LONDON — The royal spokesman for Kensington Palace briefed the world media Friday about the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and American TV actress Meghan Markle. To say there is global interest in the cake, hairdresser, guest list, florist, receptions, carriage, honeymoon — and, oh my gosh, the dress — does not begin to describe the scene.
More than 5,000 members of the media have been accredited. Imagine. The briefings — there were two, to accommodate both British and foreign journalists — were held in the Redgrave Room of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. We sat on red chairs. Water was served.
The first reveals?
Despite tabloid rumors to the contrary, Markle’s father will walk her down the aisle when she marries Harry on May 19.
Markle’s mother will accompany her daughter by car to the front door of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
So far, good vibes.
The actress’s mother, Doria Ragland, and father, Thomas Markle, divorced when Meghan was 6 years old.
We also learned that Markle’s mum and dad are to arrive in London before the wedding to meet the groom’s grandparents Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip; his father, Prince Charles; his stepmother, Camilla; and his brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Catherine.
Will Meghan’s siblings and half-siblings come? (There has been a bit of bother about that in the British tabloids — feelings of estrangement, it seems.)
No comment on this topic from the Kensington Palace spokesman, who by tradition is usually not identified.
Will the newest addition to the royal family be at the wedding?
Alas, little Louis will not be present.
“Sorry, no,” the spokesman said. The reporters groaned.
The spokesman felt it necessary to explain, “He’s very young.” (He was born almost two weeks ago.)
Harry will arrive with his brother, who will be his best man (but we already knew this).
A few surprises?
Markle will not have a maid of honor. The spokesman said that “she has a very close-knit group of friends, and she did not want to choose one over the other.”
Also: In a traditional royal wedding, which this one certainly will be, all of the bridesmaids and pageboys are children.
The media wanted to know: So, will Prince George or Princess Charlotte, the elder progeny of William and Catherine, serve as a pageboy and a bridesmaid?
The spokesman said this will be revealed anon.
Harry’s wedding naturally raises questions about his mother, who died in 1997 in a high-speed car crash in a Paris tunnel while she was being pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes.
The couple have said they want to “celebrate the memory” of Princess Diana at the wedding. All three of Diana’s siblings are invited, and Jane Fellowes, one of Diana’s two older sisters, will give a reading.
“Prince Harry and Ms. Markle both feel honored that Lady Jane will be representing her family and helping to celebrate the memory of the late princess on the wedding day,” the royal spokesman said.
Markle is to spend the night before the wedding in undisclosed lodgings at Windsor Castle, site of the wedding, which is about an hour’s drive west of central London.
Of course, the trip won’t be so quick on the day of the wedding.
The authorities expect large crowds, with road closures, packed trains and added security.
At the briefing, there were lots of details about logistics.
This promises to be an intensely covered global event. Thousands of reporters are expected to be there, alongside 79 international broadcasters and 46 U.S. television affiliates.
Many details will not be announced until the days before — or even the day of — the wedding. The royals are a vital brand, and their PR professionals are astute players who know how to keep interest alive.
For example, the palace is attempting to keep secret details about the dress, its manufacturer and designer. The spokesman said all will be revealed when Markle steps out of her car at St. George’s Chapel.
The service will last an hour, beginning at noon.
There will be 1,200 “guests” on the Windsor Castle grounds representing charitable groups and inspiring locals, whom Harry and Markle wanted to highlight.
There was a whiff of scandal when the Guardian reported that these guests — whom critics have described as living props or “extras” on an elaborate set — would not be fed but rather encouraged to bring their own picnics.
The palace said Friday that refreshments will be served, though it provided no details.
Inside the chapel will be 600 guests. They will attend the service and the reception that follows. A smaller, more private reception is to take place Saturday evening.
There will be no official guest list, as the invited do not include heads of state. Even British Prime Minister Theresa May did not make the cut. Guests were invited “because they have a direct relationship with the couple.”
All this — flowers, cake, receptions, carriages — will be paid for by the royal family. British taxpayers are shouldering the costs of security. Tourists will contribute much.
Harry and Meghan will quickly get to work being a royal married couple, with their first public appearance scheduled just a few days after the nuptials. They will leave for their honeymoon the following week.
To where? A mystery, people.
“We won’t ever comment,” the royal spokesman said.
Though one imagines that news will leak, as it almost always does.