11 Ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Wedding Made History
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex broke tradition in a number of ways when they became husband and wife.
A wedding for the ages
The news in January 2020 that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “stepping back” from their royal duties was a bittersweet and confusing piece of news for fans of the couple and of the royal family in general. But though the pair aren’t senior royals anymore, their show-stopping wedding on May 19, 2018, was as royal an affair as any. In addition to being beautiful and star-studded, the wedding also made history in a number of ways.
Markle is an American
In November 2017, Meghan Markle became the first American to be officially engaged to a British royal. A few other firsts the Duchess checks off: She is a woman of color, divorced, a well-known actor, and was raised Catholic. Markle was baptized and confirmed in the Church of England in March 2018. Don’t miss these royal wedding etiquette rules every member of the family must follow.
It fell on a weekend
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry exchanged vows on May 19, 2018, which broke a couple royal traditions. To start, the wedding was on a Saturday. In the past, royal weddings have typically been held on a weekday. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip got married on a Thursday, Prince Charles and Princess Diana on a Wednesday, and Prince William and Kate Middleton on a Friday. Also, the wedding was held on the same day as Britain’s historic soccer cup competition, the Emirates FA Final Cup. Prince William is the president of the Football Association and usually makes an appearance at the Final Cup. But in 2018, we guess he had other events to attend!
The cake was untraditional
Harry and Meghan’s choice of cake—a lemon elderflower-flavored concoction with buttercream frosting—broke royal tradition in more ways than one. Multi-tiered fruitcake has typically been the wedding cake choice of royal couples before them. The tiers of the cake, baked by East London baker Claire Ptak, were on their own separate stands, rather than the traditional stacked tiers of royal wedding cakes past. Learn more about just what was so special about Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake.
It wasn’t a holiday
When Prince Harry and Markle announced their engagement, the British government told the public that there “isn’t a precedent in this area” for a bank holiday to be declared for the royal wedding. The date, however, fell on a Saturday, so crowds were still able to gather to celebrate the royal nuptials.
It didn’t have the same grandeur
Yes, in comparison to your average wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was still grand. But compared to other royal weddings, it was much more low-key. Since Prince Harry is sixth in line to the throne, there was less pressure for him to have a particularly traditional wedding. It was held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle just outside of London, which is a little quainter than Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate Middeton were wed. Don’t miss these secrets about Windsor Castle you never knew.
There was no balcony kiss
Many recently married royal couples have kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. However, because their ceremony took place in Windsor, England, the couple did not make the hourlong trip back to London and Buckingham Palace to capture this classic royal moment. Instead, the two shared their first kiss as a married couple just outside St. George’s Chapel.
There was no procession through London
You probably noticed this iconic royal event didn’t happen either. Because the couple did not return to London after the ceremony, there was no procession through the U.K. capital for the public to congratulate them—instead, there was a procession through Windsor directly after the ceremony at 1 p.m. local time. Find out the special flower that must be included in every royal wedding bouquet.
Members of the public were invited
Harry and Meghan wanted the public to feel as though they were a part of the celebration as much as possible—so they invited 2,640 members of the public to watch them arrive and depart from St. George’s Chapel. Those lucky enough to be chosen to attend the royal wedding were allowed onto the grounds of the castle for the nuptials but not in the chapel itself.
There weren’t many dignitaries as guests
According to royal sources speaking to Vanity Fair, the wedding was planned to be a family affair, not an official state occasion. Because of this, the royal couple did not feel as much pressure to invite global dignitaries, members of foreign royal families, or politicians. There were still a lot of important and well-known people in attendance but definitely not as many as William and Kate’s wedding. Don’t miss these bizarre perks of the royal family.
There were many more celebrities in attendance
Given Markle’s career, she chose to invite many of her celebrity friends to the royal wedding. She is very close with stars such as Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Serena Williams, and her Suits co-star Patrick J. Adams, all of whom attended her nuptials. Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and David and Victoria Beckham also made appearances. And despite speculation that he hadn’t received an invitation, Sir Elton John was in the crowd, accompanied by his husband, David Furnish. Find out the reason Harry and Meghan had to return most of their wedding gifts.
Meghan’s father did not escort her down the aisle
Meghan Markle was certainly not afraid to do her wedding her own way. She had every intention of having her father, Thomas Markle, walk her down the aisle, but because of poor health, he was unable to attend the royal wedding. Instead, Prince Charles—Harry’s father—escorted Meghan to the altar. She walked down the aisle unescorted until she reached the Quire (where the main royal guests were seated), and Prince Charles joined her there. In the past, royal brides have sometimes chosen someone other than their fathers to walk them down the aisle, but walking the first part solo is definitely a first. Don’t miss these other tiny details you probably missed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.