Markle’s mother wel­comed by royals

Fi­nal wed­ding prep un­der­way for Satur­day

Windsor Star - - NEWS - Han­nah Fur­ness

LON­DON • The chapel is booked, the mil­i­tary es­cort per­fected and the or­ders of ser­vice, quite lit­er­ally, printed. Meghan Markle was left Thurs­day to ne­go­ti­ate the last-minute dilemma of who was go­ing to walk her up the aisle, as her mother was wel­comed by the Royal Fam­ily. Do­ria Ragland, now the most likely can­di­date to ac­com­pany the bride on her walk, en­joyed tea with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Corn­wall af­ter Markle con­firmed her fa­ther, Thomas, would be ab­sent from the wed­ding. In a state­ment, Markle asked for her fa­ther to be given space to re­cover af­ter he con­tacted her to say he would not be able to at­tend, on med­i­cal ad­vice. The bride-to-be was pho­tographed Thurs­day with Prince Harry, be­ing driven down Wind­sor Cas­tle’s Long Walk to un­der­take fi­nal re­hearsals for their wed­ding Satur­day.

Smil­ing and fid­dling with her en­gage­ment ring, Markle ap­peared to be tak­ing a dif­fi­cult week in stride as the Royal Fam­ily ral­lied round to help. Ragland, who arrived at Heathrow Air­port on Wed­nes­day, took tea at Clarence House in what was de­scribed by sources as a “jolly” en­counter. Prince Harry and Markle joined them.

Ragland is said to have “thor­oughly en­joyed” the gath­er­ing, feel­ing wel­comed by the Prince and Duchess. The Duchess has re­cently taken on pa­tron­ages of char­i­ties to sup­port the elderly, Ragland’s area of work, and both are known to reg­u­larly prac­tise yoga.

Also Thurs­day, Harry and Markle were joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge and their chil­dren, Prince Ge­orge and Princess Char­lotte, at Wind­sor Cas­tle for a re­hearsal.

The is­sue of who will walk Markle up the aisle re­mains un­der dis­cus­sion, with Markle un­der­stood to want to de­lay an­nounc­ing a re­place­ment for her fa­ther too quickly out of re­spect for him.

In Wind­sor, thou­sands turned out to watch prepa­ra­tions out­side the cas­tle walls, where the armed forces con­ducted a dress re­hearsal for their roles on the day. There will be a heavy po­lice pres­ence, with some of­fi­cers armed, and oth­ers po­si­tioned on top of build­ings over­look­ing the crowds.

“We nearly froze to death last night,” said Ber­nadette Christie, a pen­sioner who took three flights from Al­berta to wit­ness the spec­ta­cle. The ban against erect­ing tents on the pave­ment out­side the cas­tle left her strug­gling to stay warm with just a sleep­ing bag and a blan­ket. Christie added: “I was told by an of­fi­cer I could not put my tent up. He didn’t ex­plain why, but I guess it’s be­cause it might get in the way. Per­haps they don’t want us to look like home­less peo­ple af­ter all the fuss made about get­ting them off the streets.”

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