A newly married couple surrounded by an angelic—sometimes even mischievous—bunch of flower girls and page boys seems to be the wedding picture de rigueur at English nuptials. Instead of being flanked by close friends, like couples in the United States so often are, Prince William and Kate Middleton only had their brother and sister respectively as attendants. And, in some of their most famous wedding portraits, they’re surrounded by children. Remember flower girl Grace van Cutsem, a.k.a. Prince William’s goddaughter? The little girl who practically stole the show on the balcony when she couldn’t stop covering her ears and making funny faces in response to the deafening noise from the cheering crowds and the planes above.
For the most part, bridesmaids, like #squadgoals, are still a thing Stateside. We’ve seen southern wedding parties that boast up to 13 bridesmaids, and no one bats an eye. So the question becomes, will Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s very American fiancée, opt for a big crew on her big day?
“Whether you’re royal or not, choosing to have bridesmaids or junior bridesmaids (which are typically 9-14 years old) is a matter of personal preference for a bride,” says Anne Chertoff, a wedding trends expert at the WeddingWire. “Traditionally, bridesmaids were unmarried sisters and friends of the bride and groom, but today, brides may have anyone—married or single, child, teen, or adult—in their wedding party.”
While Queen Elizabeth II chose her sister, Princess Margaret, cousins, and friends—ranging in age from 10 to mid 20s—to be her bridesmaids, her daughter, Princess Anne, sparked the trend of having child bridesmaids at royal weddings with the selection of her 9-year-old cousin and 9-year-old brother. “Children and teens—both relatives and children of close friends—walked down the aisle at the royal weddings of Lady Diana and Prince Charles, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, Sophie Ryhs-Jones and Prince Edward, Kate Middleton and Prince William, and Zara Phillips and Mark Tindall,” recalls Chertoff. “Some brides also chose an adult to act as maid-of-honor or chief bridesmaid, as Kate did with her sister Pippa, to hold their train and wrangle the kids. (Anne’s son, Peter Phillips’ bride Autumn Kelly, chose adult bridesmaids for their wedding. They wore mint green Vera Wang bridesmaid dresses.)”
Meghan has a wide circle of friends who she may want to honor by having them as her bridesmaids. She can count actress Priyanka Chopra, designer Misha Nonoo, and tennis super star Serena Williams all as BFFs, and they all could very likely handle the limelight.
“Ultimately, the choice will depend on the style of the wedding, where it will be held, and how formal the couple wants it to be,” says Chertoff. “With the added glare of the media, they may decide that they don’t want to put an unwanted spotlight on their friends to protect their privacy, as they did by not revealing the name of their mutual friend who introduced them. And not having adult bridesmaids doesn’t mean Meghan won’t include them in wedding planning, her bridal shower, and bachelorette or hen party.”
While we may not know for certain who Meghan may ask to be a bridesmaid just yet, we can assume that Prince William will be his brother’s best man, and Prince Harry’s nephew and niece, Prince George and Prince Charlotte, will serve as a pageboy and flower girl. “There is a long tradition of royal children taking part in weddings as flower girls and pageboys, including Prince William and Prince Harry,” says Chertoff. “Prince William at Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding in 1986, and Prince Harry at Princess Diana’s brother’s wedding in 1989.” At this point, one thing’s for sure: prominently including cute kids is a British tradition we can get behind.