Rings made of Welsh gold, a red carpet-style gown and a Hollywood guest list set for Windsor Castle: Royal experts hedge their bets on what's in store for the wedding of the year
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got engaged in London this month and set a wedding date for Spring 2018?
- Guests may include Spencer and Middleton families, Serena Williams and Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
- Archbishop of Canterbury expected to perform ceremony and said the pair will 'make their vows before God'
- Possible venues could be St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey
The eyes of the world's media will be on the besotted young couple as they say their vows before family members, watched by adoring members of the public. ??
As tradition dictates, dignitaries and close family members will be among guests likely to receive one of the sought-after invitations alongside a glitzy mix of American and Canadian stars, British royals and celebrities.?
A church wedding beckons after the Archbishop of Canterbury said the newly engaged couple had 'chosen to make their vows before God'.?The Most Rev Justin Welby, who is expected to perform the ceremony, said he was 'absolutely delighted' to hear the news of the royal wedding.
The 15th century St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle where 33-year-old Harry was christened in December 1984 at three months old, is the most likely wedding venue.
But should the couple decide to opt for the full pomp and circumstance, they could pick London's St Paul's Cathedral - where Harry's parents the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer poignantly wed in 1981 - or, they may follow his older brother's lead and get married in Westminster Abbey, where William and Kate said their vows in 2011.
And the crème de la crème of fashion designers will be eagerly vying to be dressmaker of choice for Ms Markle, 36, with Oscar de la Renta, Caroline Herrera, Amanda Wakefield and Karl Lagerfeld all in the running.?
So ahead of the much-anticipated wedding next spring, here we look at the tantalising clues teasing people around the globe to speculate who might be on the guest list, what the American bride might wear and where indeed the ceremony itself will be held.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared in public for the first time since announcing they will marry next year as the world glimpsed the American actress' engagement ring
Following the announcement of Prince Harry 's engagement to Ms Markle, royal fans will be eagerly anticipating the royal wedding to follow
Have all eyes on you like Meghan in sunglasses by Finlay & Co.
A superstar actress and a prince engaged. It really is the stuff of fairytales, isn't it?
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, and what did the Suits star wear for such a big occasion? She kept it casual in a white shirt by Misha Nonoo (appropriately named 'The Husband') and some Mother Denim jeans, which she accessorized with an Everlane bag, Sarah Flint shoes and these eye-catching sunglasses.
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Harry, 33, who revealed a year ago he had fallen for the actress after a four to six month secret relationship, proposed to Meghan, 36, in London earlier this month
The prince said he was 'thrilled, over the moon' adding: 'Very glad it's not raining as well' and both were full of smiles as they posed
THE RING ??
Since the custom was started by the Queen Mother in 1923, Welsh gold has been used for royal brides ever since - and Meghan Markle could follow suit.
The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding ring - a plain, slim gold band - was made by royal warrant holders Wartski and fashioned from a nugget of Welsh gold given to the Duke of Cambridge by his grandmother the Queen as a gift to mark his 2011 wedding.
The Queen Mother's wedding ring, the Queen's in 1947, Princess Margaret's in 1960, the Princess Royal's in 1973 and that of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981 were all made from one nugget.
The gold came from the Clogau St David's mine at Bontddu in North Wales. There is now only a minute sliver - one gram (0.035oz) - of the original nugget left.?
The Duchess of Cornwall's wedding ring was also crafted from Welsh gold from the Clogau St David's mine and the river Mawdach in the King's Forest.?
Prince Harry's brother William chose not to wear a wedding ring. The Prince of Wales does wear a wedding band - under a signet ring on the little finger of his left hand - but the Duke of Edinburgh does not.?
