Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Get Married: A Beautiful Day of Passion and Love
In an astonishing end to an astonishing week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed in a ceremony which both honoured tradition and protocol and threw it out the window.
WINDSOR – Something old was the castle, the ancient royal palace that keeps century above the town of Windsor.
Something borrowed was Prince Charles, who stepped in to take the role of the bride’s father.
Something new was the radiant bride Meghan Markle, the Californian girl who is the freshest breath of air to blow through the British royal family in its history.
And something blue?
Well, that was the sky itself, from which the sun beamed down on Harry, Meghan, their 600 guests, the 3,000 hand-picked members of the public inside the palace walls, and the 150,000 sunburned faces gathered on the streets outside and lining the three-mile ‘Long Walk’ in Windsor Great Park, the Castle’s back garden, where the couple took a joyous post-nuptial carriage ride on this most perfect of summer wedding days.
Oh, and let’s not forget the estimated two billion viewers watching on TV around the world, making this the most watched event of all time.
The town of Windsor, not unused to royal pageantry, had never seen anything like it, as royalty and the showbiz elite came together, washing up against the steps of St George’s chapel in a gyre of elegance and glamor.
As George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John and David Furnish took their seats in the church alongside the Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince Philip, Kate Middleton and Prince William, traditional English orchestral music, chosen with the assistance of Prince Charles, was played by a cluster of the finest musicians in the land.
40 minutes before the service was due to begin, the world got its first glimpse of Meghan’s wedding dress as the bride to be, accompanied by her mother, Doria Ragland, set off in a vintage Rolls Royce from Cliveden hotel. She was wearing a white veil and white dress with a boat neck and a tiara.
Fifteen minutes later, an unobtrusive, blacked out people carrier rolled up in the grounds of the castle, and out popped Prince Harry and his best man Prince William. They were both dressed in ceremonial military uniforms, choosing to wear the knee-length frockcoats of their regiment, the Blues and Royals, in which they are both majors.
Harry waved to the crowds gathered outside and then made his way into the chapel.
He sat with his brother on wooden chairs near the alter while, outside, the Rolls Royce containing his bride made its way through the Park towards the George IV gate of the castle.
The Queen, dressed in a lime green ensemble, arrived just three minutes before noon, with Prince Philip, recovered from hip surgery, followed by some of the pageboys and bridesmaids including Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
On the dot of noon, Meghan stepped out of her car and her dress, magnificent, simple and designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, was revealed to the world. Waight Keller is the first female Artistic Director at the French fashion house.
A soloist sang as Meghan made her way down the aisle, with the two small children of her best friend Brian and John Mulroney, holding her train.
As Markle approached the altar, Prince Harry mouthed the words: "You look amazing."
Few would disagree.
The couple smiled broadly at each other, and a steadfast silence reigned, as first the congregation and then the couple were asked if they knew of any reason why they could not lawfully be wed.
Lady Jane Fellowes, the sister of Princess Diana, read the Song of Solomon.
In what was by far the most dramatic and evangelical address ever preached at a royal wedding, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the head of the Episcopalian Church in the U.S.A., threw his arms in the air and threw his voice around the chapel, sometimes whispering sometimes bellowing, proclaiming rapturously, at one stage, “Jesus died for us! He wasn’t getting anything out of it! He died for us!”
Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, opened his speech, titled, 'The Power of Love,' with the words of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who said: "We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way."
The bishop then added: "There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalise. There is power, power in love.
“Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
"Two young people fell in love and we all showed up."
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. offshoot of the Church of England and forms part of the broader Anglican Communion. Meghan was baptised into the Anglican Church, which is headed by Harry's grandmother, ahead of the wedding.
As Curry continued his powerful and uplifting sermon, some members of the royal family and the congregation were pictured slack-jawed in astonishment.
A British gospel choir, the Kingdom Choir, sang Stand By Me, before tradition was restored and they were married by Archbishop of Canterbury, who led the vows. Meghan did not pledge to ‘obey’ her husband.
When they were pronounced man and wife, there were no cheers in the church, but a roar from outside could clearly be heard.
The service concluded with a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen. And then an even more rousing gospel rendition of "Let It Shine."
The happy couple - now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - walked out of the church hand in hand, kissed on the steps, and then set off on their carriage ride around Windsor.
As the sun beamed down, Meghan touched her chest in a gesture of amazement at the size of the crowd, which waved Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes and whooped its approval.
Thomas Markle, Meghan's dad who was unable to attend the royal wedding after undergoing emergency heart surgery, told TMZ he was "emotional and joyful" as he watched the ceremony on TV.
"My baby looks beautiful and she looks very happy," he said.
"I wish I was there and I wish them all my love and happiness."