Road to the royal wedding
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 of 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 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
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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
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.
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.
The carriage that will be used in the case of dry weather for the wedding, at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.
Prince Harry has yet to meet Meghan Markle’s father. As things stand, it may still be quite some time before he does.