Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Married

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Married

Prince Harry, 33, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, married Meghan Markle, 36, an American actress, at Windsor Castle yesterday May 19.

Each has a new title. Harry is now the Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Ms. Markle will be known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. Oprah Winfrey was there. So was Elton John, Serena Williams, Idris Elba, the entire cast of Suits, and the Clooneys and the Beckhams. The dress was by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. And the big moment was the rousing sermon by the Most Rev. Michael Curry.

In the scheme of things, this particular marriage is not all that important. Harry is only sixth in line to the throne. But Ms. Markle is a highly unusual royal bride: She’s American, divorced, three years older than Harry, had a high-profile career and is biracial. It’s a new day for the monarchy.

The couple looked so happy, and so relaxed. They were beaming as they said their vows, and luckily, no one came forward to provide any reason that they might not be married. (This is always an exciting moment in a ceremony.)

It was an extraordinary mix of tradition and modernity, of centuries of history and up-to-the moment flourishes. Oprah was here, and so was Meghan’s mother, an African-American social worker who wore a conventional mother-of-the-bride outfit and also a nose stud.

The entire royal family was here, along with a complement of English aristocrats and important personages. The music was stately and beautiful. The setting was awe-inspiring.

There was a flotilla of clergymen, an extraordinary mélange including the archbishop of Canterbury and — in a striking inclusion in this most ancient of places — the head of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.

Chosen to give the address to the congregations, Bishop Curry, who is African-American, quoted Martin Luther King. His voice rising and falling with emotion, he made a big, generous, impassioned case for love as the most important thing there is, in religion and in life.

His address came after a reading by Lady Jane Fellowes, Harry’s aunt (her sister was Diana, Princess of Wales) that was both full of joy and a signal, it seemed, that the sadness in Harry’s life since his mother’s death had finally lifted. It was a passage from the Song of Solomon: “Arise my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.”

Meghan Markle’s dress was a success: sculptural simplicity. Designed by Clare Waight Keller, a British woman and the first female designer of Givenchy, the dress was absolutely simple: pure and sculptural, in double bonded silk cady with a wide boatneck, long sleeves and sweeping train.

This was not a Cinderella choice, not one that spoke of fantasy or old-fashioned fairy tales. Instead, it placed the woman proudly front and center and underscored Ms. Markle’s own independence. At the same time, it celebrated female strength, promoted a local designer and reached a hand across to Europe (where Ms. Waight Keller has a day job).

The five-meter veil was of silk tulle, with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, and contained embroidery representing the flora of all 53 Commonwealth nations.

And it was entirely a surprise. In all the rumors that had swirled around The Dress, from Ralph & Russo to Stella McCartney, Ms. Waight Keller’s name had never come up. In the end, Ms. Markle outthought us all. As this starts, long may it continue.

Unlike a lot of weddings — and certainly unlike Kate and William’s wedding, just seven years ago — the guests inside hung out in the aisles, air-kissing and gossiping. It’s a great royal-and-celebrity cocktail party! (Sadly without cocktails.)

Kate and William’s wedding was solemn, stately, stuffy, full of dignitaries, politicians, and the sort of boring personages known here as the great and the good.

But this looked totally fun for the guests — even more fun than, say, the Academy Awards — because no one was competing for anything and no one was forced to talk about their outfits to television reporters.

Part of the change in tone is down to the passage of time and to how much Britain, or perhaps the royal family, has changed in the last few years.

Another reason, of course, is that Harry, being the second son and not a future king, has the freedom to be more relaxed, less constrained by tradition, and less conventional than his brother. This wedding has nothing to do with dynasty, or ensuring the security of the royal line. (We hope they have kids! But only because it’s fun to have kids, not because it would be some sort of international crisis if they did not.)

This wedding had everything to do with two people who are totally into each other and wanted to have a great big happy celebration.

One of the great excitements about any wedding, of course, is the moment you learn who has been invited and who has not. Meghan and Harry’s list was kept secret, until the very moment that dozens of mysterious figures started to enter St. George’s Chapel.

It was Celebrity Central with none other than Oprah Winfrey, in a snug pink dress, a pair of very cool sunglasses and a massive broad-brimmed hat spectacularly festooned with flowers. If anyone qualifies as American royalty, it is surely Oprah, with her ability to transcend race and background, and her great gift for openness and emotional candor. There were also George and Amal Clooney, and David and Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh and Becks, among the guests. Other celebrities attending were tennis star Serena Williams, TV personality James Corden, singer James Blunt, actress Carey Mulligan, actor Idris Elba, and former England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson. Prince Harry’s uncle, Earl Spencer; the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; and the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, were also invited.

For many people, the most striking thing was the sermon by the charismatic Bishop Curry, who preached a ringing message of love — with references to Martin Luther King Jr. and to the legacy of American slavery — with such joy and such enthusiasm that it was impossible not to feel joyful and enthusiastic right alongside him.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death; passion as fierce as the grave. It’s flashes of fire, of raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out.” — Bishop Michael Curry.

It was as if a Southern Baptist preacher had suddenly wandered onto the set of “Downton Abbey.”

The speech began trending on Twitter, with people marveling at the spectacle of seeing such a man saying such things in such a place.

“If Pippa was the unexpected star of Kate’s wedding, Michael Curry is the star of this one,” tweeted Fraser Nelson, editor of the conservative-leaning Spectator, which is about as tradition-bound as they come. “Wonderful, wonderful sermon,” he added.

Monica Drake, an assistant managing editor at The Times, writes that Bishop Curry’s address was a nod to Ms. Markle’s heritage.

This wedding was about the future, a different future for the Royal Family.

All 600 guests were invited to a lunchtime reception at St George’s Hall, hosted by the Queen, where they were treated to a performance by Sir Elton John. The reception also included the cutting of the lemon and elderflower-flavoured wedding cake.

Guest Suhani Jalota, the founder of the India-based Myna Mahila charity, said Elton John performed a “mini-concert”. She added that speeches by the Prince of Wales and the groom were “lovely”, adding: “Some people were even crying.”

Posting on Instagram, David Beckham said: “Watching Harry as happy as he was makes us all proud of the man and person he has always been… what a day.”

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2 Comments

  1. Dunder
    May 20, 15:53 Reply

    I don’t mean to reinforce stereotypes but wallahi I did not even know about any wedding until it came up in some homepages of world news channels and I did not even have the slightest inkling to watch. I remember my Mom narrating the details of my bestie’s wedding to me because I could not attend- the will to live leached out of every orifice in my body as I thirsted for death. Wetin consign me with designer, cake, hat, celebrity, decoration, dress etc? When home, I’m always intrigued by how interested she is in some TV programs where weddings, ceremonies and fashion events are showcased with focus on what was worn and how the place was decorated. The worst is make-up tutorials and hair obsessed people on YouTube- and they have so many views!

    I wish this couple a happy and fulfilling life together. I liked the excerpt from the Reverend’s speech about love. For all those aspiring to marry for the sake of love on this platform, may your Prince/ Princess Charming appear swiftly and never leave!

    • Malik
      May 21, 01:11 Reply

      Some of us obsess about weddings. I burned data to stream it online. For us all the details are a pretty big deal. We want to know who the wedding planners were, the hairstylist, the make-up artist. We want all the details on the choice of the wedding dress, the tiara and even where Nigeria’s flower is on the Commonwealth-inspired veil.

      Close to the bottom of the list of the things that consain me is love. What’s a happy marriage without a glam owambe wedding!

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