Royal wedding whips up interest
NEW YORK — In pajamas and old wedding gowns, with high tea or a bit of the early morning bubbly, royal watchers in the U.S. and around the globe are preparing to watch the nuptials of Prince Harry and his unprecedented fiancee, Meghan Markle.
He’s the spare to the heir, soon to be booted to sixth in line for the throne, but Harry is forever the people’s prince to many inside and outside the Commonwealth who once wondered whether the bad boy of Windsor would ever tie the knot.
She, of TV “Suits” fame, has whipped up some big fan buzz, including those thrilled by her mixed-race heritage.
Their “woke” wedding (the Spice Girls are expected) is May 19 at midday, Windsor Castle time, or about 7 a.m. in the eastern U.S. Viewing-party plans are in the works, as are pricey hotel packages and bar meet-ups. The frenzied have their own Facebook groups, and some have cajoled less-enthused spouses to jet across the pond to watch the pomp in person from a spot on the carriage route.
Julie Brillhart, a hardcore royal enthusiast in Hurricane, West Virginia (population, 7,000, maybe), said she fired up her Harry and Meghan Facebook group to connect fans with parties back in November, “the minute I woke up in the morning and found out Meghan and Harry were engaged.” The group now has nearly 5,000 members.
“We are in love with Meghan Markle,” said Brillhart, a former career logistics specialist in the Army. “For every little black girl who has ever wanted her very own princess who is a well-known, modern princess, they now have one. Isn’t that wonderful? She will always be our American princess.”
The group’s members share wedding updates and plans for gatherings, and they live in 91 countries on six of the seven continents.
“We’re actively looking for contacts in Antarctica,” Brillhart said.
Stateside, a recent AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows 19 percent of Americans are very or extremely likely to watch the marital hoopla. Another 20 percent said they’re somewhat likely to tune in.
In Indianapolis, legal assistant Kelly Bentley, is on board. She’s married to a Brit. She’ll be the one in a crown as they sit at the bar of the Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant, sipping something yummy as the wedding unfolds.
“It’s really fun that she’s from the United States,” she said. “It’s that added connection.”
Melissa Uhte, the Aristocrat’s general manager, said she’ll hang the welcome sign an hour early for the wedding. On the bar side, reservations are filling up for a royal brunch. On the restaurant side, kids are welcome. Royal attire is encouraged.
“I’m going to try to squeeze into my wedding dress,” Uhte said, laughing. “We’ve asked the moms to break out their wedding dresses, too.”
Royal media commentator Eloise Parker in New York said much of the U.S. hype is due to Markle’s status not only as an American but a divorced one.
She’s “kind of all of us, and we could use a good news story right now,” she said.
For the well-heeled, hotels are gearing up. The Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, has on offer the “Royal Romance Suits You” package for a cool $24,000 with a fournight stay in its “Brando Suite.” The package comes with a lot of extras, such as guests receiving the Strathberry tote bag that sold out after Markle was pictured carrying it.
“I think this wedding is going to be a way for all of us to escape,” said gossip columnist Rob Shuter, a Brit, royal wedding podcaster and former executive editor of OK! Magazine. “Who doesn’t need that right now?”
Meghan Markle talks to children as she leaves the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday. Prince Harry’s fiancee has generated special interest because of her mixed-race background, the fact that she’s a divorcee and because she’s an American actress.