On Saturday, Meghan Markle married Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England. The wedding marked the culmination of a much-publicized courtship and subsequent engagement. And while British royal weddings are typically the subject of world-wide attention, this specific union marks a unique moment in the history of the British Royal Family. Markle, who will now be known as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, thanks to a decree signed earlier today by Queen Elizabeth II, is a 36-year-old, biracial, divorced American actress.
The bride wore a custom wedding gown designed by Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy for the occasion. The batteau-neck gown was simple in its structure and featured three-quarter-length sleeves, while the veil had embroidery that represented the flowers of the British Commonwealth. The gown was both classic and fresh, with its minimalist silhouette, which recalled the current off-the-shoulder trend ever so slightly.
The choice of Clare Waight Keller came as a surprise, despite the fact that she is a British designer. However, as was true of Sarah Burton in 2011, when she designed Kate Middleton’s wedding gown, Waight Keller is a young woman new to an established fashion house. That seems as apt a metaphor as any, for a woman marrying into the British royal family.
Markle also wore the Queen Mary Filigree tiara and a veil for the occasion, and styled her hair up in an elegant bun. The bride carried a small bouquet of white flowers to the chapel, which provided a subtle hint of green to her ensemble.
The bride was accompanied for the first part of her journey to the Windsor Castle by her mother, Doria Ragland. Meghan arrived alone, save for her bridesmaids and page boys, and began her walk down the aisle unaccompanied, in a remarkable break from tradition. As she entered the quire, she was met by Prince Charles, who walked her the remainder of the way to the altar. The question of who would walk the bride down the aisle became a subject of great interest this week, when the father of the bride, Thomas Markle, announced that he would no longer be attending the wedding.
The wedding ceremony was attended by 600 guests, and included members of the public. Notable guests included Serena Williams, Amal and George Clooney, Priyanka Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, and David and Victoria Beckham. Pippa Middleton, and Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriends, Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy, were also in attendance.
Guests began arriving at the chapel at 9:00 a.m. Members of the royal family started to make their way into the chapel at around 11:20 am. Not long afterwards, Prince Harry, accompanied by his brother and best man Prince William, entered the church. Per protocol, the Queen was the last member of the royal family to arrive at the church, making her way inside not long before the bride.
The flowers at Windsor Chapel were designed by London florist Philippa Craddock. Kensington Palace had previously announced that the bride and groom had chosen Craddock because of her interest in using locally sourced blooms. The flowers appeared on the exterior of the chapel, as well as inside.
As Kensington Palace had previously announced, Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, gave an address at the wedding. The service was conduced by the Dean of Windsor and The Right Reverend David Conner. The Most Reverend and Right Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated the marriage vows. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior bishop of the Church of England, of which Queen Elizabeth is the head. Markle converted to Anglicanism prior to the wedding.
The ceremony included remarkable moments of American-infused history and modernity. In addition to the address delivered by Reverend Curry, The Kingdom Choir and Karen Gibson sang “Stand by Me.” When the couple excited the chapel, and shared a kiss, the Civil Rights era ballad “This Little Light of Mine,” played in the background. The British black experience was also incorporated into the ceremony. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a 19-year-old cello soloist, performed during the wedding. Kanneh-Mason is the first black musician to win the BBC’s Young Musician Award.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who served as page boy and bridesmaid, respectively, in the wedding, also drew considerable attention. Princess Charlotte, who repeatedly waved to the crowd, wore a white dress and floral crown, along with her compatriots. Prince George wore black, which was reminiscent of Prince Harry and Prince William’s own military uniforms.
The wedding also marked the first official pubic appearance for Kate Middleton since the birth of her third child, Prince Louis. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a creamy yellow coat dress for the occasion, and accompanied her children as they entered the chapel. Prince Louis, who is less than one month old, did not attend the wedding.
After the ceremony concluded, and the bride and groom excited the chapel, they then began a two-mile procession around Windsor. Prince Harry was notably emotional, as had been true throughout the ceremony.
Soon, the bride and groom will attend a lunch-time reception at St. George’s Hall, hosted by the Queen. The couple’s wedding cake will be lemon and elderflower flavored, and decorated with buttercream and flowers. As perviously announced by Kensington Palace, the cake is designed by Claire Ptak, of the London bakery Violet Cakes. Later this evening, Prince Charles, the father of the groom, will host a more intimate 200-person reception at Frogmore House.