Often the bride does the majority of the wedding planning, but Prince Harry was able to have a say about a major aspect of his marriage ceremony with Meghan Markle: He chose the processional music for his bride.
The song Harry chose for Meghan to walk down the aisle was Handel’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine,” which was performed live that day by Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas (accompanied by musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonia), according to People. The magazine also reports that Harry was looking for something completely different: “I ended up stumbling across this piece of music, something that epitomizes the whole day, the whole feeling I have for [Meghan].”
What Harry didn’t mention was the song’s original title: According to the British Library, it was “Birthday Ode for Queen Anne.”
Queen Anne was the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1702 to 1714. First performed in 1713, the song celebrated not only Queen Anne’s birthday, but also the beginning of peace after more than a decade of conflict (the War of Spanish Succession began in 1701; peace talks started in 1713). The lyrics, written by the English poet and politician Ambrose Philips, begin, “Eternal source of light divine,” the name we know it by today.
Queen Anne’s reign was short, but her marriage was long and happy, resulting in 18 pregnancies. (Tragically, only one child survived infancy.) She oversaw the development of Britain’s two-party system of government (Whigs and Tories) and the start of the Royal House of Hanover, which began with her death and continued through the reign of Queen Victoria. Here are more little-known facts about past British royal weddings.
Was Harry hoping to bless his nuptials by invoking Queen Anne’s happy and successful marriage? Was he sending the message that he views Meghan as his “queen”—even though it’s unlikely she will ever actually become queen? What we do know for sure is that the song will forever hold deep meaning for both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Don’t miss these 18 other tiny details you may have missed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.