Meghan Markle and Prince Harry kiss on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following their wedding Windsor, Britain May 19, 2018 - Reuters
WINDSOR, England (Reuters) - Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony that blended ancient English ritual with African American culture, infusing the 1,000-year-old British monarchy with a blast of modernity.
In a medieval chapel at Windsor Castle that 39 English kings and queens have called home since 1066, Harry and Meghan exchanged vows watched up close by royals and celebrities, and from afar by a global TV audience of many millions.
Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, the American actress was accompanied up the aisle of St George’s Chapel by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before she and Harry exchanged vows and were proclaimed husband and wife.
The couple kissed on the steps of the 15th Century chapel, before delighting the sea of well-wishers, some of whom had camped for days to witness the spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry, by touring Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage.
The union of Harry, 33, a former royal wild child and sixth-in-line to the British throne, and 36-year-old Meghan, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white, was like no other the royal family has seen before.
“We can break the barriers down, it can be done,” said 40-year-old black Briton Yvonne Emanuel, one of the 100,000-strong crowd that thronged Windsor’s streets.
The ceremony was typical of royal weddings in many ways. The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor while Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the couple man and wife, beneath the banners of the knights of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest chivalric group dating back to 1348.
The newlyweds will also be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed those titles on them.
But throughout the wedding, there were significant breaks with tradition, in particular when U.S. Episcopalian bishop Michael Bruce Curry delivered a passionate sermon that was a far cry from the sober tones of the Church of England.
“There’s power in love,” he boomed at a congregation that included Queen Elizabeth, senior royals and celebrities ranging from Oprah Winfrey to George Clooney and David Beckham.
“Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love knows what I mean,” said Curry in an energetic address that quoted Martin Luther King.
African-American Karen Long, who was among the crowds in Windsor listening as the ceremony was relayed on loudspeakers, was one of those who appreciated the bishop’s fiery address.
“It was a moment for African-Americans,” said Long, who had come from Houston, Texas, with her sister and a group of friends, all dressed as bridesmaids. “The idea that Harry allowed that and acknowledged it, it was the perfect blend between her culture and the royal culture.”
As well as traditional Church of England anthems and delicate English choral music, the ceremony also featured a gospel choir singing “Stand by Me”, the 1960s hit by American soul singer Ben E. King.
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, 61, accompanied her daughter to the chapel in a vintage Rolls Royce and shed tears of emotion at several points during the ceremony.
Meghan entered the chapel unescorted, offering TV viewers and the congregation a first good look at her hotly anticipated wedding dress, which was created by British designer Clare Waight Keller of the French fashion house Givenchy.
Harry, looking nervous, appeared to say: “Thanks Pa” to his father, and “You look amazing!” to his beaming bride.
In further breaks with tradition, Markle, 36, did not vow to obey her husband; while Harry, who is three years her junior, wore a wedding ring - unlike other senior male royals such as his older brother Prince William.
Before becoming engaged to Harry, Meghan, who starred in TV legal drama “Suits”, had spoken out on a number of feminist causes.
Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan wave as they ride a horse-drawn carriage after their wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018 - Reuters