Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially set to marry in Spring 2018. Here's what we know about the couple's engagement and their big day so far.
PERMISSION TO MARRY
Before he could officially propose, the Prince had to receive permission from the Queen. According to the Successions to the Crown Act, the first six in line to the throne need the monarch's authorization (Harry is currently fifth in line). It is also widely believed that a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury might have been needed, given the fact Markle was previously married to U.S. film and TV producer Trevor Engelson.
The Queen with her grandson in 2015
In 2005, the Queen granted her son, Prince Charles, permission to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, despite the fact that Camilla had been divorced and was also Charles's mistress. Today, Markle has nothing to worry about, which will no doubt be welcome news to those who recall Princess Margaret’s heartbreaking decision in 1955, when she broke off her relationship with the divorced Captain Peter Townsend in the name of duty.
THE ENGAGEMENT RING
Shortly after Meghan and Harry announced their plans to marry on November 27, we got our first look at the custom diamond engagement ring Prince Harry used to propose. Harry designed the piece, which was then made by court jewelers Cleave and Company using one diamond sourced from Botswana and two smaller stones from Princess Diana's collection.
"The ring is obviously yellow gold because that's [Markle's] favorite and the main stone itself I sourced from Botswana and the little diamonds either side are from my mother's jewelry collection, to make sure that she's with us on this crazy journey together," Harry said during the couple's first sit-down interview with the BBC.
THE WEDDING DATE
The royals are going to have a busy spring next year. While specifics are still up in the air, Kensington Palace has confirmed Meghan and Harry will wed sometime in May of 2018, just one month after Will and Kate's third child is due.
Meghan and Harry could have been married in Westminster Abbey (a spokesman for the Abbey confirmed that their marriage could take place in one of the world's most famous churches thanks to a recent ruling by the Church of England. “The Abbey follows the General Synod Ruling of 2002," the spokesperson said. "Since then it has been possible for divorced people to be married in the Church of England”). But a statement from Kensington Palace on November 28 revealed that the wedding will instead take place in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
"As with all members of The Royal Family, Windsor is a very special place for Prince Harry and he and Ms. Markle have regularly spent time there over the last year and a half," reads the memo.
"They are grateful to The Queen for granting permission for the use of the Chapel."
The statement goes on to mention that many members of the British royal family, including Prince Edward, have been married at the chapel. "Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are delighted that the beautiful grounds of Windsor Castle will be where they begin their lives together as a married couple," it reads.
Meghan and Harry are also planning to "allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too," and are "currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved."
"This wedding, like all weddings, will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the characters of the Bride and Groom."
We shouldn't expect Meghan and Harry's nuptials to be a repeat of what we've recently seen from the royal family.
William and Kate's carriage procession
After their Westminster Abbey ceremony, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greeted the thousands of well-wishers who waited to see catch a glimpse of the carriage procession back to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a lunch for 650 guests. They later enjoyed an evening reception for their most trusted friends and family inside the Palace. And while Pippa didn't celebrate in a royal location, her wedding celebration in the grounds of her parents' Berkshire home was reported to have cost around $320,000.
Pippa Middleton celebrated her nuptials in a glass marquee on the grounds of her family home.
"My guess is it would be way less extravagant than Pippa Middleton’s and much lower-key than William and Kate’s wedding," Juror said.
WHO FOOTS THE BILL?
Tradition may suggest the bride's family pay for the wedding expenses, but the royals will be picking up the tab for Meghan and Harry's celebration. "As was the case with the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Royal Family will pay for the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards" reads a statement from Kensington Palace.
Full statement from @KensingtonRoyal about #princeharry & #meghanmarkle’s wedding next May. The Queen & DoE will obviously be there, as will Meghan’s parents. The Royal Family will pay for the wedding. #RoyalWedding2018 pic.twitter.com/wzDh3wx1lx— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) November 28, 2017
WHAT WILL MEGHAN'S LAST NAME BE?
Once Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, . "Junior members of the royal family have the option of using the surname," royal historian and author Carolyn Harris tells Town & Country. But royals rarely use their surnames. More on that, here.
She will also likely receive a title from the Queen on her wedding day. It's a pretty safe bet Prince Harry will be given the title of Duke, and Meghan Duchess, but the question remains of where? Sussex is available, and could be a likely choice.
Meghan will also hold the rank of princess, but she won't be known as Princess Meghan. According to the customs of British peerage, a woman takes the title of her husband, meaning Meghan would become HRH Princess Henry of Wales, but she's not a British "blood" princess, so calling her Princess Meghan would be incorrect. More on that, here.
With around 1,900 guests invited to the Westminster Abbey service and a global television audience estimated at two billion people, Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding was a major production. Yet history shows that the weddings of second siblings in the royal family aren't always understated either.
Sarah, the Duchess of York and Prince Andrew on their wedding day.
Both Princess Anne, the Queen's second child, and her younger brother Prince Andrew got married in Westminster Abbey. Anne's marriage to Mark Phillips in 1973 was declared a public holiday and both occasions attracted a global television audience of an estimated 500 million. The royals also followed the tradition of having a carriage procession after the ceremony, which is a chance for the newlyweds to wave to the crowds before they appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace for the moment everyone is waiting for—the first public kiss.
Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones on their wedding day, June 19,1999.
But could Harry follow Prince Edward's example of a more private wedding day? Edward was the only one of Charles's siblings not to follow the pattern of previous royal weddings when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. Like Meghan and Harry, the couple chose to have the ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor and according to the BBC, their reception St. George's Hall was primarily for family and friends.
Harry and Markle might not have set the date yet, but one thing is for sure. Whether they follow the tradition of a grand royal wedding or not, if and when the actress marries into the monarchy, it will be the society event of the year.
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors