The procession, the reception, the castle – here’s everything you need to know as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tie the knot
Take one prince and one American actor, add lashings of pageantry, souvenir shops and bunting to make that most British of jamborees – a royal wedding
Prince Harry, sixth in line to the British throne, and Meghan Markle, actor and activist, are getting married at Windsor Castle – weekend home to Harry’s grandmother, the Queen – on Saturday 19 May.
Visitors will throng the historic town centre from early in the morning (the very keen will be there already), waiting for a wave from the couple from the horse-drawn carriage procession that follows the ceremony.
The day itself will unfold in fairly conventional fashion. Here’s what to watch out for. All times local.
Crowds will line the streets
The faces that launched a thousand souvenirs
Midday BST: the wedding ceremony, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
The wedding takes place in a chapel that dates back to 1475 and has seen more than its fair share of royal baptisms, marriages and deaths.
Prince Harry was christened there aged three months in 1984. His father and Camilla Parker-Bowles used the venue in 2005 for a televised blessing of their civil marriage. Other royal nuptials to have taken place there include Harry’s uncle, Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, and his cousin Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly in 2008.
If the royal standard is flying then the Queen’s at home
A statue of Queen Victoria outside Windsor Castle
The wedding party
The Duke of Cambridge takes on best man duties, a role Harry performed at William’s own marriage to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in 2011. Their two older children, three-year-old Princess Charlotte and four-year-old Prince George, are among six young bridesmaids and four page boys. It is not yet clear who – if anyone – will accompany the bride down the aisle, given the documented difficulties her father has had with the press and his health this week. Her mother, Doria Ragland, will attend.
A congregation of 600 invited guests will hear a service conducted by the Rt Rev David Conner, the dean of Windsor, while the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will officiate as the couple say their vows. The address will be given by the Most Rev Michael Curry, the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal church in the US.
Inside and outside St George’s Chapel
Photos: Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty Images
Choirs, soloists and musicians – including the Kingdom Choir, a Christian gospel group, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a 19-year-old cellist who won BBC Young Musician of the year in 2016 – will perform well-known hymns and choral works. Trumpeters from the Household Cavalry, with whom Harry served in Afghanistan, will also play.
The gothic church will be decorated with seasonal flowers and plants from the surrounding royal parkland, including branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, as well as white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves, all designed by Philippa Craddock, a Chelsea-based luxury florist.
Outside, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, will be 2,640 members of the public invited by Harry and Meghan to watch their arrival at the chapel and departure of the carriage procession. This group, who were advised to bring their own picnic lunch, includes young people, charity workers and community organisers from all over the UK, as well as representatives of charities associated with the couple, local schoolchildren and employees of the royal family.
1pm BST: carriage procession through Windsor
After the ceremony Harry and Meghan will take to an open-topped, horse-drawn carriage – an Ascot landau – for a procession around Windsor town centre. Crowds will line a route from St George’s Chapel, down Castle Hill on to High Street, through the town to Sheet Street, Kings Road, Albert Road, then along the Long Walk back to the gates of Windsor Castle.
There will be big screens and food stalls for those choosing to watch as the carriage, pulled by Windsor Grey horses, travels along the Long Walk. This 2.5-mile avenue of London plane and horse chestnut trees, originally planted under Charles II in 1680, is the most picturesque section of the procession.
View from the Long Walk towards King George IV Gate
Windsor Grey horses draw a carriage
Preparing the Long Walk for the big day
Lunchtime reception, St George’s Hall
After the carriage procession the newlyweds will join their wedding guests at a lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen in St George’s Hall inside Windsor Castle.
The hall, traditionally used to host state banquets, was badly damaged by the fire that broke out in 1992. It’s all spruced up now, though.
St George’s Hall ready for 600 guests
Photos: Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty Images
Guests will tuck into a lemon elderflower cake covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. The cake is the creation of Claire Ptak, the American-born owner of Hackney-based Violet Cakes.
Evening reception, Frogmore House
Photo: Alexi Lubomirski/Getty Images
A second reception for family and close friends, hosted by the Prince of Wales, will take place at Frogmore House, a 17th-century property within the Home Park, an area of private parkland within the Windsor estate. This is where Harry and Meghan posed for their official engagement photographs, but given this will be where the real partying takes place on Saturday, it’s safe to assume cameras will be most unwelcome.
Bunting flutters in the summer breeze