► Plans for a carriage procession through the streets of Windsor.
Saying they want the British public to take part in their celebrations, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced a particularly grand way to open up their May 19 wedding to the world. Kensington Palace has announced that the couple will take part in a carriage procession immediately after their wedding ceremony, which will take place at noon at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.
In a statement released Sunday, a palace spokesman said, “Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are hugely grateful for the many good wishes they have received since announcing their engagement. They are very much looking forward to the day and to being able to share their celebrations with the public.”
The carriage procession will leave Windsor Castle via Castle Hill and proceed along High Street and through Windsor Town, returning to Windsor Castle along the Long Walk. A spokesman said, “They hope this short journey will provide an opportunity for more people to come together around Windsor and to enjoy the atmosphere of this special day.”
The ceremony will take place at noon local time, with the carriage procession scheduled for an hour later, at one pm. It is expected that tens of thousands of well-wishers, royalists, and tourists will turn out for the day, and the couple are keen to show their appreciation.
“They are deep in the planning stages now and one of the things they wanted from the outset was to do a carriage tour after the ceremony. It will really add to the whole fairy-tale feel of the day and because everything is happening behind the castle walls, it will be the only real chance for the public to see the couple close up,” a source said.
There are also plans for a giant screen to be erected in Windsor Town so that the crowds can watch the ceremony, which is due to be televised. There is also talk of some members of the public being allowed onto the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The blueprint for the wedding is said to be Prince Edward’s wedding to Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, when, in addition to a carriage procession, 8,000 members of the public were invited onto the castle grounds via a ballot system.
Now less than 100 days away, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding is likely to be even more popular, with scores of American tourists coming to the UK for the occasion. Windsor is bracing itself for a huge spike in tourism, with some hotels charging thousands of pounds a night for luxury suites. Many broadcasters who will be covering the event have been priced out of the town and have reserved rooms in the nearby town of Slough three miles away.
As family and friends eagerly await their invitations, many guests have already been informed by the couple that they have made the exclusive guest list. The QueenandCharles, the Prince of Wales, who are paying for the wedding and evening party, are overseeing a reception at St. George’s Hall for the couple and guests from the congregation after the wedding. Prince Charles is hosting an evening reception for the couple and close family and friends later that night.
“It will very much be for them and their friends. There is no pressure for them to invite foreign royals, state dignitaries, or V.I.P.s. This is not a state occasion, it’s a family wedding,” says a royal source.
Leading party planners Fait Accompli have apparently been hired to oversee the evening reception, and Meghan is also said to have asked her close friend Millie Mackintosh to help her with the plans. The American actress has apparently chosen her wedding dress designer with the help of her close friend Jessica Mulroney, whose four-year-old daughter, Ivy, has been promised a role as flower girl. The name is being kept under lock and key although Meghan has told friends she wants “a glamorous but traditional gown.”
Kensington Palace has also confirmed that the Dean of Windsor, the Rt. Rev. David Conner, will conduct the service, and the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will officiate as the couple makes their marriage vows.