Britain's Prince Harry and American actor Meghan Markle are set to marry Saturday in the British city of Windsor. For many fans, it is a fairy-tale romance.
The 36-year-old Markle does not fit the traditional image of a British princess, said Richard Fitzwilliams, an expert on the royal family.
"Meghan is an American biracial divorcee who is an activist, a feminist and former actress.”
In the past, those facts might have barred her from marrying Prince Harry.
"Now, they're being positively welcomed."
Markle and Harry, who is 33, began dating in 2016. They reportedly met in Canada, although not much is known about their early relationship. The couple announced their engagement last November at London's Kensington Palace, where Harry and his older brother were raised.
The wedding details
Invitations were sent to about 600 of the couple’s friends and family. Many government officials are also invited.
Weather experts have said they expect a mostly sunny day for the royal wedding.
Sunshine would be helpful, as the couple has chosen to ride in an open vehicle, a carriage, for the parade following the ceremony.
Four horses will pull the carriage from Windsor Castle through the town center and back for the wedding celebration. Thousands of people are expected to line the sides of the road and watch.
Around 80 international broadcasters, including some from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, are expected to report on the wedding. More than 5,000 British and foreign media and support employees have permission to cover the action in Windsor. The town is a little less than 200 kilometers from London.
Millions of people around the world are expected to watch the day’s events on television or online. Many plan to hold or attend parties to watch the press coverage.
But, Harry is believed to have a deep mistrust of the media. His mother, Princess Diana, died of injuries from a car crash in 1997. A news photographer on a motorcycle was chasing the car she and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayyad, were in. Fayyad was killed as well.
Duncan Larcombe, writer of the book “Prince Harry: The Inside Story,” told Town and Country magazine: “In Harry’s mind, it was the press that killed his mother.”
Harry, one of the least traditional young royals, has chosen a most traditional place to marry. St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle has seen many royal weddings. A number of children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria were married there.
The town of Windsor has been preparing. Roads have been repaired and smoothed, street signs are being repainted, and stores are stocked with royal wedding-related products.
Phillip Bicknell is Windsor’s town councilor.
“Everything is now in place, we’re 99.9 percent of the way there,” he said. He expects more than 100,000 people will come to the town for the event if the weather is good.
He said, “We believe this is going to be the biggest number of people fitting into Windsor for any event. It’s going to be quite tight, but the atmosphere will be electric.”
Along with the 600 guests invited to the ceremony in St. George’s Chapel, another 2,640 are invited to be on the grounds at Windsor Castle.
The wedding party
Kensington Palace officials said Wednesday that Henry’s nephew and niece, four-year-old George and three-year-old Charlotte, will take part in the ceremony. They are the two oldest children of Harry’s brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Kate Middleton. The couple’s third child, Prince Louis, was born last month and will not be attending.
Ten children in all will have roles in the service.
Prince William will be Prince Harry’s best man. Markle has chosen not to have a maid of honor for the ceremony.
Guests of the wedding are expected to follow church and royal rules, or at the very least basic British tradition, in behavior and appearance.
Permissible clothing for men are military uniforms, morning coats or business suits in restrained colors. For women, a “day dress with hat.”
Myka Meier is an expert on royal protocol. She said women should keep their shoulders covered. Dresses should not be short.
“You won’t see a lot of skin,” Meier said. “At least you shouldn’t. It would be seen as disrespectful.”
And shoes should shine. Meier said men can be more imaginative with color and patterns in ties and socks. But shoes are to be black and well-polished.
Medals for those wearing military uniforms are common.
Only one dress really matters
The clothing most people are most excited to see is the bride’s. Markle’s wedding dress is a deep secret.
Experts say she is likely to have requested a custom-made dress from a top designer. It was almost surely handmade in Britain.
Her future sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, wore a long-sleeved lace and satin gown with a nine-foot-train. It reportedly cost more than $400,000.
No real honeymoon for now
Prince Harry and Markle plan to return to royal service three days following the wedding. They said they had promised to attend events, including some to honor Harry’s father, Prince Charles. He is turning 70 this month. However, later the couple is expected to take a celebratory trip to Namibia.
I'm Bryan Lynn. And I'm Caty Weaver.
The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
Words in This Story
fairy-tale romance – an expression describing a love relationship so perfect it seems imagined
royal – adj. of or relating to a king or queen
engagement – n. an agreement to be married : the act of becoming engaged or the state of being engaged to be married
role – n. a part that someone or something has in a particular activity or situation
pattern – n. a repeated form or design especially that is used to decorate something
tie – n. a long piece of cloth that is worn by men around the neck and under a collar and that is tied in front with a knot at the top
sock – n. a piece of clothing that is worn on your foot and that covers your ankle and sometimes the lower part of your leg
polish – v. to make (something) smooth and shiny by rubbing it
uniform – n. a special kind of clothing that is worn by all the members of a group or organization (such as an army or team
train – n a part of a long dress that trails behind the woman who is wearing it