Ms Markle's engagement ring's two outer diamonds are from Diana's own collection with a central diamond from Botswana - where they went on safari in September - all set with in gold band
The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding ring - a plain, slim gold band - was made by royal warrant holders Wartski and fashioned from a nugget of Welsh gold given to the Duke of Cambridge by his grandmother the Queen as a gift to mark his 2011 wedding
The Queen Mother's wedding ring was made from one nugget of gold from the Clogau St David's mine at Bontddu in North Wales
Meghan Markle's wedding dress will be a very glamorous, red carpet-style gown, a bridal expert has predicted.
Jenny Swire, contributing fashion director at Wedding Venues Magazine, said the actress might choose an American designer such as Oscar de la Renta or Caroline Herrera.
But she could turn to Britain's Amanda Wakefield for something sleek, or perhaps to Karl Lagerfeld for something more fun, Ms Swire suggested.
The fashion expert predicted that Ms Markle will opt for a less conventional bridal dress than the Duchess of Cambridge's high-waisted, full-skirted lace gown with long train.
At her first wedding in 2011, Ms Markle married film producer Trevor Engelson on a beach in Jamaica in a sleek, strapless, floor-length white dress with diamante waist detail.
She also appeared in a wedding dress in the TV series Suits, with her character, Rachel Zane, wearing the Versailles princess ballgown by Anne Barge with plunging neckline and full chiffon skirt.
Ms Markle's stylist and close friend Jessica Mulroney runs the bridal store Kleinfeld Hudson's Bay in Toronto, so it is likely Ms Mulroney will be Ms Markle's first port of call for help picking out her show-stopping outfit.
Former soldier Prince Harry will be expected to wear military uniform as is the convention, and his pageboys - who will undoubtedly include Prince George - could appear in matching guards uniforms.?
The English upper classes traditionally only have young bridesmaids and Princess Charlotte will be at the top of the royal bride's list, but Ms Markle may ask some of her close friends as well.?
Ms Markle appeared in a wedding dress in the TV series Suits, with her character, Rachel Zane, wearing the Versailles princess ballgown by Anne Barge with plunging neckline and full chiffon skirt
HRH Duchess of Cambridge emerges from Westminster Abbey, with Prince William. Her Alexander McQueen couture dress took its style lead from the Fifties.?Kate's shoes, barely seen beneath her full-length skirts, were also hand-crafted by the McQueen team, made from ivory duchesse satin embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace
Elizabeth and David Emanuel made Princess Diana's wedding dress in 1981. The bodice and skirt were made of lustrous ivory silk taffeta, and the trim on the bodice, sleeves and edges of the skirt was lace, overlaid with 10,000 pearls and 3mm mother-of-pearl sequins and accompanied by a 25-foot-long train
At her wedding in 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge? stepped out in front of her admiring public to unveil an ivory and satin Alexander McQueen gown
The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Before her wedding to Prince William speculation was intense as to just who would design Catherine Middleton's dress and what it would look like. The beautiful ivory and white satin gown features lace appliqué floral detail and has a skirt that resembles 'an opening flower'
THE GUEST LIST ??
Harry and his fiancee will have already drawn up a guest list, but there will also be a number of dignitaries they have to invite.?
As well as her proud mother and father Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, Ms Markle's family of Suits co-stars including Sarah Rafferty and Patrick J Adams, as well as tennis champion Serena Williams, actress and musician Janina Gavanka, and Indian actress and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra will be expected to be among the congregation.
Her best friend and contender for chief bridesmaid is Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney. Her closest male friend Markus Anderson, who first introduced her to Prince Harry, is also certain to be on the list.?
Other friends include New York socialite Olivia Palermo, former Suits and Mad Men actress Abigail Spencer, author Lindsay Jill Roth, celebrity pilates instructor Heather Dorak, and reality TV star Millie Mackintosh.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Harry's longstanding friends Tom Inskip, Thomas van Straubenzee, Arthur Landon and Guy Pelly will also be invited. Prince George and niece Princess Charlotte will be expected to be pageboy and flower girl.
