When American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry of the British royal family on May 19, 2018, it captivated the world’s attention. Over 30 million people tuned in globally to witness the Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle wedding, with millions more celebrating in the streets of London. As an accomplished actress and humanitarian, Meghan brought a fresh perspective when she became the Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan Markle’s Background
Born on August 4, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, Meghan Markle was exposed to the world of entertainment and philanthropy from a young age. Her father was a television lighting director and her mother was a social worker and yoga instructor. During her childhood, Meghan accompanied her mother to impoverished communities in Los Angeles to volunteer by distributing school supplies and Christmas gifts to children in need.
Meghan’s passion for acting first emerged when she was 11 years old and saw a TV commercial calling for young actors. With her mother’s encouragement, Meghan auditioned and was selected to appear as a schoolgirl in the commercial. This early success ignited in Meghan an intense interest in acting and theater.
In high school, Meghan was actively involved in performing arts. She became a key member of her school’s theater team and also started training in Argentine tango dancing. Her disciplined work ethic and stage confidence during this time foreshadowed the dedicated actress she would later become.
Acting after Graduation
After graduating from the private all-girls Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles in 1999, Meghan went on to pursue higher education at Northwestern University. She double majored in theater and international relations, achieving excellence in both disciplines. Outside of her studies, Meghan volunteered at a soup kitchen in Chicago’s poor neighborhoods. She also spent a summer working at the U.S. embassy in Argentina.
Upon graduation from Northwestern University in 2003, Meghan embarked on the challenging journey of becoming a professional actress. She started out in minor roles and commercials before landing her breakout part as ambitious paralegal Rachel Zane on the hit legal drama series “Suits” in 2011. Rachel’s quick wit, savvy intellect and compassion strongly resonated with viewers and aligned closely with Meghan’s own personality.
Meghan finally left “Suits” after seven successful seasons, concluding what had been her defining acting role to date. While undoubtedly a major adjustment leaving Hollywood behind, Meghan was fully embracing her new royal duties and charity work.
Meghan Begins To Use Her Voice
Beyond her acting ventures, Meghan Markle actively championed an array of philanthropic causes close to her heart. She was a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, advocating gender equality through girls’ access to education in developing countries like Rwanda. She also visited Afghanistan to support US veterans and their families and teamed up with popular lifestyle brand Reitmans on a line of affordable professional clothing for vulnerable women seeking employment.
Additionally, Meghan traveled extensively in her role as an advocate for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Through speaking engagements and panel discussions, she brought much-needed attention to issues such as sexist attitudes and language demeaning to women. With charisma, eloquence and substance, Meghan emerged as a leading voice for gender empowerment worldwide.
Her marriage to Prince Harry in May 2018 bestowed upon her the prestigious title of the Duchess of Sussex. As she navigated through royal protocols and traditions, Meghan stayed committed to amplifying the voices of marginalized groups through her platform. From secretly meeting groups like the Hubb Community Kitchen, a London-based initiative supporting immigrant women affected by the Grenfell fire tragedy, to editing British Vogue’s September 2019 issue focused on women changemakers, Meghan tirelessly upheld her lifelong dedication to service and activism.
In stepping into her role as a senior member of the royal family, Meghan Markle remained an inspirational pioneer – gracefully honoring centuries of tradition while boldly ushering in a more progressive era through her vision and voice.
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The Royal Wedding
Choosing Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was selected as the iconic wedding venue for Meghan and Harry for its grandeur, historical significance, and security advantages. Dating back to the 11th century, the impressive castle grounds have hosted numerous royal weddings and state events. Its convenient proximity to London and capacity to accommodate hundreds of high-profile guests also factored into the decision.
The regal ambiance of St. George’s Chapel on castle grounds, with its awe-inspiring medieval architecture, exquisite stained glass and connection to classic Royal pomp and circumstance, provided a fitting backdrop to this modern royal couple pledging their love before the world.
From a logistical standpoint, the castle premises could be completely secured for such a high-security event. Accredited media areas, functioning IT networks and full catering facilities onsite significantly eased planning stresses as well. Moreover, the spectacular castle interiors with grand staircases, dazzling chandeliers and ornate hallways perfectly complemented the overall glamour of the royal wedding.
The royal history of Windsor Castle also held special meaning for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Queen Elizabeth often spends private weekends at her beloved castle residence, which now warmly welcomes Meghan as one of her own. The couple frequently return for family gatherings in this comfortable royal retreat away from the constant media glare.
Guest List and Invitations
The exclusive guest list for Harry and Meghan’s wedding blended family and royalty with Hollywood glitz and celebrity flare. Approximately 600 guests attended the ceremony and afternoon luncheon reception. An additional 200 were welcomed in the evening for the more intimate wedding celebration.
