The big day is FINALLY here! Guests begin arriving at Windsor for Harry and Meghan’s wedding as Prince Harry leaves Coworth Park
- Up to 100,000 people have descended on Windsor to see Prince Harry marry his bride Meghan Markle today
- The 2,000-plus excited guests include all senior royals including the Queen and Hollywood royalty too
- Bride-to-be Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland smiled as they arrived at Cliveden House Hotel last night
- Prince Harry and his brother William greeted some of the thousands of well-wishers outside Windsor Castle
- Divorcee will walk half way through chapel alone where Charles will then take her to the altar and his son
Today is the day Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry and the groom is already on his way to Windsor Castle where some of the world’s biggest stars are already arriving to see them wed.
Outside with up to 100,000 fevered fans gathered outside in glorious British sunshine.
Harry enjoyed his last night of single life with best man Prince William at Coworth Park, a five-star country house a stone’s throw from Windsor and was swept out of its gates in a blacked-out people carrier as he went to get ready.
The 2,000-plus excited guests have also started to arrive at Windsor Castle for the biggest royal wedding in Britain since Prince William married Kate in 2011 with more than 21million UK household set to watch and 23million expected to tune in from America.
St George’s Chapel will be packed with royals including the Queen and Prince Charles, who will take Meghan to the altar in the absence of her father Thomas Markle while Harry’s uncle Earl Spencer has already arrived.
Her mother Doria Ragland, 62, will take centre stage as will Hollywood royalty including Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, George Clooney and his wife Amal, tennis star Serena Williams and many of Meghan’s Suits co-stars.
Princess Diana’s son’s whirlwind romance with the US-born actress, 36, has captured the public’s imagination and they will become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they marry.
Last night Harry shook hands with fans and spoke to children in the crowd before he went for his last night of freedom
Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, arriving at Cliveden House Hotel last night
Idris Elba and his girlfriend Sabrina Dhowre a are among the famous stars to arrive at St George’s Chapel in Windsor today
Harry’s uncle Earl Spencer and his wife are also at the ceremony in Windsor this morning
Oprah Winfrey has made the guest list and is seen arriving at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding
En-route! Prince Harry leaves Coworth Park Hotel for his royal wedding after his last night of freedom with best man Prince William
After a secret six-month relationship the couple went public and later confirmed they got engaged in November when he proposed while roasting a chicken in his Kensington Palace flat.
Their big day is finally here after a week of turmoil for Meghan after her father pulled out at the last minute and her estranged relatives flooded into the UK to cash in on her big day.
Tens of thousands of royal fans are in the Berkshire town to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom, as police have effectively created a £30million ring of steel around the castle in a massive security operation.
Many slept on the streets and more have left their homes in the middle of the night or travelled from across the world to see them.
Revellers wearing wedding dresses, union and American flags and other outlandish outfits have been popping Champagne and prosecco since 8am or earlier as they toast the happy couple.
The official 10 Downing Street Twitter account posted a message to the couple from Theresa May, saying: ‘My very best wishes to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day. To all of those joining the national celebration with street parties and other events, have a wonderful day.’
Idris Elba and his fiancee Sabrina Dhowre have been invited to the wedding and arrive at St George’s Chapel in Windsor
Prince Harry’s ex girlfriend Chelsy Davy is seen leaving for the wedding. The South African was in an on-off relationship with the prince for seven years and Pippa Middleton is also on her way
Harry’s ‘wing man’ Tom Inskip arrives at the ceremony with his wife Augusta Boyle
James Blunt and his wife are among the huge stars who have been invited by Meghan and Harry today
Nicholas Soames (right) along with Charles Spencer and his wife Karen (left) arrive in the Berkshire town ahead of the royal wedding
Guests are gathering inside the famous chapel where Meghan will enter alone in just a few hours
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be officiating the ceremony in Windsor, tweeted: ‘Praying for Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle today. May it be a day of joy and celebration as they commit their lives to each other before God – and may we all share in that joy with them.’
Meghan has spent her last night of freedom at the Cliveden House Hotel around 25 minutes from Windsor Castle where she will next see Prince Harry at the altar of St George’s Chapel.