While Ms Markle has a whole host of pals back in the US and Canada, she has already made some firm friends on UK soil, including former reality star Millie Mackintosh. The pair spent time at Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire, last year, with Ms Markle gushing on Instagram: 'The best afternoon with Millie Mackintosh. So proud of you darling'
Jessica Mulroney has a heavy presence on Ms Markle's social media with the pair often sharing cheeky selfies together online, including their various trips together including a lavish holiday to Italy last year.?Jessica is the daughter-in-law of former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, and the pair met after Meghan moved to Toronto for her role in Suits
Ms Markle counts Serena Williams as a close friend after meeting at a charity football game in 2014. Following their meeting, Meghan wrote on The Tig: 'We hit it off immediately, taking pictures, laughing and chatting not about tennis or acting but about good old-fashioned girly stuff. So began our friendship'
Lindsay Jill Roth, a TV producer and author is easily vying for the best friend title in Ms Markle's friendship circle having recently enlisted the actress as Maid of Honour at her wedding in Greece last August
Ms Markle's proud mother Doria Ragland (pictured) will surely be top of the wedding guest list
The Spencer family, Harry's Windsor cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall, the former England rugby player may also be on the list.
A place for the Duke of York's ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York would be a boost for gaffe-prone 'Fergie' after she was left off the guest list for William and Kate's 2011 wedding, a decision she admitted left her feeling 'worthless'.?
Others could include Harry's celebrity friends, TV presenters Natalie Pinkham and Ben Fogle, singer Joss Stone, actor Dominic West and Harry's Walking With The Wounded team mate Duncan Slater, Ibrar Ali, Kate Philp and Guy Disney.
Harry will also be expected to invite friend and Paralympian David Henson, who captained the British team at the Invictus Games, along with others the Prince has met through his sporting competition.
Kate's family, Carole and Michael Middleton and siblings Pippa and James could receive an invitation.
Tradition usually means invitations for the Prime Minister, leaders of the opposition, religious leaders, representatives from the armed forces and foreign royals.
Harry has also forged a strong bond with former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, through his work with servicemen and his trips to America.
On the guest list? Harry has forged a strong bond with former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, through his work with servicemen and his trips to America
PAIR 'TO MAKE THEIR VOWS BEFORE GOD'?
A church wedding beckons for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after the Archbishop of Canterbury said the newly engaged couple had 'chosen to make their vows before God'.?
Ms Markle is a divorcee, but the Church of England agreed in 2002 that divorced people could remarry in church under certain circumstances, at the discretion of the priest.
Heir to the throne the Prince of Wales, who divorced Diana, Princess of Wales, married divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
They had a civil ceremony, followed by a religious blessing afterwards.
But Charles, unlike Harry, is a future monarch who will one day be Supreme Governor of the Church of England.?
The last time a senior royal wanted to marry an American divorcee, it sparked a constitutional crisis and rocked the British monarchy to the core.
King Edward VIII - Prince Harry's great-great-uncle - abdicated over his love for Wallis Simpson in 1936.?
WHERE WILL HARRY AND MEGHAN TIE THE KNOT???
:: St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
St George's is the most likely option for Harry and his new fiancee.?
The 15th century gothic church set in the Lower Ward of Windsor Castle is a popular choice for royal weddings. Charles and Camilla had their televised blessing there in 2005 after their civil ceremony.?
It usually holds around 800 guests, whereas Westminster Abbey - where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed - can accommodate 2,000.?
With the Queen now 91 and the Duke of Edinburgh 96, the choice would be especially convenient for Harry's ageing grandparents, and offers a certain amount of privacy.
Harry was also christened in the chapel in December 1984 when he was three months old, which, according to Church of England rules, means he can also marry there.?
Harry and Ms Markle's reception could be held in the castle's 180ft (55m) long St George's Hall, traditionally used for state banquets.?
The vast hall had to be restored following the devastating fire at the castle in 1992.
Intriguingly Windsor Castle is closed on April 20, 2018 and its state apartments will be shut on the day before and afterwards, but the castle told MailOnline they would not comment on private events.