The royal family turned out in full force, from the Queen herself to more distant relatives. Prince William took on best man duties while Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, assembled the sweet bridal party of pageboys and bridesmaids. Meghan’s elegant mother Doria Ragland cut a graceful figure as the mother of the bride.
Several close friends from Meghan’s inner circle scored coveted invitations, including Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney and fellow actress Janina Gavankar. Eager fans waiting outside caught glimpses of big-name celebrities arriving like David and Victoria Beckham, James Corden, Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra.
Invitations were crafted with finest English card stock and calligraphy. Decorative gold monograms of the royal couple’s initials adorned the invites edged in gold paint. They carried ceremonial wording and were mailed in February 2018 to domestic and international recipients.
To cap numbers, distinguished politicians, religious leaders and charity CEO’s related to Harry and Meghan’s philanthropic causes made up the balance of guests. Every invitation sent was personally signed off by Harry and Meghan.
Meghan’s Wedding Gown
Meghan Markle captivated audiences in her exquisitely tailored silk gown designed by acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. In an archetypically elegant silhouette with a six-foot train, the dress exuded modern refinement and established Meghan as a royal fashion muse for the ages.
The luminous white double bonded silk cady fabric elegantly skimmed Meghan’s slender frame. Styled with three-quarter length sleeves and an open bateau neckline, the dress conveyed a contemporary minimalism softened with intricate shoulder and waist seam details.
Adding dimension and texture, the sixteen foot veil featured delicate floral embroidery representing each of the commonwealth nations, with the California poppy symbolizing Meghan’s home state. Both dress and veil designs struck the perfect chord between traditionalist respect and contemporary panache.
In a touching personal tribute, Meghan had a piece of blue fabric from her first date dress with Harry stitched inside the gown alongside her veil. She paired the dress with a trailing veil secured by Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara lent to Meghan by the Queen herself.
Meghan’s Givenchy bridal ensemble represented forward-thinking elegance for a modern royal bride while still honoring British sartorial customs. It will forever remain an iconic fashion moment in the annals of royal wedding style legends.
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The Royal Procession
The dazzling royal procession featured Meghan Markle and senior members of the British royal family processed towards St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle before a globally enraptured audience.
Queen Elizabeth II led the procession ensemble through Windsor in a signature lime green suit and hat. She was followed by Meghan’s adorable young bridesmaids and pageboys with youthful energy alongside the stately elegance of Kate Middleton and the bridal party.
A smiling Meghan then emerged with her graceful mother Doria by her side in the Ascot Landau carriage. The pair waved affectionately to cheering throngs of well-wishers lining the roads into Windsor Castle. They were trailed by carriage processions carrying additional family and wedding party members on the momentous occasion.
Positioned outside St George’s Chapel, enthusiastic fans caught their first glimpse of radiant bride Meghan as she exited her carriage. She glided up the steps to meet Prince Charles and rest of the Royal Family before entering the chapel to make her bridal debut walk down the aisle.
The dazzling pageantry of the royal procession built anticipation for the core wedding to follow. As Meghan prepared to marry into the royal family, this time-honored ceremonial procession marked the official start to her life as a future princess.
In an intensely personal ceremony witnessed by 600 guests inside St George’s Chapel on May 19th 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle declared their eternal commitment by exchanging intimate, non-traditional vows.
Meghan, escorted halfway down the aisle by new father-in-law Prince Charles before joining Harry solo at the altar, pledged first in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Gazing lovingly into Harry’s eyes, she expressed heartfelt promises to always love, comfort, honor and protect her beloved prince as his wife and partner. Her sincerity brought pure joy and pride to Harry’s face.
Harry reciprocated with meaningful vows to cherish, empower and remain faithful to Meghan as they grew together in marriage. His voice rang with emotion as he expressed gratitude for their found partnership.
Their tender exchange highlighted shared feminist values around equality. By personally scripting their vows, Meghan and Harry honored their bond transcending status, age or background with an egalitarian commitment to each other above all.
The customized vows reinforced the individual spirit and modern identity of this 21st century royal couple while upholding sacred marriage traditions. In pledging their distinct union, Harry and Meghan inspired couples everywhere to embrace meaningful vows as foundations of strong marriages.
The exchange of personal wedding bands during the ceremony represented an unbreakable union between Harry and Meghan. Beyond the formal Welsh gold ring, embedded with diamonds from Diana’s collection, that Harry gave Meghan, the second ring also carried intimate meaning.
Meghan gifted Harry a platinum textured band specially crafted from the Canadian Klondike’s rarest strains of yellow gold said to harness the qualities of strength and durability. This second ring communicated the promise of steadfast partnership and support between them in their marriage.
