We’re only a couple of months away from the conclusion of what’s turning out to be a real-life Hallmark movie — the May 19 wedding of Prince Harry and American actress turned humanitarian Meghan Markle — and the to-do list items are getting checked off in short order.
The latest detail to emerge: Despite the hype, former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama won’t be coming to the wedding after all.
“But the couples look forward to seeing each other soon,” according to ABC News. And the Daily Mail’s royal reporter quoted a Kensington Palace spokesman as saying “an official list of political leaders — both UK and international — is not required” for the wedding. That means not only no Obamas, but no President Trump or Prime Minister Theresa May.
Interest in the upcoming wedding is incredibly high, and the content of the guest list (aside from obvious family members) has turned into a big guessing game, full of rumors and clues. Did Harry invite Elton John, a close friend of Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana? We know that the Spice Girls apparently made the cut — Zig-a-zig-whaaa?!
While the royal family has always occupied an outsize place in the public spotlight, Harry is especially beloved by the public. He is fifth in line to the British throne, and his mother, Diana, was the most famous woman in the world at the time of her death in 1997. And his storybook-like romance with an American actress from Los Angeles best known for her role on USA’s “Suits” has captivated the public, both in England and the United States.
Their relationship generated such vitriol that Kensington Palace, in an unusual move, issued a blistering statement denounced racist and sexist coverage when the pair were still dating. (Markle’s mother is black.)
Since announcing their engagement, the couple has mostly been spotted at charitable events, and on Feb. 28, they appeared for the first time publicly alongside Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming nuptials.
When do I need to schedule all of my calendar alerts?
The wedding will take place at noon GMT — meaning 7 a.m. Eastern — on May 19. Set your alarms accordingly.
Where is this shindig?
(If you’re still trying to get yourself invited, probably best not to refer to the ceremony as a “shindig.”) It will take place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The Dean of Windsor, the Right Rev. David Conner, will conduct the service, and the Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will officiate as the couple make their wedding vows.
Harry was baptized in the chapel, which has also hosted several royal weddings, including those of Queen Victoria’s children and Prince Edward. Here’s a look inside:
How can us common folk catch a glimpse of the royal couple?
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, you may want to park yourself nearby. At about 1 p.m. GMT (8 a.m. Eastern), the newlyweds will hop in a carriage and go through Windsor Town along High Street and then return to Windsor Castle by the Long Walk.
“They 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 palace statement reads.
This carriage procession will probably be the public’s best chance to see the two on their wedding day.
How can I show my support via material means?
Like Prince William and Kate Middleton before them, Prince Harry and Markle have asked the public to donate to charities rather than buying them presents.
So you can nix that waffle-maker order.
The two “are incredibly grateful for the goodwill shown to them since the announcement of their engagement and are keen that as many people as possible benefit from this generosity of spirit,” Kensington Palace announced Monday. “The couple have therefore asked that anyone who might wish to mark the occasion considers making a donation to charity, rather than sending a wedding gift.”
The two have identified seven charities that reflect “their shared values” they’d like their well-wishers to support. These organizations focus on “sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces.”
The palace also made clear that the two “do not have any formal relationships with the charities chosen.” The groups are: Children’s HIV Association, Crisis, Myna Mahila Foundation, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, StreetGames, Surfers Against Sewage and the Wilderness Foundation UK.
I wish to learn more about the flowers
Floral designer Philippa Craddock will oversee a team to create the displays in St. George’s Chapel and St. George’s Hall. They’ll use seasonal plants and flowers that bloom naturally in May — including beech, birch, hornbeam, white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves — as well as pollinator-friendly plants from the Royal Parks’ wildflower meadows. Flowers will be given to charitable organizations after the big day.
“The designs will reflect the wild and natural landscapes from which many of the plants will be drawn,” according to the palace. The pollinator-friendly plants “provide a great habitat for bees and help to nurture and sustain entire ecosystems by promoting a healthy and biodiverse environment.”
A lot of the flowers in the St. George’s Chapel displays will come from the gardens and parkland of the Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park.
