By Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden
WINDSOR, England (Reuters)
Prince Harry and his bride Meghan married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony that blended ancient English ritual with African American culture, watched up close by royals and celebrities and from afar by a global TV audience of millions
Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, Meghan was accompanied up the aisle at St George’s Chapel in Windsor by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before she and Harry exchanged vows and were proclaimed husband and wife.
The union of Harry, a former royal wild child and sixth-in-line to the British throne, and actress Meghan, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white, brought a measure of modern glamour and diversity into the monarchy.
The couple kissed on the steps of the chapel as they emerged into the sunlight after the ceremony, delighting vast crowds who had descended on the genteel town to witness a spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry.
Newly styled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed those titles on them, the couple then sat in an open-top horse-drawn coach for a tour of Windsor, cheered by a sea of well-wishers along every inch of the route.
The local authority said just over 100,000 people were in Windsor for the occasion, which unfolded under clear blue skies.
While typical of royal weddings in some ways, the ceremony also broke with tradition, in particular when U.S. Episcopalian bishop Michael Bruce Curry delivered a passionate sermon that was a far cry from the sober tones of the Church of England.
“There’s power in love,” he boomed at a congregation that included Queen Elizabeth, senior royals and celebrities ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Elton John, George Clooney and David Beckham.
“Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love knows what I mean,” said Curry in an energetic address that quoted Martin Luther King.
African-American Karen Long, who was among the crowds in Windsor listening as the ceremony was relayed on loudspeakers, was one of those who appreciated the bishop’s fiery address.
“It was a moment for African-Americans,” said Long, who had come from Houston, Texas, with her sister and a group of friends, all dressed as bridesmaids. “The idea that Harry allowed that and acknowledged it, it was the perfect blend between her culture and the royal culture.”
As well as traditional Church of England anthems and delicate English choral music, the ceremony also featured a gospel choir singing “Stand by Me”, the 1960s hit by American soul singer Ben E. King.
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, 61, accompanied her daughter to the chapel in a vintage Rolls Royce and shed tears of emotion at several points during the ceremony.
Meghan entered the chapel unescorted, offering TV viewers and the congregation a first good look at her hotly anticipated wedding dress, which was created by British designer Clare Waight Keller of the French fashion house Givenchy.
Harry, looking nervous, appeared to say: “Thanks Pa” to his father, and “You look amazing!” to his beaming bride.
In further breaks with tradition, Markle, 36, did not vow to obey her husband; while Harry, who is three years her junior, wore a wedding ring – unlike other senior male royals such as his older brother Prince William.
Harry’s office announced that at a private wedding reception later there would be speeches not only by Charles and Harry but also by Meghan herself – another unusual feature as in traditional English weddings brides do not usually make a speech.
Before becoming engaged to Harry, Meghan, who starred in TV legal drama “Suits”, had spoken out on a number of feminist causes.
Keep reading …