It was a lonely walk for Meghan Markle as she walked down the aisle of the St. George’s Chapel, with only her page boys and bridesmaids behind her, until she was met halfway by father-in-law Prince Charles, and together they approached the altar where Prince Harry was waiting.
Yes, the handsome prince was marrying his lady love at the very same 500-year-old chapel, on the grounds of Windsor Castle, which witnessed his christening 33 years ago.
Thomas Markle, the bride’s dad, who would have likely accompanied his soon-to-become Duchess of Sussex daughter down the aisle, could not make it to England on account of his heart surgery, which he underwent on Wednesday, in Mexico, as confirmed by Markle on Thursday.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” the former actress said.
As she arrived at the historic chapel, which was witnessing its 16th royal wedding since 1863, she was greeted by the State Trumpeters with a special fanfare dedicated to her.
After all the speculation and educated guesses about who the designer was going to be, all of which turned out to be incorrect, the royal bride turned up in a simple, yet elegant, Givenchy dress, conceptualized by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of the French fashion house, and the bride herself.
What was interesting about the dress was that it was neither too ostentatious nor theatrical; its beauty was in its simplicity.
She did give us the long train, though, but, of course, that was expected, not to forget the 16-foot long veil with each of the 33 Commonwealth countries represented by its distinctive flora in the hand embroidery on the veil.
Reportedly, workers had to wash their hands every half hour to keep the dress as white as what the world saw.
The groom’s older brother and second in line to be King of England, Prince William, was the best man, while Princess Charlotte, his 3-year-old daughter, was one of the six little bridesmaids.
The others were Markle’s goddaughters Remi and Rylan Litt; Prince Harry’s goddaughters Florence van Cutsem and Zalie Warren; as well as Ivy Mulroney, the daughter of Markle’s close friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney – the two had met on the set of “Suits” in Canada.
The page boys in the service were Harry’s nephew Prince George, his godson Jasper Dyer and Ivy’s older brothers, Brian and John, who are twins.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is also the principal leader of the Church of England, solemnized the ceremony; in fact, he was the one who baptized Markle into the Anglican church on March 6.
The bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A, Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry spoke about the power of love quoting Martin Luther King:
“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way,” echoed the Chicago-born black preacher.
“There is power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will,” he boomed.
“My brother, my sister, God love, God bless you and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love,” said the bishop, directly addressing the bride and groom.
Karen Gibson conducted the Kingdom Gospel Choir as they performed a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
The couple was referred to by their full names – Henry Charles Albert David and Rachel Meghan Markle – only once, when the Dean of Windsor and spiritual head of the Canons of St. George’s Chapel, David Conner, read the preface.
However, the Dean used the couple’s more familiar monikers, Harry and Meghan, while he conducted the actual service.
In keeping with Lady Diana’s tradition, who was the first royal bride to have started it, Markle chose to bypass the “obey” the husband part of the marital vows.
However, after the late Princess of Wales, the “obey” vow was used again by the brides of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – Prince Charles’ brothers – only to be dropped again by Kate Middleton from her wedding vows when she married the Duke of Cambridge in 2011.
“I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage. With my body I honor you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you,” said the couple as they exchanged rings.
The couple exited the hallowed space of St. George’s Chapel as Duke and Duchess of Sussex about an hour after they had entered, to be greeted by deafening cheers as they kissed on the steps of the chapel.
As the couple entered the carriage that was about to take them on a 25-minute ride through Windsor, the Kingdom Gospel Choir performed Etta James’ “This Little Light of Mine,” in their honor.
Some 120,000 fans, well-wishers, and observers lined the route as the newlywed royals rode in a horse-drawn carriage, starting at Castle Hill and passing through the main street, on to Long Walk before returning to Windsor Castle through the Cambridge Gate.
Accompanying them were 24 mounted soldiers and two officers from Harry’s regiment, the Household Cavalry
Lt. Col. James Gaselee, the commanding officer who rode alongside the couple’s carriage had earlier said in an interview, “We are demonstrating what Britain does best in many ways to the rest of the world.”
Thousands of journalists from across the world came to Windsor to cover the modern day fairytale wedding – as many are calling it, and befittingly so – beaming back the sights and sounds of the royal event to their respective countries; the viewing audience estimated at nearly 2 billion.
Among the members of the royal family, attending the first royal wedding in Britain in seven years, were the groom’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip; Prince of Wales Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; and Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Celebrities who graced the occasion included the likes of Sir Elton John, George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, James Blunt, Tom Hardy, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, tennis great Serena Williams, David and Victoria Beckham, Marcus Mumford, Idris Elba, Carey Mulligan, and Tom Hardy.
Also present were the Duchess of Sussex’s “Suits” co-stars Rick Hoffman, Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty.
Later, the Queen hosted an official lunch reception in St. George’s Hall for all the invitees.
According to Kensington Palace, the wedding cake was lemon elderflower with buttercream icing, decorated with fresh flowers, created by London-based American chef Claire Ptak.