About those classy invitations
The palace in March that the invitations had been sent, setting off frantic mailbox monitoring for these beauties:
About 600 people were reportedly sent invites to the ceremony and a lunchtime reception given by Queen Elizabeth II. The palace announced that around 200 people are invited to a reception at Frogmore House thrown by Harry’s father, Charles, the Prince of Wales.
The official invites feature the “Three-Feathered Badge of the Prince of Wales printed in gold ink,” the palace announced. “Using American ink on English card, the invitations are printed in gold and black, then burnished to bring out the shine, and gilded around the edge.”
Barnard & Westwood, the bookbinders and printing press behind the invites, has been making royal invitations since 1985. Lottie Small used die stamping to print the invites, “a process she affectionately nicknamed Maude.”
What will they be eating?
Royal weddings usually mean royal fruitcake, which, gross. Thank goodness this pair is bucking tradition in favor of flavor, because can you imagine actually eating a royal fruitcake during your watch party?
Instead, they’ve asked Claire Ptak, a California-born and now London-based pastry chef, to “create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavours of spring,” the palace said in March. “It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.”
Markle knows Ptak, having interviewed her before for her lifestyle website, The Tig. The pastry chef, who owns Violet Cakes in London, “focuses on using seasonal and organic ingredients in her cakes,” the palace announced. “Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are looking forward to sharing the cake with guests at their wedding at Windsor Castle on May 19th.” Geez, how big is that cake gonna be?
Okay, guest list. Whom can I expect?
Regular people! Sort of. A lucky 2,640 very vetted individuals will receive invitations to be inside the walls of Windsor Castle on the big day. But many of them will be chosen by the Lord Lieutenant offices. Other guests include neighbors of Windsor Castle, pupils from a couple of local schools and people from charities supported by the couple.
Getting inside the chapel, which fits about 800, is another matter. Aside from the obvious royal names and family, there has mostly been a lot of speculation about potential high-profile guests.
We do know of at least five who made the cut: all of the Spice Girls. That’s according to Mel B, who mentioned coyly in February that she’s attending the royal affair. “I’m going,” she whispered on the daytime talk show “The Real” before adding, “I don’t know if I should have said that.” But she isn’t divulging about a Spice Girls performance at the reception; when asked, she threw her hands up in the air and simply said, “I need to go — I’m going to get fired.”
As far as other guests, let the guessing begin! Many people speculated that the Obamas would make the cut, as Harry and former president Barack Obama have hung out a bunch over the years, but the former first couple will be not be attending.
Serena Williams, who is tennis royalty, is a friend of Markle’s. The Foo Fighters have been mentioned in British tabloids. (The band played at Harry’s Invictus Games in 2014.) And Elton John has rescheduled two shows that originally fell on the wedding weekend. His reasoning? A “scheduling conflict.”
What else is happening?
Yes, they’re following a lot of traditions, but this won’t be a stuffy wedding.
“It will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the character of the bride and groom,” their spokesman has said. “The couple of course want the day to be a special, celebratory moment for their friends and family. They also want the day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too and are currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved.”
After the ceremony and carriage procession, the couple and guests will head to St. George’s Hall for a reception given by the queen. Later that night, Prince Charles will host a private reception for the newlyweds and their close friends and family.
What’s left on the to-do list? Can I help?
So, Markle has already been reportedly baptized and confirmed in the Church of England in a private ceremony, according to the Daily Mail. She attended Catholic school as a child and identified as Protestant.
Royal officials have said Markle also intends to become a British citizen.
“We’re pretty tied up with planning a wedding at the moment,” Harry said at a Royal Foundation event in February. Still planning! But the palace has confirmed that the royal family will cover the costs of the wedding. And, E! News reported that Markle already had a bridal shower.
So, no, you can’t help.
A dramatized version of this love story is relevant to my interests. Anything out there for me?
Why, yes! Production began in February on a Lifetime original movie, “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” starring Murray Fraser and Parisa Fitz-Henley. It will air May 13 — just before the big day. Here’s a teaser to hold you over:
This post, originally published March 1, has been updated.