COMMENTARY: A spectacle that will entrance the world
The buildup to the wedding has been overshadowed for the last week by the “Markle Debacle” — the unfortunate shenanigans of Meghan Markle’s family.
But now it seems certain her dad Thomas — who allegedly did a deal with paparazzi photographers — won’t be here for health reasons we can turn to the big day and start to enjoy the build up!
As soon as Meghan’s mum Doria arrived in London — and was given a police escort from the airport — a calm seemed to descend on proceedings.
Meghan will be glad to see her face, and draw some good karma from the 61-year-old yoga teacher.
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The first wedding I covered was that of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986 at Westminster Abbey.
The mood is different this time because the action is away from London, and Windsor is much smaller.
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While 2,000 guests attended William and Kate’s nuptials in Westminster Abbey in 2011, there will only be 600 at Harry and Meghan’s in St George’s Chapel.
But the crowds will still be massive — and very diverse.
Meghan is attracting fans from all over the world, but especially of course from her native U.S. and Canada, where her role in Suits won her an army of admirers.
Her mixed race origins have also brought new interest in the royal family from people who might not have identified with the ancient institution in the past.
Nobody does a royal wedding quite like the British — and I expect Saturday to be a memorable spectacle which will entrance the world.
What happens next?
Harry and Meghan are anxious to start work asap and get involved in causes dear to their heart.
They even have a job next Tuesday with Charles and Camilla at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Prince of Wales’s charities as he approaches 70.
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There will be a honeymoon — but not just yet and they will try to sneak off without anyone noticing!
No one seems to have discovered where or when Harry had his stag night.
With Charles and Camilla nearly both in their 70s, the Duke of Edinburgh retired and the Queen 92, the royals need Meghan and the fresh energy she will bring.
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I don’t think she and Harry will compete with William and Kate, but compliment each other.
They are already known as the “Fab Four” and they seem to get on well with no petty jealousies.
Kate, of course, has her hands full with three young kids, so she is probably grateful Meghan has come on the scene and is giving her a bit of a rest!
Don’t forget though that Meghan turns 37 in August.
She and Harry will want to start a family as well as soon as possible, so although they have a busy year ahead with trips to Australia and elsewhere, Meghan’s activities could be slowed down if she gets pregnant.
The couple are heavily into the “Heads Together” Mental Health campaign, and Meghan will also want to focus on women’s and children’s issues as she has done in the past.
The only word of warning I would give her is not to get too preachy — the Brits don’t like that!
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History and Diana
On the morning of the wedding, the Queen will announce new titles for Harry and Meghan, and the favourite is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The only other Duke of Sussex was a son of George III and a black sheep of the family!
Prince Augustus, King George’s sixth son, suffered from asthma and was too weak to join the military.
He was sent abroad and got married in Rome, but the king annulled the marriage as he hadn’t been consulted, a problem which occurred again with a second wife.
He died in 1843 with no heir and the title lapsed — perhaps until now!
The couple will also have a coat of arms which could combine family symbols from both the Windsors and Markles.
But after the bad publicity surrounding Meghan’s family that could be difficult!
Princess Diana will play a part in the big day. Her sister, Lady Jane Fellowes, will make a reading, and Harry included two of Diana’s diamonds in Meghan’s engagement ring.
Even white roses, Diana’s favourite flowers, will decorate the chapel.
There are bound to be more nods to Harry’s beloved mother — and some surprises (remember how William and Kate suddenly appeared in Charles’s Aston Martin and roared down the Mall?)
The weather looks like it will behave and it should be a great day.
Phil Dampier is the author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan in their Own Words. He has been reporting on the royal family for 32 years.