Markle’s mother welcomed by royals
Final wedding prep underway for Saturday
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.”