Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gazed into each other’s eyes and pledged their lifelong love Saturday as they married in front of hundreds of royals, celebrities and friends at St. George’s Chapel and millions of TV viewers around the world.
The picturesque English town of Windsor sparkled on a warm spring day as tens of thousands of people jammed its quaint roads and parks to capture their own part of the spectacular yet elegant royal wedding extravaganza. To kick off the festivities, Queen Elizabeth II honored her red-headed, 33-year-old grandson with a new title: The Duke of Sussex, making Markle the Duchess of Sussex.
The wedding was a global event, thanks to Harry’s status as a senior British royal and Markle’s celebrity after starring on the U.S. television series Suits’ for seven years. Its pomp and ceremony embraced the couple’s trans-Atlantic union, mixing Anglican prayers and tradition, classical music and a gospel choir with a stately horse-drawn carriage ride through Windsor in a spectacle beamed live to tens of millions.
The American actress embraced her new British role in a sleek white silk boat-necked dress designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller. Her sheer veil — down to her waist in front and billowing for what seemed like miles behind her — carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth, the group of countries that roughly corresponds to the former British Empire and is headed by Markle’s new grandmother-in-law, the Queen. The palace said, in addition to the Commonwealth flowers, Markle also selected two other plants on the veil: Wintersweet and, in a nod to the bride’s birthplace, the California poppy.
Harry and best man Prince William wore white gloves and the frock coat uniforms of the Blues and Royals military regiment. Harry kept his full red beard intact — a style decision that had sparked British bets before the wedding.
Markle walked down the aisle alone at first, then was accompanied by Prince Charles and 10 young page boys and bridesmaids. As his father and his bride drew close to the altar, Harry said: ‘‘Thank you, Pa.’’ To Markle, Harry said: ‘‘You look amazing.’’ Markle seemed poised and confident as she delivered her vows without so much as a quiver in her voice. She smiled broadly as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby declared them husband and wife. Harry seemed a bit nervous — but happy.
The sermon offered a particularly rousing U.S. touch, with the leader of the Episcopal Church quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the ‘‘redemptive power of love.’’ The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry delivered an unapologetic Black sermon with heartfelt emotion. The musical selections also included versions of Ben. E. King’s Stand By Me and Etta James’ Amen/This Little Light of Mine.
A host of celebrities and athletes — including Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Elton John, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, James Corden and David and Victoria Beckham — watched from the seats in the Gothic masterpiece at Windsor Castle. As the newest royal couple emerged from the chapel, they kissed. The crowd roared — and just kept cheering —as Harry helped his wife fold her 5 meter (16½ foot) long train into the Ascot Landau carriage as they began their procession through the streets of Windsor.