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Royal wedding LIVE: Meghan Markle's Givenchy dress and preacher Michael Curry steal the show

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Rachel Hosie,Chloe Hubbard
Saturday 19 May 2018 14:04
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Royal wedding: Fans explain why they've come to Windsor to see Harry and Meghan marry

After months of build-up, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now married and hold the titles the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The ceremony, which drew heavily on Meghan's African American heritage, took place at noon at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle and was watched by millions around the world.

100,000 people descended on Windsor, with many camping overnight in a bid to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

Royal weddings have long been occasions steeped in tradition and ceremony, but when Harry and Meghan joined in marriage, it was diversity which was centre stage.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss on the steps of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding

The influence of African-American culture was apparent throughout the service at St George's Chapel in Windsor, from the rousing address of black Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry to the spine-tingling performance of a gospel choir.

Such departures from the conventional Church of England wedding indicates the impact Meghan has had on the House of Windsor.

For she is far from a conventional royal bride.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry leave St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after their wedding

Born in Los Angeles, California, to a white father and African-American mother, Meghan rose through the world of showbusiness with a plum role in the TV series Suits. By the time she met Harry, she was a divorcee, and today became the first mixed-race member of the royal family.

Few things illustrated the disparate cultural beginnings of bride and groom better than the religious figures who appeared at their wedding.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby officiated with the measured solemnity common to Church of England services, while Chicago-born Bishop Curry riveted the congregation with a fiery delivery of his "Power of Love" address.

His speech touched on issues including slavery and poverty, even channeling the spirit of another celebrated black orator, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

While the bishop's performance may have been a break from the norm for the royal family, it delighted viewers in America.

US journalist Elamin Abdelmahmoud tweeted: "A black reverend preaching to British royalty about the resilience of faith during slavery is 10000000% not what I thought I was waking up for, the royal wedding is good."

Staples of gospel music sat alongside traditional church hymns on the order of service handed out to wedding guests.

Bishop Michael Curry delivered a passionate sermon during the royal wedding ceremony

Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir captivated viewers around the world with a performance of Stand By Me, written by African-American singer Ben E King, and This Little Light Of Mine, a tune which coloured the sound of the civil rights movement.

Ms Gibson later told Sky News: "Both of those are gospel staples you know, they are very well known. Etta James has done this arrangement.

"We really enjoyed it, we really rocked up to that one you know? It was great fun."

Praising the address of Bishop Curry, she added: ""It's what we're actually used to that's the flavour of preachers we're used to, so we were getting very excited."

As the couple slipped away for the signing of the register during the service, another talented black musician, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, took centre stage.

The British cellist - winner of BBC Young Musician 2016 - held the attention of the chapel as he performed several moving pieces which had been selected by the palace.

The 19-year-old later told the broadcaster: "It's such an honour and it's something that you could never expect.

"I still don't quite believe it, so it's just an amazing experience."

In further break from tradition Meghan was due to make a speech at the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen on behalf of herself and new husband Prince Harry.

The royal newlywed was one of three people due to address around 600 guests at the event, being held at Windsor Castle's St George's Hall.

Her new husband and the Prince of Wales will also make speeches, Kensington Palace said.

Harry's best man and brother, the Duke of Cambridge, will act as compere, it said in a statement.

To read how we covered the day's festivities please read what was our live coverage below. If it was all a bit too much for you, please read our alternative live blog of the day below - it was a bunting-free zone.

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Kensington Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will today become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

"The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales.  His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel," the statement reads.

"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."

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 08:34
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If you've missed the whole build-up to the royal wedding, congratulations. But if you're suddenly after a crash course, get yourself up to speed with our guide of everything you need to know.

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 08:40
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The order of service has been released.

Precise timings have been revealed as to which members of the royal family are arriving when: Prince Harry and his best man the Duke of Cambridge will arrive at 11.40am, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will follow at 11.42am.

Three minutes later at 11.45am, Markle's mother Doria Ragland will arrive, followed by the Queen at 11.52am.

Hymns being sung include 'Lord of all hopelessness' and 'Guide me, O thou great redeemer.'

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 08:48
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Meghan Markle's father Thomas has said he is "honoured and grateful" that Prince Charles is escorting the bride down the aisle. 

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 08:58
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It's no secret that there's more excitement about the royal wedding in the US than the UK, with thousands of Americans having made the trip across the pond to celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials. But why? American Jonathan Thomas, who has flown over from the States, believes it all comes down to our heritage, history and culture, which Americans don't have in the same way.

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 09:05
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Given Markle's Hollywood career, there will undoubtedly be lots of starry guests in attendance today. Naturally, plenty of her former Suits co-stars have come to the UK for the occasion, but is Oprah joining them? She's been spotted in London over the past two days which has led many people to suspect she may have made the star-studded guest list.

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 09:17
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St George's Chapel has been specially decorated for today's ceremony with multiple impressive flower displays.

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 09:28
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The first celebrity guests to have arrived appear to be Oprah and Idris Elba.

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 09:43
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Our correspondent Maya Oppenheim is on the ground in Windsor talking to royal fans.

Cherry McGregor, 50, from Louisiana, told her: "Me and my 16-year-old daughter came for the weekend. We love the royal family but we really came for the American princess. We would not have been here if it was a British princess. I think the fact she is biracial will add more layers to the royal family and give them more credibility." 

And McGregor certainly isn't alone in her adoration of Markle.

Marlene Wright, 50, from Miami, said: "I love Meghan's style and what she has done for charity. She is a kind person. Her and Harry are such a good match. I really hope she changes race relations. She has already spoken about embracing both sides of her identity."

Asked what it was about the royal family she loved, Sarah Tashman, a 19-year-old American student at Kings College said: "I think they represent emerging history and elegance. Wait do you think I'll get in trouble if I climb up that pole with my flag?"

Once Tashman had walked away, her friend Eleanor Buffet, 18, a British student at Kings College, added: "I think the institution of the royal family is an institution we should question. We should not take the pretty wedding at face value and understand the class values it represents. Saying that, my American Jewish atheist friend loves them".

Brian Charlton, 28, said: "I'm here because it's a day out, it's good fun. We have got a bottle of pink champagne and she's on the wine already," he said jovially gesturing towards his partner. "And I do like the royals. I'm also here because Harry served in the forces like my brother who passed away in Afghanistan. We think Harry is doing this to keep his mum alive."

Rachel Hosie19 May 2018 10:00
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Hours before the ceremony, Buckingham Palace announced that Harry has been given a dukedom - the highest rank in the British peerage - and Meghan will become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex.

In other lofty title news Harry also received Scottish and Northern Irish titles, becoming the Earl of of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, which means Meghan will become the Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.

The title the Duke of Sussex was last used 175 years ago- and Meghan will be history's first Duchess of Sussex.

The first Duke of Sussex was an eccentric son of King George III and his two marriages were deemed illegal.

Prince Augustus Frederick was born in 1773 and died 1843 - and lived in Kensington Palace, where Harry and Meghan also live.

He was musically gifted, had a fine singing voice, and amassed a huge library, a variety of singing birds and a large number of clocks.

Suffering from asthma, George III's sixth son was deemed too delicate to join the military - unlike Harry, who had a 10-year stint in the armed forces, including two deployments to Afghanistan.

Chloe Hubbard19 May 2018 10:01

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