Westminster Abbey is the favourite on the betting markets followed by St Paul's Cathedral.?
St George's is the most likely option for Harry and his new fiancee. The 15th century gothic church set in the Lower Ward of Windsor Castle is a popular choice for royal weddings and holds around 800 guests
Harry was also christened in St George's chapel in December 1984 when he was three months old, which, according to Church of England rules, means he can also marry there
:: St Paul's Cathedral
If Harry and Ms Markle decide to opt for a large-scale royal wedding with the full works, they could pick London's St Paul's Cathedral.
With room for more than 2,000 guests, the grand, opulent central venue, with its distinctive black and white chequered floor, would have the advantage of providing an alternative setting to William and Kate's wedding in Westminster Abbey.
But it would be a poignant choice for Harry.
His parents, the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, wed in Sir Christopher Wren's famous domed landmark on July 29 1981.
It has been the focal point for many a royal celebration including Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the 80th and 100th birthdays of the Queen Mother and the thanksgiving services for the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilees.?
If Harry and Ms Markle decide to opt for a large-scale royal wedding with the full works, they could pick London's St Paul's Cathedral - which has room for more than 2,000 guests
:: Westminster Abbey
Harry and Ms Markle could follow William and Kate's lead. The gothic abbey is well-rehearsed at staging important royal ceremonies.
A short distance from Buckingham Palace, the central London location is convenient and the interior of the abbey is impressive.
Harry's grandmother, the Queen, and great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, were both married at Westminster Abbey.
But it is also where Harry attended his mother's funeral when he was just 12 and holds some painful memories for the prince.
Harry and Ms Markle could follow William and Kate's lead and get married in Westminster Abbey, where the Duke and Duchess married in 2011
The couple could ditch the UK entirely and head abroad for their nuptials. Ms Markle is American and made a home in Toronto, Canada, She and Harry also both share a love of Africa.
ARCHBISHOP SAYS HE IS 'SO HAPPY'
The Most Rev Justin Welby, who is expected to perform the ceremony, said he was 'absolutely delighted' to hear the news of the royal wedding.??
The Archbishop said in a statement: 'I am absolutely delighted to hear the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now engaged.
'I have met Prince Harry on a number of occasions and have always been struck by his commitment and passion for his charities, and his immense love for his family.
'Marriage is a special and joyous commitment, one that Jesus celebrated together with friends at the wedding in Cana.
'I am so happy that Prince Harry and Ms Markle have chosen to make their vows before God.
'I wish them many years of love, happiness and fulfilment and ask that God blesses them throughout their married life together.'??
But such a decision would create a raft of problems, especially for an elderly Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Harry will want his nonagenarian grandparents to be there and is unlikely to ask them to make a long and tiring journey across the world to see him wed.
Also, the logistical and security considerations of staging a royal wedding abroad would be immense.
It would be an unpopular move - the cost of royal security falls to the taxpayer. - and royal weddings on home soil boost the British tourist industry. In 2011, the year William and Kate married, a record number of foreigners holidayed in the UK.
However, Harry and Ms Markle might head abroad for an extended post-wedding party with friends.
:: Other options
Harry has plenty of friends whose families own stately homes which could be commandeered for the celebration.
They might even follow in the footsteps of Zara and Mike Tindall, who went to Scotland, marrying in Edinburgh's Canongate Kirk and holding the reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
As an outside bet, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, close to the Queen's much-loved private Norfolk retreat, is regularly used as a place of worship by the royals, particularly on Christmas Day.
The pretty country church, which dates back in its present form to the 16th century, might be the perfect choice for a small, intimate wedding if Harry and Ms Markle decide to keep their actual ceremony private on the big day.
London's Guards' Chapel at Wellington Barracks is the religious home of the Household Division, and would have military connections for ex-soldier Harry, who served in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry.
But it is also where Camilla married her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, in 1973.?