The exchange highlighted Meghan and Harry’s independent spirit shunning outdated “obey” vows and ring-giving solely from groom to bride. By privately and mutually selecting wedding rings for each other, they honored their egalitarian partnership and strong personal bond transcending age-old sexist marital traditions.
As the world watched this thoroughly modern duo pledge their lives to each other, the two-way meaningful ring exchange poignantly signaled the dawn of a more enlightened era for the British royal family.
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After their exchanged vows formalized their marriage union, Harry and Meghan celebrated their newfound marital bliss with a dazzling afternoon luncheon reception for 600 followed by an intimate evening dinner and dancing with 200 close loved ones. Both affairs featured plenty of fashionable flare, gourmet cuisine, VIP entertainers and heartfelt toasts!
Meghan and Harry made their grand entrance into the festival marquee-style St. George’s Hall to kick off the luncheon reception. Stealing the show in a silk crepe bateau-neck gown by Stella McCartney, Meghan dazzled the crowds, clasping Harry’s hand.
The luncheon menu blended seasonal Windsor-sourced ingredients like Scottish langoustines and English asparagus with lively cocktail pairings. Floral designer Philippa Craddock decorated tables with locally foraged beech branches, white roses and peonies for a stunning springtime effect.
An elegant, eight-tier lemon and elderflower wedding cake baked by Claire Ptak as the centerpiece dessert paid tribute to the couple’s shared values around sourcing organic ingredients from the English countryside and London-based small business suppliers for their big day.
In a surprising break from tradition, Meghan offered a heartfelt speech at the lunch reception. She authentically conveyed appreciation for her mother’s lifelong support and graciously welcomed new in-laws and friends into her journey with Harry. Her words, met by resounding applause, set an intimate tone for the rest of the day.
As the afternoon reception winded down, the couple slipped away for some quiet rest before the evening festivities. They reemerged refreshed and radiant at the 7pm dinner reception in Frogmore House alongside just 200 key family members and dearest, most trusted friends.
The evening soiree hit its vibrant peak on the dancefloor as Prince Harry joked that Meghan had provided the “most amazing private concert from Elton John”. Dazzled guests watched Sir Elton John dedicate heartfelt renditions of beloved hits like “Your Song” and “Circle of Life” from The Lion King to the newlyweds.
The private concert created an energetic mood, with Meghan’s mother Doria grooving alongside Prince Charles and The Queen amused by Sir Elton John’s joyful performance. Meghan and Harry beamed, stealing romantic kisses to celebrate pulling off their fairytale royal wedding in their own modern, mindful image.
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Influence on Wedding Trends
Meghan Markle sparked an array of modern royal wedding trends with her impeccable bridal style and sophisticated ceremony details trending globally after millions tuned into her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry.
- Meghan’s minimalist boatneck wedding gown and silk cady fabric sparked demand for similar elegant silhouettes and luxe fabrics rather than elaborate trains or heavy brocades.
- Her unique 16-foot embroidered veil and silk tulle bridal accessories paved the way for personalized artistic veils versus cookie-cutter styles.
- Their modern royal wedding playlist of contemporary pop songs diverged from classical ceremonial anthems setting a youthful, relaxed musical tone for receptions.
- Meghan’s organic elderflower and lemon sponge wedding cake spiked requests for light fruit-infused confections over dense traditional fruitcake.
- Her reception speeches as the bride broke barriers by speaking lovingly on her own behalf and gratefully welcoming Harry’s family.
By walking her own path down the aisle and at the altar with invigorating twists on customs, Meghan Markle set a refreshing, inspired precedent for brides embracing personalized elements on their wedding day over pressures to conform to the status quo.
Impact on Royal Tradition
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a groundbreaking impact on royal traditions through their 2018 multicultural, feminist approach to their fairytale Windsor Castle union before an audience of nearly 2 billion people globally.
Meghan Markle herself represented a break with tradition, as the first mixed race American divorcee welcomed into the historically white British monarchy. Her very inclusion proudly repped progress towards diversity and modern open-mindedness in the royal family.
The egalitarian feminist spirit guiding their wedding stood out in small gestures of equality – from Meghan boldly walking halfway down the aisle alone before joining Harry, to her unprecedented personal speech at their reception welcoming his family as hers.
Their interracial marriage reinforced an important shift towards inclusivity, multicultural representation and social progress long overdue within perhaps the world’s most symbolic white aristocratic institution struggling to remain relevant in the 21st century.
With support from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles down the line of royal succession, Meghan and Harry ushered in a hopeful era for the British monarchy leaner in formalities and richer in diversity of identity and voice – reflecting ethical evolution also mirrors wider societal changes in these rapidly modernizing times.
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