Where to begin? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – or rather, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – are married! The ceremony went off without a hitch (but with a few great new family anecdotes) at St George’s Chapel, Windsor and the bride wore Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, which no one guessed ahead of time.
Let’s start at the beginning:
First Things First
In the wee hours of the morning slash last night depending on your geography, Kensington Palace released the service order for today’s ceremony. It was printed before the announcement that Meghan’s father wouldn’t be able to attend and made it clear that Meghan would in fact be referred to as “Meghan” and not her given name “Rachel” during the ceremony. It also became clear that Harry, unlike his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, will wear a wedding ring.
As expected, the Queen bestowed a new title on her grandson this morning: the dukedom of Sussex. Meghan will be the first Duchess of Sussex in history since the title’s last holder, George III’s son, Prince Augustus, was married twice without permission and as such his wives never had the honor.
Hours before the ceremony began, guests began trickling into the Chapel answering a lot of questions (and frankly raising even more than we knew we had). First off, I heard George and Amal Clooney were coming late last night thanks to Meghan and Amal sharing a hairdresser, but I did not see that one coming.
Other actors and celebrities in the mix today were Carey Mulligan, the cast of Suits, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Serena Williams, David and Victoria Beckham and Priyanka Chopra.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, and her husband, James Matthews, were spotted, as was their younger brother, James Middleton. Their parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, were also invited.
As expected, Diana, Princess of Wales’s siblings were on hand. Earl Spencer, his wife and a smattering of his children, including Lady Kitty Spencer turned up. Later on, Lady Jane Fellowes gave a reading.
The Extended Royal Family
The Duke of York’s ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, arrived solo, answering the question as to whether she would attend with the Duke. No.
Members of the Royal Family soon began to follow, with some arriving by car and others, presumably those who spent last night at Windsor Castle, by foot. Among them was the Princess Royal and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (the latter couple is rumored to be giving up their apartments in KP for the Sussexes).
The Princess Royal’s daughter, Zara Tindall, and her husband, Mike, were there. Both are extremely close with Harry and are expecting their second child in about six weeks.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex were there, as well as their two children, Lady Louise and Viscount Severn.
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York turned up looking far more understated than they did for the Cambridges’ wedding in 2011. Frankly, I was expecting a bit more of a hat from Beatrice, but I suppose this shows growth.
In just five months’ time it will be Eugenie’s turn at this very chapel when she marries Jack Brooksbank.
Movement to the Chapel
At 11:20 GMT, about 40 minutes before the ceremony, Meghan and her mother left Cliveden, where they spent last night, to travel to the Chapel in a vintage Rolls-Royce limousine. This gave us our first glimpse of the dress and made it clear that, yes, Meghan opted to wear a tiara, a full veil and the gown features a boatneck.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry and William showed up to the Chapel in Blues and Royals frockcoat uniform and on foot, and just moments after that Meghan’s car made its way down the Long Walk.
The bride was all smiles, waving at the crowds who gathered this morning (and camped out last night).
Doria Ragland was greeted by the Dean of Windsor and made her way inside ahead of the procession. She looked beautiful in an Oscar de la Renta get up and frankly seeing both her and Meghan’s faces was one of the more emotional moments this morning.
Minutes later, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived, just as Harry took his place in the Chapel.
Harry looked beyond nervous in the lead up to the ceremony and it brought back memories of William seven years earlier. That time around, if memory serves, both men took a quick moment off to the side for the groom to collect himself, and while Harry stayed put, you could tell he was a ball of nerves.
Per protocol, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were the last to arrive. True to form, she wore an eye-catching lime green.
The Wedding Party
Because Meghan declined to name a Maid of Honour, a handful of the bridesmaids’ and page boys’ mothers helped usher the children into the Chapel. This included, of course, the Duchess of Cambridge who helped walk in Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
She wore a yellow ensemble by Alexander McQueen. It’s a designer she usually chooses for headliner moments, but in this case it was a nice nod to her own moment as a royal bride.
At 12:01 GMT Meghan finally arrived at the Chapel (her mother having departed her by this point, per the above). As such, there was a quick moment of bated breath as the bride had to manage getting herself out the car in that gown – with that veil! – all by herself.
The dress is beautiful – Givenchy, long-sleeved and simple.
Her tiara is a bandeau on loan from the Queen.
Her veil, which was markedly long and cathedral-worthy, was held by Brian and John Mulroney, the twin sons of her good friend, Jessica.
Meghan walked the nave by herself, which has been touted as quite the feminist statement, but to be clear, this was always the plan.
At the Quire she was met by Charles, who escorted her the rest of the way to an emotional Harry.
I think royal reporter Rebecca English is on to something with the below tweet:
When the couple met at the altar, Harry (per lip readers, thank you Daily Mail), told Meghan, “You look amazing. I missed you,” and to his father, “Thank you, Pa.” I die.
The Archbishop of Canterbury asked, “Harry, will you take Meghan to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?” Cheers sounded from outside and prompted laughter from the congregation, which I think was needed to break the nerves and acknowledgement of what a big occasion this was.
It happened again when Meghan answered in kind.
Per The Telegraph:
The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, gave an address titled the Power of Love at the service in St George’s Chapel.
He opened his speech with the words of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who said: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
The bishop then added: “There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalise. There is power, power in love.”
Bishop Curry told the service: “There’s power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”
Such power could be seen in the service, he continued, saying: “Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.” The Episcopal Church is the US offshoot of the Church of England and forms part of the broader Anglican Communion. Meghan was baptised into the Anglican Church, which is headed by Harry’s grandmother.
As BBC said in the background, it’s unlikely a royal wedding or St George’s Chapel ever featured an address like that. Based on the expressions on William’s and Kate’s faces – and some looks of astonishment from Zara Tindall – it was a new one for them too. I was, however, less than impressed by what came across as smirking from William, which is his default when he’s amused.
And then, like that, it was vows and the couple were married. Unsurprisingly, Meghan – like Kate – opted not to promise to “obey.” This is always a bit of a question mark in royal services.
“That was a service and a half, wasn’t it” asked the BCC. Yup. The couple were followed by their bridesmaids and page boys out of the chapel and gave us their first kiss at the doors.
The Royal Family lined up see the couple off, while Harry helped Meghan in to the carriage they rode in for a 25-minute jaunt down the Long Walk and through the town.
More images from the carriage ride:
William, Kate & George:
While Harry and Meghan rode through Windsor, the Royal Family stood on the steps of the Chapel offering some of our best group shots yet. (More will be coming this week when the official photographs are released).
And finally this: