WINDSOR, England – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s big day has come, and the sun is shining outside of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle where early guests began arriving about four hours before the royal wedding is set to begin.
Many of the first guests to arrive are part of the approximately 1,200 members of the public the Markle and Prince Harry invited to witness their wedding, some of whom were invited due to their involvement in specific charities that are meaningful to the couple. Those guests will watch the wedding from a designated area outside of the castle, while 600 guests will be inside the chapel.
But many royal enthusiasts got there much sooner. Some have been camped out at Windsor since Wednesday night. On Friday evening, Harry greeted the crowds outside Windsor Castle along with his brother Prince William.
After their wedding today, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will officially be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Kensington Palace revealed early on the morning of the pair’s wedding day.
“The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales,” the palace said in a statement. “His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Ms. Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”
Though a lot is changing for Harry in the next few hours, he told well-wishers outside of the castle on Friday he was feeling “relaxed.” Markle, meanwhile, said she was feeling “wonderful” as she arrived at her hotel with her mother, Doria Ragland, on Friday. Earlier in the day, Markle and her mom had tea with Queen Elizabeth.
Preparations for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Ragland is the only member of the 36-year-old formerr “Suits” star’s family who will be in attendance, following a week of speculation that began after her father staged paparazzi photos and subsequently had heart issues and surgery that led to him skipping the royal affair. Markle’s half-siblings, Samantha Grant and Thomas Markle Jr., have both slammed their famous sister and caused drama for the royal-to-be. They were left off the guest list.
Markle released a statement wishing her father well earlier in the week. Prince Charles, Harry’s dad, will walk her down the aisle.
Kensington Palace released the order of service for Saturday’s Anglican ceremony with an American flavor that mixes prayers, classical music, a gospel choir and sweet soul sounds.
The service will be led by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will solemnize the marriage, and the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Michael Bruce Curry, will deliver a sermon.
Markle, who attended a Roman Catholic school, has been baptized into the Church of England, of which Queen Elizabeth II is supreme governor.
The ceremony is based on Common Worship — the most modern of several Church of England service options — and includes prayers and hymns, as well as readings and musical selections chosen by the couple and their family.
Kensington Palace said “like any couple getting married, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have taken a great deal of care in selecting all elements for their service.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in love
The palace said it was “a collaborative effort” between the two, and they also consulted Harry’s father Prince Charles about the orchestral music being played before the service begins.
The Church of England doesn’t allow couples to write their own wedding vows — they have to stick to the script. Meghan and Harry will vow to have and to hold, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”
Welby, head of the global Anglican Communion will ask them to love, comfort, honor and protect one another — but not obey. That requirement of wives is now widely considered outdated by the Church of England.
After guests sing “God Save the Queen,” Britain’s national anthem, the newlyweds will leave the chapel to the strains of an allegro from “Symphony No. 1” by 18th-century composer William Boyce, and the gospel sounds of “Amen/This Little Light of Mine.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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