As an outside bet, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, close to the Queen's much-loved private Norfolk retreat, is regularly used as a place of worship by the royals, particularly on Christmas Day. The pretty country church, which dates back in its present form to the 16th century, might be the perfect choice for a small, intimate wedding if Harry and Ms Markle decide to keep their actual ceremony private on the big day
London's Guards' Chapel at Wellington Barracks is the religious home of the Household Division, and would have military connections for ex-soldier Harry, who served in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry
The Metropolitan Police will start planning immediately for the high-profile event. The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is severe.
Extra officers will be drafted in to patrol the streets on the day amid tight security surrounding the chosen venue.
Ms Markle will also have been assigned a royal bodyguard from the Metropolitan Police's Royalty and Specialist Protection Command.??
The Metropolitan Police will start planning immediately for the high-profile event. The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is severe
The Lord Chamberlain's Office at Buckingham Palace is responsible for organising royal weddings.
Under the guidance of Harry's private secretary, Edward Lane Fox, they will deal with the ceremonial aspects of the day.
From the sending of the invitations, to arranging any royal carriages, the nuptials and the schedule of the day, the Royal Household staff - with their meticulous planning and tried and trusted procedures - are skilled at executing smooth-running ceremonies and celebrations for royal VIPs.
The Office arranges the Queen's garden parties for 8,000 guests at a time. It is also its duty to organise royal funerals and the State Opening of Parliament.
Its staff were responsible for sending out William and Kate's gold embossed invitations and dealing with the hundreds of replies.
The day-to-day running of the Lord Chamberlain's Office falls to the Comptroller, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Andrew Ford.
A date will have already been fixed. Royal aides are said to have synced royal diaries a while ago to find a suitable day and make sure the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other royals could all attend
CAKE, FLOWERS AND HONEYMOON
From choosing the wedding cake to picking the flowers, Harry and Ms Markle will be busy as they prepare for their big day.
The wedding bouquet is likely to have myrtle in it, a tradition for royal brides.
A honeymoon will be booked, perhaps to Africa, a continent much loved by the prince.
The royal bride and groom will also have to approve Royal Collection wedding souvenirs, decide on a design for their cyphers and look at their Conjugal Coat of Arms.
A new official website will be launched for the royals after their wedding, as well most likely one celebrating the day.?
THE HEN AND STAG DOS?
Before it was revealed that the two were even dating, Suits star Ms Markle penned a blog post about the dream bachelorette vacation she planned as her friend Lindsey's maid of honor.
She avoided the 'typical' hen party, 'because the thought of running around a city trying to get into clubs and wearing headbands of the phallic persuasion didn't seem very 'on brand' for us'.
Instead, she planned a girly getaway in Hydra, Greece which involved swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, eating Greek salads and fried red mullets, and toasting their happiness with rosé.?
She posed in front of the stunning scenery and snapped photos with her two friends throughout the getaway.
Harry's brother William, meanwhile, is likely to be his best man with a stag do to organise for the party-loving prince.?
Prince William is likely to act as best man at his younger brother's wedding - so will have the task of organising his stag do
But when Prince Harry was given the job as William's best man, many thought the party would involve downing cocktails at a string of top London nightclubs.
It later emerged that Harry was planning a water-themed celebration with high-speed boats and water skiing in Exmouth, Devon. But he changed plans at the last minute after details were leaked.?
He and a group of some 22 friends reportedly enjoyed a low-key affair, clay pigeon shooting at a country estate.?
Bookies are already taking bets for the destination with Las Vegas leading the list (12-1 at Betfair) with Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin also contenders.?
Prince Harry could take his fiancée back to his beloved Africa for their honeymoon.
The Royal showed Meghan Markle the continent he holds close to his heart earlier this summer.
And it was the African islands of the Seychelles where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went after their wedding in 2011.
Harry took Meghan to Botswana to celebrate her 36th birthday this year where they were reported to have stayed in romantic hideaway lodges and visited Victoria Falls in Zambia.
The prince’s biographer has also said that Africa is the ‘one place he can be properly free’.
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