It’s looking light on Meghan’s side. Mother Doria Ragland, 61, appears to be the only close relative inside the chapel since her father, Thomas Markle Snr, is incapacitated due to ill health. Estranged half-siblings, Samantha Markle, 53, a former model writing a memoir entitled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, and Thomas Markle Jnr, 51, a window fitter who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly holding a gun to a girlfriend’s head in an argument, are not on the guest list. Their lack of an invite is perhaps unsurprising given they have graced acres of newsprint and hours of airtime venting bile against their sister.
The Markle family has become a big attraction in the red-top circus, successfully hijacking the news agenda in the final days. Meghan’s uncle, Michael Markle, 78, a retired US diplomat, is reportedly “upset and surprised” at his lack of an invite. Another uncle, Frederick Markle, 75, who as “Bishop Dismas” reportedly runs a small chapel as leader of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic church in America, has refused to speak to the media – to the undoubted relief of Kensington Palace.
A man poses with memorabilia and cardboard cutouts outside Windsor Castle
The lack of an invitation to the wedding hasn’t deterred Thomas Markle Jr – who earlier this year wrote an open letter urging Prince Harry not to marry his half-sister – from hopping on a plane to the UK. Following a sudden charge of heart on the desirability of the ceremony, he appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror standing outside Windsor Castle under the headline: “My sister will be the perfect modern princess.”
His ex-wife, Tracey Dooley, has also been involved, despite her not having seen Meghan for 20 years. She announced her arrival in London – supposedly to appear on ITV’s Good Morning Britain – along with sons (and Meghan’s nephews) Tyler and Thomas. Good Morning Britain now says they will not be appearing on the show.
Why is the royal wedding coverage being run by gossip website TMZ rather than Kensington Palace?
The dress, the preacher, the kiss: key moments from the royal wedding
The royal press office did its best to keep a lid on excessive media coverage of Meghan family, writing to British newspapers and requesting they respect the family’s privacy in the runup to the ceremony. Unfortunately, this arrangement disintegrated when the Mail on Sunday revealed Meghan’s father Thomas Sr had worked with a photo agency to sell staged pictures to the celebrity press.
Then the floodgates opened, with the world’s media demanding answers from the palace. Instead, both UK newspapers and the royal palace seem to have been reliant on TMZ for information, as it ran regular interviews with Thomas Sr as he prevaricated over whether to attend to the wedding. Meanwhile, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha claims to have been hospitalized after her boyfriend reportedly crashed their car while trying to avoid a photographer.
Members of the armed forces rehearse for the wedding in the streets of Windsor
Weddings, funerals, garden parties, jubilees. Royalty has got them all down to a fine art. Except this one, where it lost its grip on the news agenda.
Whispers below stairs, apparently, are that it would never have happened under the experienced and capable Sir Christopher Geidt. He’s the Queen’s former private secretary, who was forced out last year after palace infighting.
There are three seats of royal power; Buckingham Palace and the Queen, Clarence House and Prince Charles, and Kensington Palace and William and Harry. In this case, the buck must stop with the latter. “Christopher would have known how to handle things,” one former colleague confided to the Daily Mail. “In particular, he would have known how to handle Harry.”
Isn’t Harry’s family also a bit dysfunctional?
Yes. This point hasn’t been lost on Australia’s Daily Telegraph, which dedicated Friday’s front page to pictures of the Windsors drinking, under the tagline “Worried about the Markles? Meet the Windsors”.
Who else is going to be attending?
Meghan’s glossy posse of friends have been jetting in. Jessica Mulroney, Canadian stylist and daughter-in-law of the former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, was spotted shopping near Kensington Palace. The fashion designer Misha Nonoo, the couple’s rumoured matchmaker, shared Instagram snaps of herself in London. The Indian actor Priyanka Chopra and Markle’s former agent Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, are believed en route.
Marcus Anderson, the director of upmarket members’ club Soho House in London, where Meghan and Harry had their first date in 2016, is certain to be on the list.
Fans of the US legal drama, Suits, can expect to see co-stars Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty, as well as her on-screen husband Patrick Adams. Royal staples will include the Beckhams and Sir Elton John.
Is there anything in particular to look out for during the ceremony?
The ceremony in Windsor Castle’s chapel is, unsurprisingly, Anglican given Harry is in the line-of-succession to take over as monarch and therefore become head of the Church of England. Although a group of English clergyman will be involved, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the breakout star is likely to be Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American head of the Episcopal church in the US, who is giving the main address. London-based gospel group the Kingdom Choir will also perform, along with teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who was personally invited by Meghan.
