Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel on May 19, and millions of eyes will be on the couple as they tie the knot — but not just because they are royals. Because they are cool royals. While the public was super into Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding, Harry’s big day just feels, well, different. It’ll be loose and fun and free.
To start, the couple have invited 2,640 people to Windsor Castle to take part in the celebration, including people from all walks of life. They’ve said no to that awful royal tradition of a wedding fruitcake, choosing a lemon elderflower cake instead.
The world will be watching Harry (formerly known as the Party Prince across the U.K.) marry Meghan, a divorced television actress from America, and because he often forgoes royal tradition, he’s become the cultural barometer for the Queen.
“It’s so refreshing,” says royal commentator Eloise Parker. “William and Kate are very traditional, and they haven’t done anything outside the rule book. They’ve stuck to traditions and had the traditional wedding. They stuck to the fruitcake. Kate’s dress was covered, traditional. I bet Meghan will choose something unusual. William and Kate are stuffier, and Prince Harry has had the reputation for years as a party prince, and now he’s marrying a beautiful American actress, who’s not in pantyhose and not [caring] about a hair out of place.”
Harry bending the royal rule book means the public is expecting some major breaks from tradition, because he has a little leeway.
“Windsor offers them a slightly more personal and private setting,” says Parker. “Still, the massive amount of media attention means they’ll be on full display, especially in the open top carriage to take them from the chapel to the reception. We’ll get a really good look at Meghan’s dress.”
But the public seems even more interested this time around, says Parker, because Harry has been a barometer for the queen on where the royal family needs to go in order to maintain engagement with younger people. In other words, he’s important. And it’s important for Harry to be himself. It helps the whole family.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a formal advisor as to what’s going on culturally,” Parker says. “The royal family only survives on public approval. There are plenty of people who don’t believe there should be a royal family, so it’s very important the queen keeps her finger on the pulse of what’s going on, especially with the next generation coming up.”
Just the fact that Harry is allowed to marry a non-traditional bride means the royal family has come a long way. And having her as his fiancee has been amazing for the family.
“Everyone talks about how much they love Meghan, she’s refreshing, this beautiful American actress. She brings glamour to the royal family. Kate is a pretty girl and nicely turned out, but she’s so reserved it’s impossible to know what’s going on behind the eyes,” says Parker. “Harry has a cooler edge and Meghan has a cooler edge than Kate and that will be reflected throughout the wedding. They are more cosmopolitan and expect a more varied guest list.”
Does William mind his brother gets the spotlight now?
“It really doesn’t matter if Harry outshines William, they want privacy for their children,” Parker says. “Time away from the cameras to raise their children is what he wants. There will be a time in his life when he won’t be able to do that, he is going to be king. He’ll happily give the attention to Harry so he can raise his own kids in peace.”
Harry’s wedding will be watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide, topping the biggest-ever global audience for a TV event, which was in 2008 for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, reports the BBC.
“There will be viewing parties all over the U.K.,” says Parker. “We’ve had a great streak of good summer weather, so there will be street parties with bunting, massive celebrations. British people love an excuse to have a party.”
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