“It was spectacular,” Jayne Ralph, 50, a retail manager from Vancouver, said of the moment the newlyweds passed by. Though she suggested it would have been nice if other royals could have driven by and offered a wee wave.
The royal wedding by the numbers
200 Amalfi lemons went into the wedding cake
16 feet of silk tulle made up the bride’s veil
10 pint-size bridesmaids and page boys participated in the ceremony
175 years since there was another Duke of Sussex
7 charities were chosen by the couple for donations in lieu of gifts
5,000 members of the media received credentials
They pass through the floral arch. They pause, and Harry leans in and Meghan leans in and the couple kisses.
They board the Ascot Landau carriage. Prince Charles waves goodbye. The long wedding dress train is addressed. The father-and-son Windsor Grey horses begin to pull them out into the town ...
8:07 a.m.: God save the Queen
Everyone rises! And belts out the British national anthem.
“God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
As soon as Meghan Markle becomes a British citizen, as she plans to be, Elizabeth II will be not only her grandmum-in-law but her sovereign.
Markle repeats the vow. “I Meghan, take you, Harry, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part ...”
There's a real strain of Americaness, of the African American experience, in this service.
Now comes Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir singing the classic “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King, and once upon a time covered by John Lennon.
The Most Reverend Michael Curry performs a rousing address.
Bishop Curry is the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church.
“There's power in love,” he tells the couple, who are seated and holding hands.
“We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant to be lived with that love,” he says.
Playing off the style of a classic American black preacher, he does an amazing, theatrical discourse on the power of love — to heal wounds, to end poverty, to guide government. On BBC, there are cutaways to the look on the prim and proper faces of royals.
As he closes, he says has to close, “we gotta get ya'll married.”
“Well, that was forceful ...," says the BBC announcer.
7:16 a.m.: Princess Diana's sister
The Lady Jane Fellowes, the late Princess Diana’s older sister, reads a classic wedding passage from the Bible’s Song of Solomon.
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave …”
And some more bits about flashes of fire, a raging flame and unquenchable love.
7:13 a.m.: “The Declarations”
The guests are standing and led in “The Declarations.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury says:
“First, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these person may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.”
This is always an awkward moment.
There is silence. Meghan Markle smiles.
Harry and Meghan also declare their love, and faithfulness — but these are not yet the coming vows.
7:07 a.m.: Markle walks down the aisle
The service begins with a musical fanfare by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. As Markle begins to process down the aisle, the orchestra plays George Frederick Handel’s “Eternal Source of Life Divine,” sung by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas.
7:03 a.m.: Inside the chapel
Markle's mother Doria Ragland has been seated. Harry and William are sitting side-by-side inside the chapel gate, Harry looking slightly nervous. The bridesmaids and page boys arrive, looking cute as heck.
Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwell, Camilla Parker Bowles, enter the chapel.
Charles will walk Markle partway down the aisle.
Prince Charles walks Meghan Markle down the aisle. (UK Pool/Sky News via AP)
7:00 a.m.: The reveal of the dress
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress was designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director at the French fashion house Givenchy.
Markle and Keller worked closely together on the design, we are told.
The fashion house tweeted that the dress was “inspired by all 12 signs of the Zodiac, the Zodiac Signs collection features artisanally carved rings and earrings to convey the wearer’s character.”
Here's the verdict from Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan:
The dress isn’t everything but it is a lot. And the Givenchy haute couture gown chosen by Meghan Markle for her marriage to Prince Harry told a story about contemporary romance, geopolitical history and the institution into which she has married. But mostly, most importantly, it offered a bit of insight into the bride herself.
The sleek white gown, with its six strategically placed seams, was stitched from a heavy silk with a subtle sheen. A simple bateau neckline gracefully framed her face. The body of the dress subtly outlined her waist and flowed into a full train. But what was most noticeable were all the things that the dress was not. It was not a Hollywood red carpet statement. It was not a Disney princess fantasy. It was not a mountain of camouflaging tulle and chiffon.
The dress was free of extravagant embellishments. It was not covered in yards of delicate lace. It did not have a single ruffle — no pearls or crystals. Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its confident restraint. It was a romantic dress, but one that suggested a clear-eyed understanding that a real-life romance is not the stuff of fairy tales. The dress was a backdrop; it was in service to the woman.
6:42 a.m.: Princes Harry and William arrive
The red-bearded Prince Harry marches in a happy gait toward the chapel's West Door, alongside his best man, his older brother and second in line to the throne, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Both Harry and Will are wearing the uniforms of the Blues and Royals.
Bespoke, cut and sewn by hand, Harry's frock coat is made of blue doeskin, in a single breasted style, with figured braiding. He is wearing his Pilots' Wings and a medal honoring his service as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
Next up: the dress reveal. In the press room at Windsor, of course, we know what it is. But there are armed guards outside.
