Royal wedding: Everything you need to know to be up-to-date on Harry and Meghan's big day

If you've missed the whole build-up, here are the essential details

Rachel Hosie
Friday 18 May 2018 18:20 BST
Royal wedding countdown: The plan so far for Harry and Meghan

Given the months of build up and wall-to-wall coverage of recent days, it is probably difficult to have arrived at this point unaware that a royal wedding is happening this weekend.

But if you have managed to tune out much of the noise thus far, you may fear that with the nuptials now looming there are some gaps in your knowledge that you are suddenly desperate to fill.

So, from the Mr Markle media debacle to the unconventional choice of cake, here’s everything you need to know about the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

When and where is the wedding taking place?

It is all happening on Saturday 19 May 2018 at midday, with the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating. The ceremony will be held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry was christened.

At 1pm, the couple will travel through Windsor in the Ascot Landau carriage, after which they will have an afternoon reception followed by a private reception for close friends and family in the evening.

What’s all the fuss around Meghan’s father, Thomas?

Over the past week, reports have claimed Thomas Markle wasn’t coming to the wedding, then that he was, then that he wasn’t, but Kensington Palace has now confirmed Meghan’s father is not coming to the UK for the wedding.

Mr Markle, 73, lives in Mexico and originally said he wanted to attend the wedding. However, he suffered a reported heart attack and on Wednesday morning he underwent heart surgery and as such was too ill to travel.

The other complication is the furore surrounding staged paparazzi photos - earlier this year, Mr Markle was seemingly unknowingly snapped getting measured for a suit, looking at a book about British landmarks and reading all about his daughter online in an internet cafe.

However it has since been revealed that these photos were staged and Mr Markle had been paid to pose for the snaps, which then sold for lots of money.

What’s the deal with the Markle family?

Over the past few weeks, the Markle family has been firmly in the spotlight, and not just because of paparazzi scandals.

Ms Markle has two half-siblings, Thomas Markle Jr and Samantha Grant, who says she is writing a book entitled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.

Grant has criticised Meghan in various interviews, but she hasn’t been as outspoken as Thomas Jr, who wrote a letter to Prince Harry trying to persuade him not to marry Meghan, followed by a letter to his sister asking for an invitation to the wedding.

Who’s walking the bride down the aisle?

Kensington Palace today confirmed that given her father’s absence, Ms Markle will not be walked down the aisle by her mother, Doria Ragland, but rather by Prince Charles.

However the bride will start her procession by herself, in an effort to make a feminist statement, before a member of the clergy meets her at the West Door of St George’s Chapel.

She will subsequently be joined by her 10 young bridesmaids and page boys, and once she reaches the Quire, the Prince of Wales will escort her towards her husband-to-be but will not “give her away,” and will stand back as she approaches Prince Harry.

Who are the best man and maid of honour?

In a role reversal from the last royal wedding, the Duke of Cambridge will be Prince Harry’s best man. Markle, however, is not having a maid of honour.

Who are the page boys and bridesmaids?

Harry and Meghan will have six bridesmaids aged between two and seven, including three-year-old Princess Charlotte, and four page boys aged between four and seven, including four-year-old Prince George.

What are they going to eat?

Perhaps unsurprising given Ms Markle is a self-confessed foodie, wedding guests will enjoy on-trend bowl dishes rather than a sit-down meal at the afternoon reception in St George’s Hall.

There will also be two-bite canapés, which will be made from fresh, seasonal, British produce in the royal kitchens at Windsor Castle. Head chef Mark Flanagan has revealed that the royal couple have been heavily involved in choosing the food for their big day and have ensured that as much local, seasonal produce was used as possible.

Sweet treats will also be on offer including chocolate truffles, small crèmes brûlées, yellow macaroons and biscuits adorned with mango panna cotta topping.

What’s the cake?

Shunning the traditional fruit cake, Harry and Meghan have opted for a lemon and elderflower sponge which is being made by Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Bakery in east London.

