Road to the royal wed­ding

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden

BRI­TAIN’S armed forces have re­hearsed the car­riage pro­ces­sion that Prince Harry and Amer­i­can ac­tress Meghan Markle are to make through the crowded streets of Wind­sor af­ter their wed­ding to­mor­row.

Harry, sixth-in-line to the throne, and Markle, a star in TV drama Suits, will tie the knot at St Ge­orge’s Chapel in Wind­sor Cas­tle, the home of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily for nearly 1 000 years.

Af­ter the hour-long cer­e­mony which will be at­tended by Harry’s grand­mother, Queen El­iz­a­beth, the cou­ple will make a pro­ces­sion through the town’s an­cient streets on a 19th-cen­tury As­cot Lan­dau car­riage, pulled by four Wind­sor Grey horses.

The sump­tu­ous show of Bri­tish pageantry is likely to at­tract a global au­di­ence while sup­port­ers hope the union of one of the most pop­u­lar royals and an Amer­i­can ac­tress, a di­vorcee with a white fa­ther and an African-Amer­i­can mother, will rein­vig­o­rate the monar­chy.

How­ever, much of the care­fully-planned and chore­ographed build-up to the cer­e­mony has been over­shad­owed in re­cent days by con­fu­sion over whether Markle’s fa­ther would at­tend and in­ten­sive me­dia fo­cus on other mem­bers of her fam­ily in the run up to the wed­ding.

Thomas Markle, a for­mer light­ing di­rec­tor for TV soaps and sit­coms, has given a se­ries of con­tra­dic­tory state­ments about whether he will walk his daugh­ter down the aisle.

The Los Angeles-based celebrity web­site TMZ.com said he un­der­went heart surgery on Wed­nes­day. The web­site said it had spo­ken to him and that “he seemed alert and co­her­ent, telling us doc­tors im­planted stents in his blood ves­sels”. It was not known when he would be out of the hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice are ex­pect­ing more than 100 000 peo­ple to throng the streets out­side Wind­sor Cas­tle, the queen’s home, west of Lon­don, and the old­est and largest in­hab­ited fortress in the world, and have said there would be tight se­cu­rity for the event.

A large num­ber of of­fi­cers were present as large crowds gath­ered to watch the troops in colour­ful uni­forms who will ac­com­pany the newly-weds in a car­riage pro­ces­sion af­ter the cer­e­mony per­formed a prac­tice run yes­ter­day.

Be­side the Bri­tish royal fam­ily, which blends some­times stuffy Euro­pean tra­di­tions with the global pop­u­lar­ity of mod­ern su­per­stars, Markle has brought some Hol­ly­wood glam­our and moder­nity to the House Wind­sor.

She is due to ar­rive at the chapel in a car with her mother, Do­ria Ragland, though it is now un­clear who will walk her down the aisle.

Ragland, a yoga in­struc­tor and so­cial worker, has arrived in Bri­tain and was due to meet the 92-year-old monarch and her hus­band Prince Philip, 96, yes­ter­day.

More than 5 000 me­dia and sup­port staff have regis­tered for of­fi­cial po­si­tions in Wind­sor for the wed­ding, along with more than 160 pho­tog­ra­phers and 79 in­ter­na­tional TV net­works, Kens­ing­ton Palace said.

Bri­tain’s monar­chy con­tin­ues to be a source of fas­ci­na­tion around the world and of few other coun­tries can em­u­late the pageantry which sur­rounds the royals.

A global au­di­ence will be watch­ing, but polls have sug­gested that most Bri­tons are not as en­thralled by the nup­tials as the me­dia.

A YouGov poll, com­mis­sioned by the anti-monar­chist pres­sure group, Repub­lic, found that 66% of Bri­tons were not in­ter­ested in the event, with 60% of Bri­tons plan­ning to have a nor­mal week­end.

The poll also showed that 57% of re­spon­dents be­lieved the royal fam­ily should pay not only for the wed­ding but also for the costs of po­lice, which are ex­pected to sur­pass the $8 mil­lion (about R100 mil­lion) price tag for the 2011 wed­ding of Harry’s brother Prince Wil­liam.

How­ever, other sur­veys show that Bri­tons are in favour of the monar­chy con­tin­u­ing in Bri­tain and that the wed­ding and the birth last month of Wil­liam and Kate’s third child, Prince Louis, were events of which Bri­tain could be proud.

The YouGov sur­vey sug­gested that the pop­u­lar­ity of the royal fam­ily is con­tin­gent on the per­son­al­i­ties of its mem­bers.

While the queen and younger royals, such as Harry score highly, heir-to-the-throne Charles is far less pop­u­lar.

“This YouGov poll shows a very clear picture of a na­tion dis­in­ter­ested and ap­a­thetic about the royal fam­ily,” Gra­ham Smith, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Repub­lic, said.

“We’re not a na­tion of repub­li­cans yet – but we’ve stopped be­ing a na­tion of roy­al­ists.” – Reuters

spir­i­tual leader de­serv­ing of your down­play­ing or si­lenc­ing who you are. Only those with dark mo­tives will seek for you to be less, min­imised, di­min­ished, or si­lenced.

Walk away from such small-mind­ed­ness, even if it is costly to do so.

Lov­ing, good peo­ple will cel­e­brate your strength, en­cour­age your free­dom, and ad­mire your tal­ent.

Stick LON­DON: Meghan Markle con­firmed that her fa­ther will not walk her down the aisle for her wed­ding to Prince Harry at Wind­sor Cas­tle to­mor­row, as the royal cou­ple were shown the route of their cel­e­bra­tory car­riage pro­ces­sion yes­ter­day.

