The Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will take place at noon on Saturday, May 19, 2018 in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Their marriage will be the 76th wedding among members of the United Kingdom's Royal Family in recorded history, and anyone watching in person or on televised or streaming broadcasts is sure to witness a fair share of deeply rooted British symbolism and traditions, whether they are aware of what's happening in front of them or not.
The full Order of Service will be published on the Royal Family's website on Saturday morning, just prior to the wedding itself.
In the meantime, or in lieu of, here are full details about 11 significant Royal wedding traditions and their symbolism you can expect to see when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married.
1. The Instrument of Consent
While Queen Elizabeth II gave her official consent for the marriage on March 14, an image of the signed Instrument of Consent was released on the Royal Family's Instagram account with the following statement on May 13.
"Bearing The Queen's signature, the Instrument of Consent records Her Majesty's consent to the Marriage of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle. The design to the left of the text incorporates a red dragon, the heraldic symbol of Wales, together with the UK's floral emblems — the rose, thistle & shamrock. It also features Prince Harry’s Label, including three tiny red escallops from the Spencer family Arms. To the right of the text is another rose, the national flower of the USA, and golden poppies — the state flower of California, where Ms Markle was born. Below the Welsh leek & Prince Harry's Label are olive branches, adopted from the Great Seal of the United States. The Instrument of Consent is sealed with the Great Seal of the Realm, which is attached to the foot of the document by woven cords sealed within the Great Seal itself."
2. St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle
Construction on St. George's chapel began in 1475 by Edward IV and was completed by Henry VIII in 1528.
It is one of the few remaining chapels known as a Royal Peculiar, "a Church of England parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocese and the archdiocese in which it lies and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch."
This means the Most Revd. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury will officiate only with the permission of the Rt Revd. David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, who will be there as well.
Additionally, the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, will give the day's address (i.e., sermon). Based in Chicago, "Curry is the first African-American to have served as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, an offshoot of the Church of England in the United States [and] part of the worldwide Anglican Communion."
This will be the sixteenth Royal wedding held at Windsor, following in the footsteps of these:
- The Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863
- Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein in 1866
- Princess Louise and The Marquess of Lorne in 1871
- Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia in 1879
- Princess Frederica of Hanover and Luitbert, Von Pawel Rammingen in 1880
- Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany and Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 1882
- Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Aribert of Anhalt in 1891
- Princess Alice Mary of Albany and Prince Alexander of Teck in 1904
- Princess Margaret of Connaught and Prince Gustaf Adolph of Sweden in 1905
- Lady Helena Cambridge and Major John Gibbs in 1919
- Anne Abel Smith and David Liddell-Grainger in 1957
- Lady Helen Windsor and Timothy Taylor in 1992
- Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999
- The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and Camilla) in 2005
- Peter Philips and Autumn Kelly in 2008
3. The Order of the Garter
St. George's Chapel has additional significance as the "spiritual home" and/or "mother church" of the Order of the Garter.
Formerly known as the Most Noble Order of the Garter, it is "an order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348 and regarded as the most prestigious British order of chivalry ... Appointments are made at the Sovereign's sole discretion. Membership of the Order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 living members, or Companions."
In addition, "the Order can also include certain extra members (members of the British Royal Family and foreign monarchs), known as Supernumerary Knights and Ladies."
Prince William has been included in that category since 2008, while Prince Harry is not (yet) a member.
4. Horses and carriages
It is expected that both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will arrive at the chapel by car, later departing via horse-drawn carriage.
If the weather is fair, one of the five carriages kept by the Royal Mews and known as an Ascot Landau will be used.
The Crown Equerry, Col. Toby Browne "describes the Ascot Landau as a 'wonderfully bright, small, lovely carriage, very easy for people to see — the passengers can sit up quite high. So there's lots of visibility for everybody.'"
If it is raining, the Scottish Stage Coach will be used.
Coachman Natalie Ozanne "describes the Coach as 'a big favourite as it has a glass ceiling, so crowds higher up, people positioned higher up — which there will be a lot of in Windsor — can see in, it’s very good for that.' The Coach is emblazoned with the Royal Arms of Scotland and the Insignia of the Order of the Thistle, unlike all the other carriages, which bear the Royal Arms for England and