At 12 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) Saturday, May 19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. Major TV networks have pre-show coverage starting as early as 4 a.m. Check back at globeandmail.com or @globeandmail on Twitter for full coverage of the event. If you’re watching on TV too, Globe TV columnist John Doyle has some pointers on how to do it without losing your mind.
Prince Charles will walk Ms. Markle down the aisle, Kensington Palace confirmed Friday; her father, Thomas Markle Sr., chose to stay home in the United States after recent health problems and controversy in the Markle family. The ceremony is expected to last about an hour, after which the newlyweds take a short ride through Windsor’s streets in a horse-drawn carriage, then hold a private reception at the castle. Here’s a primer from Paul Waldie, The Globe and Mail’s London correspondent, on the route and timing of the ceremony.
The couple have invited 2,640 people to Windsor Castle to take part in the celebration, including people from all walks of life and across Britain (and, in one case, from Peterborough, Ont.) If you’re one of those lucky few, or one of the many journalists expected at the event, Elizabeth Renzetti has a guide to the etiquette of royal weddings. Important rules to remember: No phones, no swords inside the venue, no minidresses or bare arms, and remember to use the washroom before you leave home.
Wedding, by the numbers
A look at how Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding stacks up against previous royal nuptials:
Keeping with tradition, the couple will spend the night before the wedding apart. Both have chosen large country estates within a 30-minute drive of Windsor: Prince Harry will bunk at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park in Ascot and Ms. Markle will hole up at Cliveden House in Taplow. Hers is an interesting choice, considering the property is best known as the site of the 1961 Profumo sex scandal that brought down a government. But, as Domini Clark writes, it’s also home to an incredible spa where the bride-to-be can unwind, get gorgeous and take a breath before facing the frenzy of the big day.
If you find yourself in Windsor but not on the guest list, there’s still plenty to see and do there: Here’s Kate Wickers’s guide to the town’s attractions and accommodations, and a primer on the chapel‘s history. Or, if you’re visiting nearby London, here are three hotels where you can expect the royal treatment.
Canada, more specifically Toronto, was instrumental in bringing the royal couple together: Ms. Markle lived in the city, where the California actress’s TV series Suits is filmed, and Torontonians got an early and memorable public glimpse of their romance at 2017′s Invictus Games.
One Torontonian who’ll be watching the wedding closely is 31-year-old Marijke Vandergrift, who inherited a love of monarchy from her great-aunt and grandmother. She spoke with The Globe about what she has planned for her royal wedding party:
We’re all getting dressed up for the royal wedding in dresses, hats and/or fascinators. I have a vintage pink floral dress, with lace overlay. Now I just need to find the right hat. ... The other moms coming to the house are bringing their kids, so who knows, maybe the next generation of royal watchers will be formed.
Fashion and merchandise
Ms. Markle’s royal romance has had a seismic impact on the fashion world. The “Meghan effect” has many several of the Canadian brands she’s worn in public, and she’s worked as a brand ambassador for Montreal-based clothier Reitmans. The Globe’s Style writers have some strong opinions about how royal life will affect her wardrobe, and how her fashion choices will influence ours.
Here’s Nathalie Atkinson’s open letter about the meaning of her fashion choices:
Forgive me for taking the liberty as we’ve only met in passing but I feel like I know you, a neighbourhood celebrity here in Canada for several years before your recent international fame. And you’ve been covered before in these pages, including your foray into hands-on fashion design in collaboration with Reitmans, a stalwart Canadian company that many considered staid. As you explained to Jeanne Beker at the time, your outsider perspective was an asset: “As an American, I had none of that attached to it because I didn’t know the brand,” you said of the retailer, “I was able to look at what they had with really fresh eyes.” May I suggest you do the same with British royal style, and re-energize it the same way? With an aging monarch and a post-Brexit society, it’s a transformative moment for the royal family’s image. It needs a dash of daring.
Odessa Paloma Parker, meanwhile, writes about how you can learn from Ms. Markle, hat-wise:
It’s worth noting that her glamorous – albeit understated – approach to royal dressing speaks volumes about her California roots; there’s an air of ease in her choices, including her hats, which reflect a low-key but still considerate attitude towards tradition. What stands out most about her hat picks so far is their form; even at their most flamboyant, Markle’s headgear is restrained compared to what’s worn by the more dandy royals.