Last night she looked stunning as she arrived with her mother Doria Ragland, 62, after enjoying afternoon tea with the Queen.
Meanwhile her husband-to-be and Prince William enjoyed a walkabout through Windsor to meet the thousands of well-wishers who have gathered to see him get married.
As she walked into the hotel wearing a £1,350 navy Roland Mouret Barwick dress she grinned as she told waiting royal fans that she felt ‘wonderful, thank you’ ahead of the biggest day of her life.
Harry’s friends Delfina Blaquier and Argentinian polo star Nacho Figueras arrive at the wedding along with more than 2,000 others attending the big day
Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell appears to struggle to gain access to the grounds of Windsor Castle
A police escort takes an empty wedding car set to be used in today’s big event to the gates of the castle
Beaming Meghan also gathered her closest friends, her dress designer and hairdresser to join her in £1,500-a-night rooms last night.
This morning she will leave for Windsor Castle with Doria before she travels alone to St George’s Chapel where she will finally marry Prince Harry as millions watch around the world.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – a title not handed out for more than 150 years.
The Queen has conferred the titles on her grandson and his bride-to-be as they prepare to walk down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor today.
The royal groom was given a dukedom – the highest rank in the British peerage – to mark his marriage to Meghan Markle.
American former actress Meghan will now become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex on her marriage at the much-anticipated ceremony in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Harry also received Scottish and Northern Irish titles, becoming the Earl of of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, which means Meghan will become the Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel.
All titles are in the gift of the Queen and it was up to the monarch to choose which one to bestow on her grandson and his new wife.
St George’s Chapel has been adorned with floral displays ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tying the knot.
The first pictures from inside the historic building show foliage, white peonies, white garden roses and other white blooms adorning the front of the organ loft, towering above the seats.
A central arch will serve to frame the royal couple as a congregation of family, friends and well-wishers watch them take their vows.
Two large arrangements also sit either side of the High Altar in the Windsor Castle chapel.
The display, which also features foxgloves with branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, also extends to outside the chapel, lining the West Steps and surrounding the West Door through which Meghan will enter the church.
The display has been carefully crafted by floral designer Philippa Craddock.
Huge crowds waving union flags have been there since the early hours or longer as they welcome the couple into married life
Crowds of royal enthusiasts have gathered near Windsor Castle hoping to catch a glimpse of the guests and wedding party
Royal fans are lining the streets of the Berkshire town all hoping to catch a glimpse of the newly married royal couple when their carriage ride’s along the route
Royal enthusiasts pictured on the Long Walk ahead of the royal wedding wearing Union Jack flags and a Queen’s Guard outfit
Fans from Britain and America have travelled to the small Berkshire town to be part of the huge event
Up to 100,000 people are flooding into Windsor today to see Harry and Meghan marry today
Beautiful greenery and flowers adorn the front of the organ loft inside St George’s Chapel ready for the bride and groom
Flowers and foliage surround the West Door and steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
This is the order of service for today’s wedding ceremony, which was printed before Thomas Markle’s name could be removed
At the end of a dramatic week, sources said Harry and Meghan had just wanted to focus on their big day.
‘They are just so in love and while it has been a hugely emotional week for Meghan in terms of her father, who she is still deeply concerned about, they now want to focus on the day,’ they said. ‘It’s a huge moment for them … and they just want people to enjoy the day.’
Another added: ‘Honestly, I have never seen him so happy. He is just besotted and cannot wait to make Meghan his wife.’
With Mr Markle, a former Hollywood lighting director, recovering from surgery to fit a heart stent, Kensington Palace announced yesterday that Prince Charles would walk his future daughter-in-law to the altar. Sources close to the prince, who will wear a morning suit, said he was ‘deeply touched’ to have been asked.
‘It wasn’t something he raised at all … the couple came to him,’ they said. The source added that Charles had met Miss Markle several times and appeared to have struck up a very ‘genuine bond’ with her and now her mother.
Both he and the Duchess of Cornwall seemed delighted by their meeting with Miss Ragland on Wednesday at Clarence House.
Miss Markle has always insisted she wanted to arrive at the chapel on her own, even when her father was involved. She was also insistent that she would not be ‘given away’.