“Sadly, my fa­ther will not be at­tend­ing our wed­ding,” Markle said in a state­ment is­sued by Kens­ing­ton Palace, the cou­ple’s Lon­don res­i­dence.

“I have al­ways cared for my fa­ther and hope he can be given the space he needs to fo­cus on his health,” she said, fol­low­ing re­ports that Thomas Markle, 73, un­der­went mi­nor heart surgery on Wed­nes­day.

Markle’s mother, Do­ria Ragland, 62, who arrived in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day, is now with such peo­ple. Stay with those who en­large your world, not re­strict, shrink, or con­tain it. Live fully, love fully, and speak fully. I am weary of men and women, ex­pected to ac­com­pany her down the aisle at St Ge­orge’s Chapel in­side the cas­tle.

“I would like to thank ir­re­spec­tive of who they are, who hold oth­ers cap­tive, es­pe­cially in the name of love.

I am weary of spir­i­tual “lead­ers” who are afraid of gifted peo­ple; of bosses who si­lence tal­ented peo­ple lest their own in­ad­e­qua­cies be re­vealed. If you live above, and beyond, the dam­ag­ing jeal­ousies that sur­round you, ev­ery­one who has of­fered gen­er­ous mes­sages of sup­port,” Markle said.

“Please know how much Harry and I look for­ward to shar­ing our spe­cial day with you on Satur­day.”

Harry and Markle were filmed yes­ter­day sit­ting in the back of a car trav­el­ling on the Long Walk, which will be part of their car­riage pro­ces­sion to meet well-wish­ers fol­low­ing their wed­ding.

The BBC said the cou­ple were “on a trial run” of the route.

Mounted troops and foot­sol­diers took part in a sep­a­rate re­hearsal of the you will stim­u­late the dreams of ev­ery­one in your cir­cle of in­flu­ence, and make your dreams come true be­fore your very eyes – and the world will hear your voice.

A for­mer Dur­ban­ite, Smith is a fam­ily ther­a­pist in the US. You can e-mail him at RodESmith122@gmail.com car­riage pro­ces­sion through Wind­sor on Thurs­day.

Thomas Markle, who di­vorced Ragland when Meghan was 6 years old, told US gos­sip web­site TMZ early on Wed­nes­day that car­di­ol­o­gists planned to “clear block­age, re­pair dam­age and put a stent where it is needed”.

He suf­fered a heart at­tack last week and ex­pe­ri­enced chest pains on Mon­day, TMZ said.

Doubt had al­ready been cast over his at­ten­dance at the wed­ding af­ter claims that he had staged sev­eral pho­to­graphs of him­self taken last month near his home in Mex­ico.

Meghan Markle’s half­brother, Thomas Markle jr, 51, and half-sis­ter Sa­man­tha Grant, 53, have also made a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ing and some­times con­tra­dic­tory state­ments about the fam­ily to US me­dia in re­cent weeks.

Speak­ing to the Bri­tish tabloid The Daily Mir­ror in Wind­sor on Wed­nes­day, Markle jr said he re­gret­ted a “mo­ment of mad­ness” when he is­sued an open let­ter warn­ing Harry against mar­ry­ing his half-sis­ter.

“I didn’t mean to up­set any­one. I had hoped it might jolt some­one into giv­ing us help,” he said of the let­ter.

“We needed guid­ance from the royals, but didn’t get it,” Markle jr said.

“Ever since her re­la­tion­ship with Harry emerged two years ago, our lives have been changed for­ever.

“There hasn’t been a day gone by when the phone hasn’t rung, or we’ve not been fol­lowed,” he said.

“It’s placed a mas­sive strain on us all.”

As­ton­ish­ingly is the fact that, six months af­ter he and Meghan got en­gaged, Harry has yet to meet his fu­ture fa­ther-in-law.

And in­deed, as things stand, it may still be quite some time be­fore he does. – dpa and Daily Mail

ROUND TOWER ST GE­ORGE’S HALL

GRAPH­ICS: REUTERS

ST GE­ORGE’S CHAPEL

Cer­e­mony at noon 600 guests will ar­rive from 9.30am to 11am and walk to St Ge­orge’s Chapel Af­ter­noon re­cep­tion for cou­ple and guests from wed­ding Wind­sor Cas­tle, Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s home to the west of Lon­don, is the old­est in­hab­ited cas­tle in the world. More than 600 guests have been in­vited to the wed­ding ser­vice and af­ter­noon re­cep­tion, with 200 in­vited to the evening re­cep­tion.

ST GE­ORGE’S CHAPEL CAR­RIAGE PRO­CES­SION High Street Sheet Street Kings Road Al­bert Road ST GE­ORGE’S HALL

The cou­ple will join a lunchtime re­cep­tion at St Ge­orge’s Hall, which will be given by Queen El­iz­a­beth. THE LONG WALK

The cou­ple will re­turn up the fa­mous tree-flanked straight prom­e­nade that leads to the cas­tle gates. Af­ter the ser­vice fam­ily mem­bers will gather on the West Steps to see off the newly-weds as they de­part in an As­cot Lan­dau car­riage through Wind­sor. The pro­ces­sion will end with a ride up the Long Walk to­ward the cas­tle gates.

PICTURE: REUTERS

The car­riage that will be used in the case of dry weather for the wed­ding, at the Royal Mews at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

PICTURE: REUTERS

Prince Harry has yet to meet Meghan Markle’s fa­ther. As things stand, it may still be quite some time be­fore he does.

THOMAS MARKLE

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