At noon on Saturday, Prince Harry and Suits actress Meghan Markle wed, and it was a spectacle viewed by an estimated 1.9 million television viewers worldwide. If you weren’t awake and glued to your screens at 7 a.m. Eastern Time this weekend, I’m here to give you the highlights.
The couple, who met on a blind date in July 2016 and got engaged in Nov. 2017, wed in St. George’s chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, about 20 miles outside of London. Meghan and Harry opted for children to serve as bridesmaids rather than adults, a decision that made me incredibly jealous that I’m not a six year-old with close ties to the bride or groom. Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who are already the luckiest children in the world, stole the show as young members of the wedding party, with Duchess Kate chaperoning and Prince William serving as Harry’s best man.
The wedding also drew some non-royal celebrities with appearances from American and British stars. Oprah was in attendance, looking stunning in a pink Stella McCartney dress with a vintage Philip Treacy hat, and the entire cast of Suits showed up to support Meghan, who will definitely be too busy being the Duchess of Sussex to continue sipping wine on the show. David Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, Idris Elba, and Serena Williams were also at the wedding, and I made a mental note to never invite anyone that attractive to my own nuptials.
Though the ceremony was a joyous occasion, the solemn memory of Harry’s mother Princess Diana hung in the air. British florist Philippa Craddock orchestrated a massive display of white peonies and garden roses, and Harry hand-picked Meghan’s bouquet before the ceremony, choosing to include forget-me-nots, his late mother’s favorite flowers. Previously, Harry had also included diamonds from Diana’s personal jewelry collection in the engagement ring, which he designed himself. He said in a BBC interview last year that Meghan and Diana would have been “thick as thieves, without a question.” In more heart-melting homages to his mother, Harry asked Diana’s sister, Lady Jane Fellows, to give a lay reading at the ceremony, and Elton John, one of Diana’s best friends, performed at the lunch reception afterwards.
Another subtle nod at Diana’s legacy appeared in Meghan’s wedding dress, complete with a 16-foot veil similar to the one Diana wore to marry Prince Charles in 1981. The boat-necked Givenchy number was a simple, modern dress that I will now spend the rest of my life trying to copy exactly. Prince Harry apparently agreed: as soon as Meghan stepped up to the altar, cameras caught him whispering “you look amazing” followed by a lip bite and an “I’m so lucky,” a moment that will be rightfully GIFed for the rest of eternity.
Meghan and Harry’s love story is one of fairytale-esque perfection, but it’s also a significant moment in British history in all the ways the event departed from the normal royal wedding. The couple opted for a lemon and elderflower flavored cake rather than the customary fruitcake (a decision that was probably motivated by a desire to serve edible food rather than a noble effort to buck tradition). Rather than most of the pageboys and bridesmaids hailing from royal lines, as they had in the past, eight out of sixteen of them came from Meghan’s side. Meghan walked herself down the first half of the long aisle, and was eventually joined by Prince Charles after days of will-he-won’t-he debate about her father Thomas’s decision to not attend the ceremony due to health concerns. Though the wedding’s $45 million budget was probably out of the realm of possibility for most couples, maybe the decision to include less royal blood in the wedding party marks a future of a less elitist royal tradition.
The bride herself also departed from tradition. We need only look at Diana and Charles’ 1981 ceremony or William and Kate’s 2011 union to realize that royal weddings are historically white. Meghan, whose father is white and mother is black, said in a BBC interview that she found the media’s obsession with her ethnicity “disheartening,” but still chose to include elements of black culture in the wedding. The sermon was given by Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American head of the Episcopal church, and included references to Martin Luther King, Jr. A full Gospel choir performed “Stand by Me,” and the couple left the chapel to “This Little Light of Mine,” a song that became symbolic during the Civil Rights movement. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a black 19 year-old cellist and the BBC’s 2016 Young Musician of the Year, gave a moving performance, and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, arrived at the wedding rocking dreadlocks, the picture of a proud black woman celebrating her daughter. These moments of blackness in a royal family that often seems bleach-white are small steps, but I’m hopeful that they will eventually turn into something more.
The royal wedding was an expensive, pompous affair, and maybe it’s not the most important thing happening in the world right now. In a year that seems marked by global bad news, violence, and intolerance, however, I appreciated the opportunity to pause with the rest of the world and celebrate love (even if it meant waking up at 7 a.m.).
Image Credits: Alexi Lubomirski, Kensington Palace via AP