With her team of six bakers, Ms Ptak has been working on the cake in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace for the past five days, using 200 Amalfi lemons, 10 bottles of Sandringham elderflower cordial, 20kg of butter, 20kg of sugar and 500 organic eggs from Suffolk.

The cake will consist of layered lemon sponge that’s been drizzled with an elderflower syrup and sandwiched using buttercream and lemon curd, while the outside will be decorated using a white buttercream made from elderflower Swiss meringue.

Royal wedding cake: Layered lemon and elderflower served up for Harry and Meghan

What will Harry and Meghan wear?

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated detail of the whole celebration will be Meghan’s dress. The rumour mill has gone into overdrive in recent weeks with people speculating over which designer has been given the honour of creating a gown that will inevitably go down in fashion history.

Current front-runners are Burberry, Erdem and Ralph & Russo. Markle’s mother Doria Ragland was spotted travelling to the UK with a Burberry garment bag, raising speculation that the bride will wear a dress created by the designer, if she is to match her mother.

Some believe that she’ll wear a Ralph & Russo dress, having worn an opulent gown by the same designer during her official engagement photoshoot.

Who’s taking the official pictures?

Alexi Lubomirski, who also took the couple’s official engagement photos.

Where are the couple staying before the wedding?

As tradition dictates, Harry and Meghan are spending the night before the wedding apart. Prince Harry will be staying at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park in Ascot with the Duke of Cambridge, whereas Meghan will be a 30 minute drive away with her mother at Cliveden House Hotel, located on a 376 acre National Trust estate in Berkshire.

Who’s footing the bill for the whole spectacle?

The royal family has announced it will be covering the “core elements” of the wedding, but what this entails isn’t entirely clear. Current estimates suggest the whole affair could cost taxpayers over £30 million, with the bulk of that covering security.

Who’s been invited?

As with all weddings, the guestlist has been controversial, with some people feeling miffed at not making the cut.

Many of Meghan’s former Suits co-stars have jetted into London for the proceedings, with Sarah Rafferty, Gabriel Macht, Patrick J Adams and Rick Hoffman all having shared pictures on Instagram from the UK in the past few days.

Various others in Markle’s inner circle will also be joining her in Windsor, including Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, fashion designer Misha Nonoo and Indian actress Priyanka Chopra.

Other celebrities almost certain to be in attendance are the Beckhams and Sir Elton John.

Of course, all senior members of the royal family will be in attendance, including Prince Philip (which wasn’t always a given after his hip replacement last month). Sarah Ferguson, the ex wife of Prince Andrew, however, was not invited to the reception and is reportedly “deeply unhappy” about it.

It would seem that the only close member of Ms Markle’s family to be attending the ceremony is her mother, Doria Ragland. Her estranged half-siblings Samantha Markle, 53, and Thomas Markle Jr, 51, were not invited. Two of Markle’s uncles have also revealed they didn’t make the guest list.

Family and close friends aside, 1,200 members of the public have been invited to watch the royal couple arrive and leave the chapel. The guests were selected to represent “a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have shown strong leadership, and those who have served their communities.”

They have, however, been told to bring their own picnics as they will not be given full meals and could be outside for over four hours.

What will Harry and Meghan’s titles be afterwards?

This is still to be announced however it’s likely Prince Harry will be given a Dukedom which will make Markle a Duchess. The current front-runner is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

How big is the media jamboree?

Around 5,000 journalists and members of the media have been accredited to cover the royal wedding, and that’s not including the many who will be reporting from their newsrooms around the world.

US news organisations have expressed particularly huge interest in the nuptials, with some reportedly paying six-figure sums for the best vantage points overlooking the royal couple’s procession through the town.

Many American networks have flown in their top broadcasters for the event, built temporary studios on hotel roofs and are planning non-stop coverage too.

How can I watch it all?

In the UK, the BBC, ITV and Sky News will all be broadcasting the proceedings live throughout the day. You can also follow The Independent’s live blog.

If I wanted a weird souvenir, what are my options?

Anything you could ever want has seemingly been given a royal wedding makeover, from cannabis to condoms.

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