What if you don’t have an invite? Who’s actually going to turn up to watch this wedding in person?
First the royal fanatics, camped out behind the barriers, are decked in union flags – a godsend for desperate foreign TV networks with no one else to interview in the week before the wedding. Secondly, the handpicked extras. They are 1,200 members of the public who have been invited to stand in the Windsor Castle grounds to cheer the couple. They will provide a good TV backdrop but must bring their own picnic. Finally, there are general tourists. Around 100,000 are expected to brave Windsor train queues, airport-style security and ceremonial horse ordure. Huge screens have been set up around town.
Around 5,000 journalists and media workers have been accredited to cover the wedding. Interest is particularly enormous in the US, a republic whose endless fascination with the British royal family is boosted by the presence of a California-born bride. US TV networks have responded by bringing in their top presenters for non-stop coverage of the event, despite the time difference requiring an early start. ABC will start its broadcast at 5am for viewers on the east coast. NBC, meanwhile, has flown presenters Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb to the UK, built an enormous temporary studio on the roof of a Windsor hotel and will dedicate its four-hour flagship Today programme to the ceremony. The interest has led to enormous demand for any vaguely authentic royal commentator, who is willing to stand in front of a camera and offer insight while the ceremony is under way.
Hang on, how is the British media doing? How will the press be managing it on the day to keep them away?
The British media has done its best to keep up, with newspapers promising commemorative photo supplements and raking over the history of the Markle family. The BBC, ITV and Sky News will broadcast live during the day from temporary studios. All footage will be provided by the BBC on a pooled basis, while a representative of the Press Association will be allowed inside the chapel to provide coverage for print.
Royal procession in Windsor during the wedding rehearsals.
The wedding dress is top secret. Designers Ralph & Russo, whose £56,000 couture dress Meghan wore for her official engagement photos, are rumoured to be the chosen ones. One eagle-eyed shopper snapped rolls of ivory silk lying on a wooden table at the London premises of Joel & Sons Fabrics, which holds a royal warrant. They were labelled “Ralph & Russo”, the Sunday Express reported, commenting that ivory would be suitable for a second-time bride. Of course, the silk could have been for a completely different bride.
Harry is expected to wear uniform. But maybe not that of the Household Cavalry because of his beard. The army does not like beards – though Harry has previously appeared in his Blues and Royal uniform sporting facial hair. So, bets are on him wearing the uniform of the Captain General of the Royal Marines. It is a more senior title, and one he inherited upon Prince Philip’s retirement last year. The Marines don’t mind beards – as much.
How much is this going to cost and who is paying for it?
We will never know. Prince Charles is said to be footing the bill for the “core elements” of his younger son’s nuptials. That won’t include security, which is met by taxpayers. For William and Kate’s wedding, at Westminster Abbey, the security bill was £6m, with almost £3m spent on police overtime costs, according to one report. This is a smaller affair. Costs to the council in road closures, parking suspensions and the recent resurfacing of part of the carriage route will undoubtedly add up.
What are the worst wedding souvenirs?
The choice is endless. Most original goes to Meghan’s nephew Tyler Dooley, 25, a cannabis farmer in Oregon, where marijuana is legal. He is reportedly planning a potent new hybrid strain of cannabis to mark the wedding called Markle’s Sparkle. Should his aunt and Harry ever visit him at home, he will be “more than happy” to offer them a sample.
Another inventive gem – away from the mugs, plates, commemorative tea towels and cardboard cutouts – are the “Crown Jewels Heritage condoms”. At £10 for a box of four, described as “fit for a prince” they are sold in a souvenir box that plays God Save the Queen and The Star Spangled Banner when opened.Will the royals be more popular after all of this?
A YouGov poll commissioned by the anti-monarchy group Republic said that two-thirds of the British public are not interested in the royal wedding. Judging by the readership for stories involving the wedding, it seems some members of the British public may be saying one thing to pollsters and then acting differently.
However, the poll did suggest that while the majority of the British public are fans of the Queen, they are less keen on her heir Prince Charles. As a result, the successful launch of a new generation of royals, including Meghan, could be crucial to ensuring the institution survives long into the future.
When is this all going to be over?
Once coverage of the wedding, the aftermath and the honeymoon is complete there will be years of coverage of Meghan and Harry setting up their new life together. If you’re looking for them to disappear from the media’s gaze any time soon then you’re probably going to be disappointed.