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The Transatlantic Royal Wedding
You’ve probably heard by now that Prince Harry is getting married to Meghan Markle – the big day is Saturday May 19, and takes place at noon in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. We’ve put together some facts and information about the day so that you can show off to your British friends that you know more about the Royal Wedding than they do!
What about the venue?
St George’s Chapel is located inside Windsor Castle, the world’s oldest and largest lived-in castle. The chapel took 50 years to build (1485 -1528), and is a beautiful example of perpendicular (late-medieval) gothic architecture. It’s a working chapel of the Church of England with three services a day which members of the public can attend. Windsor Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in 1075, as a wooden motte and bailey castle on the site occupied by the present Round Tower. The Conqueror’s Castle was situated in a strategic defensible position, standing on a hill above a bend in the River Thames at the village of Windlesora, which once formed part of a Saxon royal hunting ground. The State Apartments are open to visitors. Windsor houses the major artworks in the royal collection which includes works by Holbein, da Vinci, Rubens, Rembrandt and van Dyck. The royal family visit Windsor frequently, the Queen regularly spends weekends there and it is used for ceremonial visits from Heads of State.
Medieval monarchs Henry VI and Edward IV are buried in the chapel as well as two very famous Kings, Henry VIII and Charles I. (Henry VIII is buried under the quire with his third and favorite wife, Jane Seymour the only wife to give him a son). Charles I who was executed after the Civil War in the 1640s is buried in the same vault. Since 1820 all monarchs have been buried at Windsor rather than Westminster Abbey in London: George III, George IV, William IV, Edward VII and the Queen’s parents George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. (Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and a number of their descendants are buried in the ornate mausoleum at Frogmore, in the grounds of Windsor Great Park, erected by Queen Victoria to her husband’s memory.)
It is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter. Founded by Edward III in 1348 at Windsor, it is the oldest and highest order of chivalry in the country. A personal gift of the sovereign, there are only 24 knights at any one time. The carved seats (stalls) where they sit are over 500 years old. Members are each assigned a stall in the chapel choir above which his or her heraldic devices are displayed. To visit St George’s Chapel you need to purchase a ticket to Windsor Castle or book a Blue Badge Tourist Guide for a Windsor Castle Tour.
Who else has married at St George’s Chapel, Windsor?
The precedent of St George’s Chapel for royal weddings was first established during Queen Victoria’s reign in 1863, when the first royal wedding there was celebrated between the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, in the presence of the widowed Queen. There have been a few since, not least the blessing of Prince Charles and Camilla’s marriage in April 2005; another transatlantic relationship when the Princess Royal’s son Peter Phillips wed Canadian Autumn Kelly back in May 2008 and there’s another already booked, Prince Andrew’s younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, in October.
One does not wed on a Weekend
The decision for the wedding to take place on a Saturday goes against tradition; Royal Weddings usually take place on a weekday (Prince William and Kate married on a Friday, the Queen and Prince Phillip on a Thursday). The Government decided not to grant a public holiday for Prince Harry and Meghan, so the Saturday schedule allows for the public to get more involved. It has been confirmed, however, that pubs will be allowed to stay open longer – until 1am on the nights of Friday 18 and Saturday 19 – so no reason not to toast the new couple.
Prince Harry Versus the FA Cup Final
The extended pub opening hours will also be handy for Soccer fans, many of whom will be eagerly awaiting the FA Cup Final at Wembley stadium. Prince William usually attends the match to present the trophy. As the FA Cup kicks off at 5:30pm, and the wedding service starts at noon, there would still be time for Prince William to attend the match. But would Prince William really want to be ‘that’ member of the wedding party who conspicuously leaves early to watch sport?
Plus, he’d miss American cake!
If Prince William did leave early, he’d miss a proper American baked cake. The Royal Wedding baker has been revealed as Claire Ptak, an American in London who was interviewed by Meghan Markle in The Tig (Meghan’s lifestyle blog). Ptak, who runs Violet Cakes in Hackney, will be baking a lemon and elderflower cake for the couple.
Another Transatlantic Touch
The American links don’t stop with the bride and the baker; another neat American touch to the wedding comes in the form of the invitations. Made by Barnard & Westwood, the invitations use American ink on English card. The invites were sent in March so if you’ve yet to receive one, probably best to avoid hoping …
Who is invited?
Around 600 guests will be in attendance from varying walks of life. One massive diplomatic headache was avoided when it was announced that Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne (or might be seventh by the time you’re reading this - the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s next child is due any day), wouldn’t be obliged to invite dignitaries – so there won’t be any awkward seating arrangements. As well as those attending the chapel service, more than 2000 guests have also been invited inside the grounds of Windsor Castle for the day, including 100 local school children and over 600 local residents. We guess it makes up for the noise the locals will have to endure. After the ceremony the couple will ride through Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage. With the Wedding televised around the world, this is the part of the article where we drily assert that the whole world is actually invited.
How can we watch on TV?
The Royal Wedding will be broadcast on television, and you can expect most of the major UK channels including the BBC to have some sort of coverage. Sky News have been running promos for a day of coverage.
What to drink whilst watching?
Well, tea, obviously, or for something more convivial, toast them with a crisp Californian white wine, or the British summer salad in a glass, Pimms no.1, with lemonade, ice, mint, lemon, orange, strawberries and cucumber - nearly your 5 a day.
What about the wedding gifts?
Kensington Palace announced in a statement that the couple would prefer charitable donations in lieu of gifts, and named several charities the pair are passionate about, including CHIVA (The Children’s HIV Association), Crisis (A UK Homeless Charity), the Myna Mahila Foundation (supporting women in Mumbai slums), Scotty’s Little Soldiers (which supports the children of bereaved Armed Forces families), StreetGames (a charity using sport for good), Surfers against Sewage and The Wilderness Foundation UK. We’re sure someone will be sending flowers too, though...
Best wishes to Prince Harry and Meghan for a lovely day, a fairytale wedding, and a long, happy married life. The Special Relationship personified!