Royal Wedding Live: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Altar

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Now, what do we know??

• Right now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are at the altar.

• Prince Harry, 33, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, will marry Meghan Markle, 36, an American actress, at a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which is (you might have guessed) in Windsor, an ancient town west of London.

• Oprah Winfrey is there. So is Elton John. Serena Williams has been spotted, as have the Clooneys and the Beckhams.

• The queen said that Harry will be titled Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Ms. Markle will be known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex.

• In the scheme of things, this particular marriage is not really that important. Harry is only sixth in line to the throne. But Ms. Markle is a highly unusual royal bride: She’s American, three years older than Harry, has a high-profile career and is biracial.

Here we go.

Prince Harry has arrived at the church with Prince William, his best man. Both are wearing the formal frock coats from the Blues and Royals military regiment.

One thing that makes me really happy is that Harry has decided to wear a wedding ring. It’s hard to overstate how much of a break from tradition that is, not just for the royal family, but for British aristocrats in general, who always considered them vulgar and unnecessary.

The queen has arrived wearing a lime green dress, with Prince Philip, as have Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, and the bridesmaids and page boys.

And there is Meghan! And her dress! We haven’t been able to catch a good picture of her yet. But, it’s white! It’s long! It’s not poufy at all, but simple and pretty. And that is one long veil. A pair of pageboys helped get her, and the veil, up the stairs, and she then walked down the aisle, halfway on her own before she was joined by Charles.

The service will last an hour, after which Meghan and Harry will take a little jaunt in a carriage through the streets of Windsor, where they and the crowds can wave at each other.

A good time is being had by all (even before the cocktails).

Unlike a lot of weddings — and certainly unlike Kate and William’s wedding, just seven years ago — the guests inside are hanging out in the aisles, air-kissing and gossiping. It’s a great royal-and-celebrity cocktail party! (Sadly without cocktails, at least not yet.)

Kate and William’s wedding was solemn, stately, stuffy, full of dignitaries, politicians, and the sort of boring personages known here as the great and the good.

But this looks totally fun for the guests — even more fun than, say, the Academy Awards — because no one is competing for anything and no one is being forced to talk about their outfits to television reporters.

Part of the change in tone is due to the passage of time and to how much Britain, or perhaps the royal family, has changed in the last few years.

Part of the reason, of course, is that Harry, being the second son and not a future king, has the freedom to be more relaxed, less constrained by tradition, and less conventional than his brother. This wedding has nothing to do with dynasty, or ensuring the security of the royal line. (We hope they have kids! But only because it’s fun to have kids, not because it would be some sort of international crisis if they did not.)

This wedding has everything to do with two people who are totally into each other and want to have a great big happy celebration.

Oprah is there. So are her sunglasses.

One of the great excitements about any wedding, of course, is the moment you learn who has been invited and who has not. Meghan and Harry have kept their list secret, but now dozens of these mysterious figures are starting to enter St. George’s Chapel.

Who are they? We don’t know! We’re trying to figure it out, and so are the television commentators.

But wait. This is exciting. Here is none other than Oprah Winfrey, in a snug pink dress, a pair of very cool sunglasses and a massive broad-brimmed hat spectacularly festooned with flowers. If anyone qualifies as American royalty, it is surely Oprah, with her ability to transcend race and background, and her great gift for openness and emotional candor.

Her confessional approach, with its emphasis on recovery and redemption, is nearly the polar opposite of the traditional British impulse to keep your feelings to yourself and carry on without complaint. In its quiet way, we’re witnessing a titanic clash of national mentalities.

Oprah has kept her sunglasses on, even though she is inside, which is pretty cool. She’s chatting to some people — I am sure we will eventually find out who they are — and looking movie-starry and also rather regal. (Hello, British royals! We’ll see you and raise you one.)

Middletons, Beckhams and Clooneys, oh my!

Now we’re playing Spot the Guest as more people throng into the chapel and mill around inside. Kate Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael, are here. They have always done such a good job of wearing appropriate outfits, smiling tastefully and saying nothing.

Here is Charles Spencer, the Earl of Althorp, Diana’s brother, perhaps known best for his active love life and his impassioned attack on the British media after his sister’s death.
It’s turning into Celebrity Central here. George and Amal Clooney are making their stately, Hollywood-y entrance (She’s in yellow with some kind of interesting train).

David and Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh and Becks, have come in and are gracing some people in the crowd with their conversation.

‘I never thought it would happen.’

Reporters are all over the place this morning — in Windsor, in London, in Essex and at viewing parties in the United States — so we’ll be getting updates throughout the day.

Stephen Castle, who usually writes about Brexit and other serious matters but today has been promoted to matrimonial correspondent, based in Windsor, met two San Franciscans, Aaron Endre and Alex Conlon, dressed in wigs and white dresses.

“I have had a crush on Harry my entire life, and this is my last-ditch effort to get him,” declared Mr. Endre, who described himself as a gay activist and performer. He was almost entirely kidding.

“Harry, what does it take?” he asked.

Different people had different reasons for coming.

Denise Crawford, who was raised in Jamaica, traveled from her home in Brooklyn to attend a wedding she considered a historic event.

“One of the children of slaves is marrying a royal whose forerunners sanctioned slavery,” she said. “The lion is lying down with the lamb.”

Alexa Koppenberg had come from Germany because she didn’t trust her web browser. It crashed when she watched the 2011 wedding of William and Kate.

“I think it’s great that she’s half African-American,” she said of Meghan Markle. “I never thought it would happen, as Harry always dated blondes before.”

Woman power, and British fashion.


Our fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, is also watching, and she has a quick take for us.

Both Amal Clooney, in mustard yellow with a train, and Oprah Winfrey, in peach, are making an entrance in dresses by Stella McCartney, and both look great.

Ms. McCartney was recently rumored to be a contender as the wedding dress designer, which makes some sense given that she is:

1) A strong woman who recently took over her own business, and

2) A powerful force for sustainable fashion. (Both feminism and sustainability are causes close to Meghan Markle’s heart.)

Whether or not Ms. McCartney has done the Big Dress, what we’ve already seen is a terrific representation of what she stands for — women who are confident in their clothes and their identity — and British fashion.

And speaking of female British fashion designers: Priyanka Chopra, FoM (Friend of Meghan) is wearing Vivienne Westwood. Victoria Beckham is, of course, in Victoria Beckham. There’s an interesting Woman Power subtext here.

Welcome to Windsor. Please behave.

Even if you happen to be in England on Saturday, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just hop on a train and head out to Windsor at the last minute.

First of all, you might not get a seat. And when you do arrive in Windsor, it’s going to be extremely crowded.

You will have to contend with the keen royal-watchers who, having arrived perhaps days earlier, have already snagged all the good spots along the royal route.

That’s in addition to the thousands of police officers, some on horses, with their sniffer dogs, their metal fencing, their vehicle recognition technology, their closed-circuit TV cameras, their helicopters and their marine patrols of the river.

Don’t think that you or your drone can fly over Windsor, either; the police have designated it an exclusion zone for low-flying traffic on Saturday.

Perhaps 100,000 people will crowd into the little town today. No one is saying how much the security operation will cost, but the current (unconfirmed) estimate is that it will come to as much as 30 million pounds.

That’s about $40 million, with the bill to be paid by British taxpayers.

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