6:30 a.m.: Meghan Markle is on her way
Meghan Markle and her mum, Doria Ragland, have left nearby Cliveden House for the drive to Windsor Castle. The pair are being driven in a well-waxed vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom IV. Through the window, there's a glimpse of the dress. It is white. Details to follow. On her veiled head, Markle wears a diamond bandeau.
6:28 a.m.: Move over Princess Beatrice: There’s a new hat queen in town.
One of the true delights of any British wedding is watching out for British hats. As expected, there has been some stiff competition on the streets of Windsor today. But this hat, which has a swan perched on top, stands out.
Debbie Hoover, from Amarillo, Tex., says she has always been “fascinated” by the royal family, and, for her 50th birthday, decided to take in the royal wedding festivities. She had heard that Queen Elizabeth II owned all of the swans in Britain, so searched for a swan hat online. “I was hoping it would get some attention,” she says. “It sure has.”
6:04 a.m.: Serena Williams primps
A couple hours before the wedding, tennis star Serena Williams posted photographs of herself on Instagram getting ready for the day — wrapped in a towel, having a facial.
She showed off the results a minute ago.
5:55 a.m.: Elton John is here
Elton John strolls by. It is rumored he may perform at one of the two receptions to follow the wedding service. (He sang “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral for Prince Harry's mother, Princess Diana.) Inside the chapel, the press pool cameras are lingering on the Clooneys, especially Amal, in a lemony gold dress and hat. Almost all the women are dressed in hats. The men are divided: some in suits, others in traditional morning coats with vests.
5:43 a.m.: Inside the castle walls
Scott Ross is a leader of the Royal Air Force cadets. He and his wife, Nicola, drove down from Scotland to take a seat on the castle lawn. They're among the 2,640 members of the public invited inside the walls. A 10-hour drive? “It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Ross says. He notes that it will be a long time before Prince William and Catherine's little kids are old enough to wed.
5:30 a.m.: The Clooneys and the Beckhams
Just seeing the Clooneys now — the actor George, the human rights lawyer Amal — getting off the bus and walking to the chapel entrance. Right behind them are David and Victoria Beckham, the soccer star and his former Spice Girl.
Kensington Palace just told us hacks:
Harry and Meghan chose Cleave and Company to make their wedding rings. Markle's ring “has been fashioned from a piece of Welsh Gold, gifted by Her Majesty The Queen. Prince Harry's ring will be a Platinum Band with a textured finish.”
4:58 a.m. Prayer for the day
The Church of England has let us know the special prayer for the day:
send your blessings upon Harry and Meghan,
and all who are joined in marriage,
that, rejoicing in your will
and continuing under your protection,
they may both live and grow
in your love all their days,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
4:47 a.m.: Oprah makes her entrance.
Among the guests now entering the chapel is global media personalty Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah is wearing lilac dress with sunglasses and a large hat. She is seated in the A-list section in the chapel's quire.
4:39 a.m.: The scene at St. George's Chapel
You say “chapel,” you may think small, intimate. But St George’s Chapel, completed by Henry VIII in 1528, is a soaring masterpiece — of what we are told is a classic of the “perpendicular gothic” style. The Washington Post and colleagues were given a quick peek insider for “atmospherics.” The floral arrangements are a wild meadow of aromatic whites: mayflowers and dusky cranebills. The towering arrangements were designed by the florist Philippa Craddock as a “cascading hedgerow.” Smells heavenly.
4:18 a.m.: Does this woman look like Meghan Markle?
That’s what one person thought. He approached Layla Morris, 38, who works in credit control, and asked if she was the actress from “Suits.” As a fan of “Suits,” herself, Morris was amused. “I watched all of Suits. Meghan stood out. She as the girl you wanted to be,” she says.
She lives 90 minutes away and brought her children, 7 and 3, to Windsor to soak up the atmosphere. “They are very excited, but can’t understand why they are not invited.”
4:08 a.m.: Not everyone is royal wedding mad
Let’s be clear: Much of this city is royal wedding crazy. The dogs are wearing Union Jack-themed scarves, for heaven’s sake. But venture off the main streets around Windsor Castle, and you’ll find residents whose thoughts on the wedding can best be described as meh.
“It’s just another day. I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” says Leon Johnson, 34, a gas engineer who is pushing a buggy near water fountains that barefoot children were gleefully running through.
He wishes the royal couple well, for sure, and says that Markle’s background “broke the mold” of what it meant to be a royal. (She's a biracial American divorcée with an established career.) But he says that the vendors selling royal souvenirs on the main streets around the castle are “a moneymaking scam.”
Will he least turn on the telly to catch a glimpse of the global spectacle on his doorstep?
He might “take a little peak,” he says, but stresses he wouldn’t linger long. “There is football on!”
