Markle were photographed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for the wedding of one of Harry’s college friends, Tom “Skippy” Inskip.  The Telegraph reported that the two were affectionate during the three-day wedding event.

May 20, 2017

Markle accompanies Harry to Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception, according to UsWeekly. Earlier that month, on May 7, People reports that the two were photographed kissing in the Coworth Park Polo Club parking lot in Ascot, England. Markle had been cheering Harry on during a charity polo match with William.

August 2017

Markle and Harry are photographed at a Botswana airport in Africa for Markle’s 36th birthday. E! News reported they stayed with close friends of Harry, who met Markle for the first time. 

Sept. 5, 2017

Markle speaks publicly for the first time about her relationship with Harry in an interview with Vanity Fair. She expressed the support she has from her boyfriend after the media attention since they began dating.

“(T)he only thing that changed was people’s perception,” she told the publication. “Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

Related: Prince Harry engaged to Meghan Markle

“We’re in love. I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that it’s just ours. But we’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story.”

Sept. 13, 2017

UsWeekly reported that Merkle has met Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, Sept. 3.

“It went well. It’ll no doubt be the first of many encounters,” an unnamed source told the magazine.

The report comes as engagement rumors continue. UsWeekly claims Harry has already created an engagement ring.

November 2017

Harry proposes to Markle earlier in the month. Weeks later, on Nov. 27, the royal engagement is announced. At a photo call the same day, Markle debuts her three-diamond engagement ring, which includes two diamonds from Diana, Princess of Wales’s personal collection. When asked if the proposal was romantic, Harry responded, “Of course it was.”

May 19, 2018

Nearly two years after they first met, Harry and Markle marry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in London. Before the ceremony, Queen Elizabeth conferred the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Prince Harry and Markle.

Oct. 15, 2018

Less than five months after their May wedding, Markle and Harry announce they are expecting their first child. Kensington Palace announced that the baby is due in Spring 2019.

People reported that a Kensington Palace statement also included a reaction from Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland.

“Ms. Ragland is very happy about this lovely news and she looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild,” the statement read.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engaged: What to know 

It was announced Nov. 27 that Prince Harry proposed to girlfriend Meghan Markle. The news came some time after the engagement took place and more than a year after the youngest son of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles and the former actress began dating.

>> Read more trending news

Here’s what we know of the engagement:

The couple will marry in spring 2018. The ceremony is scheduled for May 19 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. It’s the same place Harry’s father, Prince Charles, married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005.

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline

Harry proposed to Markle in London. According to the official announcement from Clarence House, the pair became engaged earlier in November.

Markle will make history as Harry’s wife. Markle, who is from Los Angeles and is known for her role on the USA show “Suits,” will be the first American officially brought into the family. King Edward VIII was engaged to and married American divorcee Wallis Simpson, but abdicated the throne in 1936 before marrying her. 

Related: Meghan Markle: 7 things to know

Although reports say she will no longer be actingUSA Today reported that she will also be the first actress and first biracial person to marry a ranking member of the royal family. Markle’s father is white and her mother is African-American.

Prince Harry designed the engagement ring with inspiration from Diana. At a Monday photocall after the engagement announcement, Markle showed off a three-diamond ring with a gold band. 

BBC News reported that Harry designed it. Two diamonds on the ring once belonged to Diana. The center stone came from Botswana, the African country near to Harry’s heart and one the couple have spent a lot of time in. The Guardian reported that the ring was made by Cleave and Company.

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Will wedding make American a princess?

Queen Elizabeth II will bestow a title upon Harry. As a result, Markle will have a title too. According to the Press Association, royal tradition says that royal men receive a title when they get married. Harry is expected to be named Duke of Sussex by his grandmother the morning of the wedding. Markle would become a duchess, although the public may likely refer to her as Princess Meghan.

Who are Meghan Markle’s family members, Prince Harry’s future in-laws?

It was announced on Tuesday that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in May at Windsor Castle. The official release from Kensington Palace -- home base of the future royal spouses as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka William and Kate, and their children -- said the ceremony would take place at St. George’s Chapel, located on the grounds at Windsor.

>> Read more trending news

It’s a much more intimate setting than St. Paul’s Chapel, where Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, were married in front of 3,500 invited guests, or Westminster Abbey, where 2,000 people watched as Harry’s older brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton.

St. George’s seats only about 800 people.

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engaged: What to know

Among the attendees are sure to be some of Markle’s family.

Less is known about Markle’s family than Prince Harry’s royal family.

The 36-year-old American actress is the only child of an African-American mother and white father who divorced when she was six.

