What can members of the public invited to the Royal wedding expect?
The most exclusive social event of the year will be the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19. Royal author Brian Hoey reveals what they can expect…..
The eagerly awaited invitations will be addressed in perfect thick black ink copperplate embossed with the royal cypher; nothing so common as a postage stamp.
The guests’ names on the pasteboard invitations inside will also have been hand-lettered by one of the temporary lady clerks employed to do nothing but write out royal invitations throughout the year.
They are still called “temporary clerks” even though all of them have been doing the job for well over 20 years.
The invitation list has been drawn up by the Lord Chamberlain’s office, in consultation with Harry and Meghan, and inside the envelope will be a slip of paper advising guests that phones and cameras are not permitted inside St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Guests will also be told the doors to the chapel will open from 10am and all guests must be seated by 11am, after which nobody will be admitted for the service, which begins at noon.
They will also be told that a passport, or some other form of photographic identification, should be carried as this must be shown before they are allowed to enter the chapel.
A card indicating the number and location of their seat and a small map showing the entrance they should use will also be enclosed.
On the day itself, volunteer lay stewards at the chapel will be waiting at the West Door leading into the Nave where all but 50 or so of the 800 guests will be seated.
The stewards, who act as ushers, are part of a 25-strong body of men and women who normally assist at Sunday services.
They are unpaid but there is always a waiting list to join the group. The men wear morning dress and any decorations to which they are entitled while the women wear black coats and skirts – trousers for ladies being discouraged.
The invitation list has been drawn up by the Lord Chamberlain’s office, in consultation with Harry and Meghan
They work under the immediate supervision of the captain of the stewards – Hugo Vickers, the writer and broadcaster – but are appointed by the Dean of Windsor, subject to the approval of the Queen.
One of the problems the stewards have to deal with on royal occasions is that guests who find themselves in, say, seat L34 in the north aisle, suddenly decide they would prefer to sit with their friends across the aisle and the stewards have to gently persuade them it is not possible to change seats.
As the majority of the guests will be seated in the Nave, they will see nothing of the wedding service itself; their view is blocked by a huge coade, a stone screen dating from 1790, that divides the Nave from the Choir (or Quire), where all the action takes place.
As a result, a number of television screens will be placed throughout the chapel so those in the Nave can follow proceedings – just like the rest of us at home.
Not only will guests in the Nave not see the bride and groom exchange vows, neither will they be able to see the Queen and other members of the Royal Family until after the ceremony, because Her Majesty does not enter St George’s by the same door as everyone else.
Her Majesty will be greeted at the 13th-century Gilebertus Door at the side of the chapel by the Dean and Canons of Windsor and conducted through the Galilee Porch to the Sovereign’s Stall by gentlemen ushers.
The lay stewards do not guide the Royal Family in the Choir. The gentlemen ushers or, to give them their correct titles, ushers-in-ordinary, are 10 retired service officers whose origins go back to the 15th century.
They are considered to be far superior to the lay stewards and jealously guard their privileged access to Her Majesty and the other members of the Royal Family.
To distinguish them from the lay stewards, they wear a brassard – or armband – bearing the royal cypher when they are on duty.
The Queen will be escorted to the Sovereign’s Stall in the Choir, with other members of the family taking the Garter Stalls on the right-hand side, with Meghan’s family and immediate guests opposite.
The Garter Knights will not be present as, although this is a formal royal wedding, it is not a State occasion.
One of the gentlemen will hand an Order of Service to Her Majesty and the only difference between the one she gets and the others distributed to the guests is that the Queen’s is surmounted by a small crown.
The bride will arrive at the steps leading to the West Door with her father, Thomas Markle.
She will be met by Lt Col Sir Andrew Ford, the comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, the man responsible for arranging the ceremonial side of all royal occasions including investitures and Buckingham Palace garden parties.
Sir Andrew, a vastly experienced courtier, will have advised the couple and will help ease Meghan into the proceedings.
Waiting at the High Altar will be the Dean of Windsor, The Right Reverend David Conner, who will conduct the service, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby, who will perform the marriage ceremony.
When Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall the then Archbishop, Rowan Williams, refused to allow them to marry in church as both were divorced, only permitting a blessing after a civil marriage.
Dr Welby obviously has no such reservations. And as St George’s Chapel, just like Westminster Abbey, is a Royal Peculiar, it does not come under the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it sits but directly under the authority of the Queen, who must have given permission for the marriage to take place in St George’s.
Once Harry and Meghan have taken their vows, exchanged their wedding rings of Welsh gold and signed the marriage registers, they will reappear.
As they proceed back through the chapel they will pause before the Queen and Harry will give a short bow of the head.
Meghan, who by now will be either a Duchess or Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales (not Princess Meghan) will give a deep curtsey.
Then Prince Charles will escort Meghan’s mother Doria in leading the marriage procession back through the Nave, when the rest of the guests get their first view of the royal couple before they pause on the steps outside the West Door for photos.
Once the wedding service is finished the lay stewards and staff will prepare the chapel for Sunday matins, when they will be on duty once more.
And in October they will do it all again, when Princess Eugenie marries wine merchant Jack Brooksbank.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle