The Royal Spokesman for Kensington Palace briefed the world media on Friday about the upcoming wedding between Prince Harry, 33, and the 36-year-old, American TV actress Meghan Markle.
To say there is global interest in the cake, hairdresser, guest list, florist, receptions, carriage, honeymoon - and oh my gosh, the dress - does not begin to describe the scene.
The briefings - there were two briefings, to accommodate both British and foreign press - were held in the Redgrave Room of the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. We sat on red chairs. Water was served.
The first reveals?
Despite tabloid rumors to the contrary, Markle's father will walk her down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry. Markle's mother will accompany her daughter by car to the front door of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. So far, good vibes.
The actress' mother, Doria Ragland, and father, Thomas Markle, divorced when Meghan was six years old. We also learn that Markle's mum and dad will arrive in London before the wedding to meet the groom's grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, his father, Prince Charles, his stepmother, Camilla, and his brother and sister-in-law, William and Catherine. Will Meghan's older half siblings, Thomas Markle Jr and Samantha Markle, come? (There's been a bit of bother about that in the British tabloids, a whiff of estrangement, it seems.)
No comment on siblings from the Kensington Palace spokesman, who by tradition, is usually not named. Will the newest addition to the royal family be at the wedding? Alas, Little Louie will not be present. "Sorry, no," the spokesman said. The reporters groaned. The spokesman felt it necessary to explain, "He's very young." (He was born just two weeks ago.)
Prince Harry will arrive with his brother, who will be his best man (but we already knew this).
A few surprises?
Markle will not have a maid of honor. The spokesman revealed, "She has a very close knit group of friends, and she did not want to choose one over the other."
Also: In a traditional royal wedding, which this one certainly will be, all of the bridesmaids and pageboys are children. The press wanted to know: So will Prince George or Princess Charlotte, the elder progeny of William and Catherine, serve as a pageboy or bridesmaid? The spokesman said this will be revealed anon. Markle will spend the night before the wedding at undisclosed lodgings at Windsor Castle, site of the wedding, which is about an hour's drive west of Central London. Of course, the trip won't be so quick on the day of the wedding day.
The authorities expect large crowds, with road closures, packed trains and added security. At the briefing, there were lots of details about logistics. This promises to be intensely covered, global event. As part of the 5 000 accredited members of the press, there will be 79 international broadcasters and 46 U.S. television affiliates.
It is not certain whether Markle will wear a tiara on the day. Kate Middleton's former headpiece appears to be out of the question, though. The Cartier Halo Tiara, loaned to Middleton by Queen Elizabeth herself, is currently on display at the National Gallery of Australia from March 30 to July 22 as a featured item in the Cartier exhibition. Markle's future headdress could be that of Princess Diana. Markle's engagement ring borrows diamonds from Princess Di's personal collection, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for her to accessorize with the Spencer Tiara. There’s also the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Queen Mary's Tiara), the Strathmore Rose Tiara flower-crown like design or the Fringe Tiara, previously worn by Queen Elizabeth II and loaded with jewels.
Many details are still to come - and will not be revealed until the days before or even the day of the wedding. For example, the palace is attempting to keep secret the dress, its manufacture and designer. The spokesman said that would be revealed when Markle steps out of her car at St. George Chapel.
The service will last an hour, beginning at noon. There will be 1 200 "guests" on the Windsor Castle grounds, who represent charitable groups and inspiring locals, whom Prince Harry and Markle wanted to highlight.
There was a whiff of scandal when the Guardian reported that these guests - whom critics have described as living props or "extras" on an elaborate stage set - would not be fed, but encouraged to bring their own picnics. The palace said refreshments would be served - though provided no details. Inside the chapel will be 600 guests. They will attend the service and also a reception following. A smaller, more private reception will take place on Saturday evening.
There will be no Official Guest List, as the invited do not include heads of state. Even British Prime Minister Theresa May didn't make the cut. Guests were invited "because they have a direct relationship with the couple."
Prince Harry is also said to have invited his ex-girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, who reports say the royal is still on good terms with.
Megan’s glam crew is said to include actress Priyanka Chopra,Victoria and David Beckham, Serena Williams and her Suits co-stars.
The other Spice Girls and Elton John are also rumoured to be among the invited guests.
All this - flowers, cake, receptions, carriages - will be paid for by the royal family. British taxpayers are shouldering the costs of security.
Harry and Meghan will quickly get to work being a royal married couple, making their first public appearance just a few days after the nuptials. They will go on their honeymoon the following week.
To where? A mystery. "We won't ever comment," said the royal spokesman.
Though one imagines, news will leak, as it almost always does.
-The Washington Post and Daily Mail