Here’s more information about Markle’s family

Her father, Thomas Markle, is an Emmy-winning cinematographer and lighting director. His credits include such popular TV shows as “The Facts of Life” and “General Hospital,” where he won a Daytime Emmy Award for lighting direction in 2011. From 1988 to 1996, he was director of photography on the bawdy Fox sitcom “Married ... with Children,” where Meghan found a second home of sorts. “Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of ‘Married ... with Children,’” the 36-year-old actress told Vanity Fair magazine in an interview in September, “which was a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up.”

Related: Meghan Markle: 7 things to know

Her mother, Doria Ragland, is a social worker and yoga instructor in Los Angeles. Growing up, Meghan lived with her mother, who was Thomas Markle’s second wife. Mother and daughter remain close and the warm relationship now has extended to include Prince Harry. In September, Ragland, 61, was photographed smiling alongside her future son-in-law at the closing ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto. “Her mum’s amazing!” Harry said during the couple’s first joint interview with the BBC on the night their engagement was announced. But life hasn’t always been easy for Ragland, whom Meghan recalls hearing called the N-word when they were out together at a concert when she was in college. And Ragland’s in the glare of the spotlight now: On Sunday, the day before the royal engagment was announced, photos appeared on the British tabloid site DailyMail.com of Ragland watering plants and getting into her car outside her home. By late Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported, a large “No Trespassing” sign had been hung on Ragland’s front gate and a security guard was posted outside.

Related: Who is Trevor Engelson, Meghan Markle’s ex-husband?

Markle’s older half sister, Samantha Grant Markle, is one of two children from Thomas Markle’s first marriage, Grant Markle, 52, is a former model and actress who lives in Florida. Her IMDb profile shows one acting credit, a 1993 episode of “Matlock” titled “The Competion.” A year ago, Meghan and Harry’s romance became public knowledge and another British tabloid, The Sun, quoted Grant Markle as saying of the “Suits” star: “Hollywood has changed her. I think her ambition is to become a princess.” But she later disavowed those remarks, saying, “Don’t believe what you read in tabloids.” In a live TV interview with “Good Morning Britain” on Tuesday, Grant Markle said of the royal engagement, “It’s lovely, but I have to say I think what’s more important to our family, and certainly to her, is that you find the person that’s the best fit for you, that you love. That really makes you happy.”

Related: Will the Queen skip Harry and Meghan’s wedding?

Meghan’s half brother, Thomas Markle Jr., seems to have avoided being bitten by the show business bug. He reportedly lives and works as a window fitter in Oregon. Press accounts say that the 51-year-old, also a child of Thomas Sr.’s first marriage, is engaged to Darlene Blount, 36. One tabloid has reported that Thomas Jr. has invited Meghan and Harry to his nuptials.

Related: Will royal wedding make American Meghan Markle a princess?

Her great-great-grandfather, Jerry Miah Ragland, was a Georgia native, according to a genealogist whom Daily Mail TV hired this fall to research Meghan’s family history. The research found that “Meghan Markle's great-great-grandfather Jerry Miah -- or Jeremiah -- Ragland was born in 1883, in Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia.” He and his Georgia-born wife, Claudia Ritchie, later moved to Chattanooga, where he worked as a tailor.

This story was originally posted on myAJC.com.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle plan May wedding at Windsor Castle

Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle will get married in May at Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace officials said Tuesday, one day after the couple’s engagement was announced.

>> Read more trending news

The wedding will take place at Windsor Castle’s historic St. George’s Chapel. The chapel was also where Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles had their union blessed 12 years ago, according to the Evening Standard.

The royal family will pay for the wedding, Kensington Palace officials said.

The ceremony is scheduled to take place one month after another big royal event.

Harry’s brother, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is expected to welcome his third child with his wife, the former Kate Middleton, in April. The couple has two other children, 4-year-old George and 2-year-old Charlotte.

>> Related: Prince William, Kate Middleton expect 3rd child in spring

The duchess of Cambridge said Tuesday that she and the duke are “absolutely thrilled” by the news of the upcoming nuptials.

“It’s such exciting news,” she said. “It’s really a happy time for any couple, and we wish them all the best.”

Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, started dating after being introduced by a friend in July 2016, the couple said Monday in an interview with BBC News. Harry popped the question earlier this month as he and Markle were attempting to roast a chicken at their cottage at Kensington Palace.

>> Related: Prince Harry engaged to Meghan Markle

"It was just an amazing surprise," Markle told BBC News. "It was so sweet and natural and very romantic, he got on one knee."

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