Excitement and anticipation has begun to build up ahead of the British royal wedding next Saturday.
Britain’s Prince Harry will tie the knot with American actress Meghan Markle in a union of youthful royalty and Hollywood glamour expected to reinvigorate the venerable House of Windsor.
Harry is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth and sixth-in-line to the throne and will marry Markle, star of US TV drama “Suits” next Saturday at Windsor Castle, home to the British royal family for nearly 1,000 years.
With celebrities expected to join the queen and senior royals for the ceremony and reception, thousands of journalists from across the globe will descend on the picturesque town of Windsor.
Harry’s father Prince Charles said during a visit to France this week “It’s absolutely marvellous. It’s going to be a very special day for everybody.”
Harry, 33, a former army officer and one-time royal wild child, met his bride-to-be on a blind date in July 2016 after being set up through a mutual friend. Markle, 36, said she knew little about her royal date while Harry said he had never heard of Markle or watched her TV series.
However, it was love at first sight, and after just two dates, he whisked her off to Botswana for an intimate holiday, camping under the stars.
“The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect,” Harry said in an interview to mark the engagement last November.
“This beautiful woman just tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.”
Saturday’s wedding will take place at St George’s Chapel of Windsor Castle, the queen’s home west of London and the oldest and largest inhabited fortress in the world.
Some 40 monarchs have called the castle home and the chapel contains the remains of 10 kings, including Henry VIII and George VI, Elizabeth’s father.
Set against all this tradition, Markle is a stark contrast in modernity. As a divorcee, with a white father and African-American mother, her background has provided a source of huge interest and comment, not all positive.
Harry’s Kensington Palace office issued a rebuke to the media in November 2016, decrying the sexism and racism Markle had suffered in some press reports.
Markle’s family has continued to come under scrutiny, with her half-siblings criticizing her in newspapers and saying they had been snubbed after not receiving invitations to the wedding.
However, both her divorced parents, mother Doria Ragland, a clinical therapist, and father Thomas Markle, a former TV lighting director for soaps and sitcoms, will play “important roles” on the day.
Markle is due to arrive at the chapel in a car with her mother, while her father will escort her down the aisle.