The royal merchandising industry has gone into overdrive in recent months, with both the wedding and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby, Louis. Alex Laws breaks down the official and less-official products you can get, from pillboxes and paper dolls to bags and aprons.
Race and representation
For people of colour, the union of a British prince and an American woman of mixed black and white heritage can be a complicated subject. For many, the Royal Family is a relic of colonialism that Ms. Markle’s presence can do little to redeem. But for some, seeing someone like themselves at the pinnacle of British society shows how monarchism and the nation can become more inclusive.
Ellie Abraham, a British freelance writer living in Toronto, was born in the U.K. to a white mother from Sussex and a black British Caribbean father. The detailed scrutiny of Ms. Markle’s life has brought out some toxic narratives about race in the British press, Ms. Abraham writes for The Globe, but she hopes her union with Prince Harry brings enlightenment too:
That is why representation and increased visibility of minorities, particularly in high-profile positions, is necessary. Ms. Markle, whether it was wanted or not, has become an identifiable role model. By speaking proudly about her own identity, she is inspiring pride in uniqueness and helping to promote positive change in Britain’s race relations.
Globe columnist Denise Balkissoon, meanwhile, contrasts the royal wedding’s fairy-tale narrative of racial equality with Britain’s Windrush scandal. The long-simmering controversy concerns people who, decades ago, immigrated from pre-independence Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean, but have recently lost health benefits or been deported, Ms. Balkissoon explains:
As far as updating the monarchy as a symbol for the modern world, these nuptials are fairly surface level − especially in a country coping with a scandal like Windrush. Ms. Markle isn’t jumping the citizenship queue: becoming officially British will take her about three years. Perhaps that’s enough time for the Windrush generation to achieve fairness.
For Canadian author Jen Sookfong Lee, the royal wedding will bring back memories of the wedding of Diana, Princess of Wales, which she watched closely when she was growing up in a Chinese immigrant family in Vancouver. Diana was the sort of person Ms. Lee and her sisters were told to become, but one inspiring photograph showed Ms. Lee that Diana could be defiant too:
She was all the things my sisters and I were supposed to aspire to back then – pretty but not flashy, devoted to children, demure enough to be acceptable to a prince and, especially, his mother. And yet, there is a glimmer of defiance. ... My sisters and I, limited as we were by what was safe and guaranteed success, saw in this photograph the promise of subversion. Being a woman, especially a woman of colour, meant that life was always a long game. You worked hard. You kept your reputation clean. You waited for your opportunities. And then, one day, maybe you could be who you wanted.
What happens after ‘I do’
Joining the House of Windsor will bring Ms. Markle into a very different kind of public theatre than she’s used to in Hollywood. She’ll be part of some of the Royal Family’s 2,000 official engagements, answer some of its 100,000 letters a year, and see her marital, public and personal life put under 24/7 scrutiny. Here, Katherine Laidlaw writes for The Globe about what she can expect as working royalty:
Much ado has been made about how the royal life is turning Markle, a Hollywood actor from Los Angeles and the former star of TV show Suits, into a proper princess. She has tightened up her fingers when she waves, and has perfected the Cambridge Cross seating posture, with an egg’s distance between the back of the chair and her back, legs together, ankles neatly crossed. And according to some reports out of Britain earlier this year, she’s also been kidnapped in a terror-training course that involved live ammo and secret-service operatives.
But how will the Royal Family be transformed in turn by Ms. Markle? Royal biographer Andrew Morton wrote for The Globe about how a modern woman like Ms. Markle, an accomplished actress and social-justice advocate in her own right, can adapt to and change an institution built on hereditary privilege:
Though Meghan will trip over some of the more arcane tribal rules, she is no longer becoming a cheerleader for a rigidly hierarchical institution in a nation of forelock-tugging subjects. This is a country of citizens who show respect, not deference, to their Sovereign; the Queen is seen as a neutral, unifying figure. Britain today is a republic with a crown worn rather lightly.