Today is the FA Cup final, with Chelsea playing Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London.
4:03 a.m.: “It means a lot in terms of race relations”
Marzy Bedford-Billinghurst, 60, an American who grew up in Britain and now lives in Washington, says that once she heard about the wedding, as a black woman who has biracial children, she decided she had to come.
“It means a lot in terms of race relations,” she says. That the fact that the royal family, “of all entities, would modernize themselves and embrace this woman of color because the prince loves her — that just means so much to me. I’m just overjoyed. I think she’s just wonderful, fabulous and I’m just so excited.”
3:52 a.m.: It's five o'clock somewhere
Craig Skinner, 28, (left) and Alex Cox, 28, (right) are sipping gin and tonics. When asked what they are drinking, Cox responds: “Want one?”
This is Cox’s second royal wedding, but the first one he’s watching from the ground. At William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, he was one of those riding a horse as part of the Household Cavalry, a personal escort for the royal family. “It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress,” he said, noting this time he is happy to just enjoy “all the good British pomp and ceremony” as a spectator.
3:46 a.m.: The scene from sun-kissed Windsor
Windsor is a gorgeous city, with Windsor Castle, the queen’s weekend residence, towering dramatically over the scene. Today, the sun-kissed city looks something like a festival: There are bubble machines, dogs wearing scarves, people of all ages wearing fake crowns. Many people camped out overnight to get the best view of the carriage procession.
Street vendors are hawking British flags and American flags. There are ladies with ridiculously fabulous hats that look like small UFOs. The local Marks & Spencer has (temporarily?) changed its name to Markle & Sparkle. A local pub has permanently changed its name to the “Prince Harry.” If Harry & Meghan-themed merchandise is your thing — everything from tea-towels to life-size cardboard cutouts of the smiling couple — this is the place to be.
3:44 a.m.: Who has traveled farthest for this wedding?
Peter McFarlane, 52, a health aide from Australia could be a contender for that title. We have met people who have flown in from the United States, Canada and Jamaica, but McFarlane hopped on a “27-hour bloody flight” from Australia to be at — or nearish — the nuptials. He slept on the street on Friday night, where it was “bloody freezy, this bloody English summer,” in hopes of keeping his prime position to see the carriage procession.
He wanted to come in person since, he figured, this was the last royal wedding for some time. “I had to make the effort,” he said, waving Union Jack flags in each hand.
3:23 a.m.: Inside the castle walls
Harry and Meghan invited 2,640 “regular” folk to attend the wedding and watch from the gardens inside the Windsor Castle walls. These guests represent charities the couple, especially Harry, has supported over the years — like Surfers against Sewage, and environmental and veterans groups.
Alan Scott, 69, from Lincolnshire has been involved in British Scouting for 45 years. He and his partner set up lawn chairs outside St George’s Chapel. “Splendid!” Scott said. “I think it’s amazing that we are all invited.”
Scott brought a picnic hamper of pork pies. “And some champagne,” said his partner, Julie Frisby.
2:41 a.m.: Paper crowns and plastic tiaras
The streets of Windsor town are lined with Harry and Meghan fans, wearing paper crowns and plastic tiaras. Some have spent the night camped out.
Security is tight. Specialist squads of police hefting automatic rifles stand sentry by the statute of the late Queen Victoria outside the Henry VIII gate to Windsor Castle.
Vendors selling royal wedding “tat” — British slang for souvenirs — are doing brisk business.
2:30 a.m.: Welcome to our live coverage
You want regal pageantry, gilded spectacle, the royal Ascot Landau carriage pulled by a pair of father-and-son Windsor Grey horses? The Archbishop of Canterbury bedecked in his robes, the St. George’s Chapel Choir belting out the choral anthems to the rafters? Then good morning to you.
Britain's Prince Harry is set to wed American actress Meghan Markle, and they'll be treating us to full-on fairy tale, complete with a pint-size prince and princess as page boy and bridesmaid.
Markle will be driven from Cliveden House manor to the medieval masterwork of St. George’s Chapel, within the walls of Windsor Castle, where she will be warmly welcomed by a polite backdrop of 1,200 invited do-gooders from favored charities.
There will be the Reveal of the Dress. The Kensington Palace PR squad will blast the details. Then Prince Charles, Harry’s father, will walk his future daughter-in-law down the aisle. (Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, has been sidelined by heart problems and media-induced stress.)
Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church, is to deliver a sermon. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will lead the couple in vows from the Book of Common Prayer.
Immediately afterward, the couple, who will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will parade by carriage through the streets of Windsor town, where as many as 100,000 Brits and foreign visitors will be wearing outrageous hats and waving Union Jacks and the Stars and Stripes to celebrate the ultimate in special relationships: Harry’s royal marriage to a California girl.
We'll have live coverage. Follow our updates here.
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