It is believed that, as a divorcee in her 30s and a feminist, the future royal believed it wasn’t appropriate. At noon today, Charles will await her at the start of the Quire, halfway down the 15th-century chapel, instead of the steps of the building.
Miss Markle will arrive in the castle’s quadrangle with her mother at about 11.25am in one of the Queen’s cars. Miss Ragland, a social worker and yoga instructor, is believed to be the only member of Miss Markle’s family attending.
Miss Ragland will then transfer to another vehicle and be driven to the Galilee porch, used by the royal family, where she will arrive shortly before Charles and the Queen.
Miss Markle will be joined by her bridesmaids and page boys, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte – and will be greeted at the steps to the West Door, decorated with exquisite spring blooms, by the Dean of Windsor, who will walk ahead of her into the church.
Last night Mr Markle told US website TMZ he gave the arrangements his blessing. He said he was ‘honoured and grateful’ that Charles had stepped in and his daughter had called him personally to tell him.
Kensington Palace said: ‘The Order of Service was produced before it became clear Mr Thomas Markle would be unable to attend the wedding … some aspects will be different to what has been printed.’
Stand By Me will be among the hymns in a modern order of service as Prince Harry ties the knot with Meghan Markle in today’s long-awaited royal wedding.
The plans for the ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, include modern wording of the marriage vows along with the hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer which was played at Princess Diana’s funeral. Diana’s sister, Lady Jane Fellowes, will also give a reading.
Meghan will not promise to ‘obey’ Prince Harry, in a contemporary version of the vows using modern language such as ‘you’ rather than ‘thee’.
The Duchess of Cambridge did not promise to ‘obey’ Prince William in 2011, and neither did Harry’s mother the Princess of Wales in 1981 when she married the Prince of Wales.
In a nod to the transatlantic nature of the marriage, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church in the United States, will give the sermon.
However the order of service was produced before it became clear that Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, would be unable to attend, and still mentions his name. There was not enough time to reprint the 600 copies of the 20-page A4 Order of Service.
Although the ceremony in the gothic surrounds of Windsor Castle’s chapel is deeply religious, the service will use the words from the more up to date Marriage Service from Common Worship (2000), which features modern language, such as ‘you’ rather than ‘thee’ or ‘thou’.
The prince and his American former actress bride will pledge themselves to one another ‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part’.
In The Declarations part of the service, they will also promise to love, comfort, honour, and protect one another and be faithful to one another for the rest of their lives.
Kensington Palace said ‘like any couple getting married, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have taken a great deal of care in selecting all elements for their service.’
Yesterday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will officiate, said Prince Charles was ‘someone of great care and affection’. He added: ‘He’s a very warm person and that he’s doing this is a sign of his love and concern and support. I think it’s wonderful. It’s beautiful.’
Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the US Episcopal Church, who will give an address, said ‘different worlds are being brought together’ by the marriage.
Millions around the world are watching but America has been gripped by ‘Meghan mania’ – and US broadcasters have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide the best possible coverage for their viewers.
With prime broadcasting spots given to British TV, American networks have ‘annexed’ several guesthouses and hotels around Windsor Castle.
NBC is said to have ‘taken over’ the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, opposite the castle, with a team of around 300.
The broadcaster has built an ‘Olympic stadium’-like studio on the rooftop to achieve the best backdrops and have a view of the castle in the background.
Yesterday Meghan Markle’s co-stars from the TV legal drama Suits appeared in the studio to tell viewers back home how she revealed her romance with Prince Harry.
Meanwhile, rival networks ABC and CBS are said to have removed windows from rooms at the front of the Harte & Garter hotel at great expense to create the best shots.
And a two-storey temporary media centre has been set up on the Long Walk in Windsor Great Park solely for US journalists to broadcast to fascinated viewers back home.
Broadcasters are devoting huge amounts of air time to programmes before and after the wedding, and most are broadcasting or streaming the ceremony live.
In 2011, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was watched by 23million Americans even though it was the middle of the night for many in the US.
But viewing figures are expected to be much higher for Prince Harry and Miss Markle’s ceremony today.
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