Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony that blended ancient English ritual with African American culture, infusing the 1,000-year-old British monarchy with a blast of modernity.
In a medieval chapel at Windsor Castle that 39 English kings and queens have called home since 1066, Harry and Meghan exchanged vows watched up close by royals and celebrities, and from afar by a global TV audience of many millions.
Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, the American actress was accompanied up the aisle of St George’s Chapel by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before she and Harry exchanged vows and were proclaimed husband and wife.
The couple kissed on the steps of the 15th Century chapel, before delighting the sea of well-wishers, some of whom had camped for days to witness the spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry, by touring Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage.
Prince Harry’s vows at the wedding are as follows: “I Harry, take you, Meghan, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God, I make this vow.”
Among the guests were Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams and Sir Elton John. India’s very own representative, Priyanka Chopra was at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. She made her first public appearance after arriving in London, donning a plaid suit from Alberta Ferretti. “I do think Meghan being a part of the royal family is a big step in the direction of so many things; of women, of feminism, of diversity, of race, of the monarchy versus everyone else. It’s a beautiful step in the right direction,” Priyanka Chopra had said earlier.
Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, became the sixteenth Royal Couple to celebrate their Marriage at Windsor Castle since 1863. The newly-wed royal couple had a tour of the city center of Windsor in a traditional horse-driven Ascot Landau carriage.
More than 100,000 fans cramped the narrow roads of Windsor, about 20 miles (30 km) west of London. Security was tight and visitors had to pass through police search points set up around the castle, home to 39 English monarchs since 1066.
Harry said he had never heard of his future wife or watched her TV series, and she said she knew nothing of the prince. But after just two dates, he whisked her off to Botswana for a holiday, camping under the stars. “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect,” Harry said when their engagement was announced last November.
Harry’s gilded upbringing is in stark contrast with Markle’s. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and her parents divorced when she was six. After a number of minor roles in films and on TV, she won the role as Rachel Zane in “Suits”. She ran a successful lifestyle blog, thetig.com, and has worked as a humanitarian campaigner. In 2011, she married film producer Trevor Engelson but they divorced in 2013.
“We can break the barriers down, it can be done,” said 40-year-old black Briton Yvonne Emanuel, one of the 100,000-strong crowd that thronged Windsor’s streets. The ceremony was typical of royal weddings in many ways. The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor while Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the couple man and wife, beneath the banners of the knights of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest chivalric group dating back to 1348.
The British remain broadly supportive of the monarchy albeit with a sense of mild irony about the pomp and pageantry that accompanies it, though many have deep respect for Elizabeth, after her 66 years of service. Harry, along with brother William and his wife Kate, are at the forefront of an effort to modernize the monarchy by talking openly about their innermost feelings.
The union of Harry, a former royal wild child and sixth-in-line to the British throne, and 36-year-old Meghan, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white, was like no other the royal family has seen before.
The newlyweds will also be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed those titles on them.