The Royal Wedding: A Thoroughly Modern Fairy Tale

Everyone loves a fairy tale, right? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 royal wedding certainly didn’t disappoint. There were horse-drawn carriages, a cathedral-length wedding veil, flowers everywhere and romantic kisses for the ages. There was also a spirited speech by an American bishop, a gospel choir, an Etta James song and a partly American bridal party. Needless to say, it was an elegant and traditional affair, with plenty of modern touches to usher the British monarchy into a new era.

St. George’s Chapel was established in the 14th century by King Edward III. There have been multiple royal weddings there dating back a century and a half, from the union of Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863 to the upcoming nuptials of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in October of this year.

With all the talk and wonder beforehand, the bride’s dress turned out to be very much reflective of her own personal style. Markle chose a Givenchy creation, designed by thefashion house’s creative director Clare Waight Keller. The dress was made of crisp white silk with a boatneck-style neckline and a slightly A-line skirt. Her shoes were also Givenchy, made with a silk and (appropriately) duchess satin. Many said the dress was reminiscent of the gown worn by Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy when she married JFK Jr., a dress Markle publicly declared her love for.

You know what they say, never work with children or animals. It turns out the royalcouple’s choice for a bridal party of page boys and flower girls ages 2 to 7 was a hit. The children included their niece and nephew, Prince George and Princess Charlotte; Markle’s goddaughters, Remi and Rylan Litt; her best friend’s daughter and sons, Ivy, Brian and John Mulroney; the prince’s friends’ daughter, Florence van Cutsem; and his goddaughter and godson, Zalie Warren and Jasper Dyer.

Princess Charlotte as usual stole the show. Not only was she far less shy than her brother George, she also channeled her Uncle Harry — she was caught sticking her tongue out outside St. George’s Chapel after the ceremony.

The gorgeous floral arrangements at St. George’s Chapel and in Markle’s bouquet had lots of sentimentality. The bouquet included one of Prince Harry’s mother Diana’s favorites,forget-me-nots, as well as sweet peas and lily of the valley. As per royal tradition, there was a sprig of myrtle to symbolize hope and love. Rumor has it Harry chose what went into the bouquet. The church was dotted with flowers designed by royal wedding florist Philippa Craddock. There were plenty of peonies, the bride’s favorite flower, and white roses, a favorite of Diana’s.

The ceremony had plenty of traditional British pomp and circumstance, but it was American Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry who stole the show. His sermon, full of emotion, animation and just plain heart caused a lot of royals to look a bit taken aback. He spoke about the undying power of love. The New York Times published his full sermon.

Also worth noting was the music. Again, British tradition was fully on display with religious hymns, but it was the tributes to Markle’s American and biracial background that broughtthe monarchy into modern times. After all, when was the last time you saw a beautiful rendition of “Stand by Me” by Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir at a royal wedding?

There were, of course, the usual royals you’d expect: best man Prince William, the future king; his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte (little Prince Louis stayed home); Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Queen Elizabeth, 92, and Prince Philip, 96, were all in attendance, as were members of Princess Diana’s family.

American celebrities on hand included Markle’s former “Suits” cast, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams and Oprah.

There were two receptions: one swanky luncheon hosted by the queen, at which Elton John performed, and another evening reception with more of a nightclub feel. During the first reception, pastry chef (and California native) Claire Ptak unveiled the infamous lemon elderflower cake that everyone had been buzzing about. The lunch menu included poached chicken, grilled English asparagus wrapped in ham and an apple and elderflower mocktail.

Both newlyweds changed for the evening reception, he into a dashing black tux and she into a showstopper — an arm-baring white Stella McCartney dress. All eyes were on her hands, though, as many noticed she was wearing an emerald-cut aquamarine ring that was once Princess Diana’s.

At the reception, best man Prince William was rumored to have given quite the naughty speech, along with a joint one by two of Harry’s old pals, Tom “Skippy” Inskip and Tom van Straubenzee.

The couple’s new royal titles are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They will eventually begin more of their charity work with organizations like sports charity StreetGames, Surfers Against Sewage and CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association). Perhaps sooner rather than later they will have children; Harry has always had a strong affection toward his niece and nephews, and his friends’ children, too.

St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire. One of the most visited areas of the Castle and is also one of the most beautiful. The Nave is dominated by this huge Great West Window (seen above), often claimed to be the third largest in the UK. While photography inside the Chapel is forbidden. Photo by Jack Pease.


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