The Royal Wedding – A history, what we know, and an outline of the days events

WE love a Royal wedding here in Blighty and British Products is no different.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot today and the country has gone Union Jack flag-waving mad.

You can watch the whole ceremony from 9am (GMT) on BBC1 and ITV where excited viewers will get a first glimpse of THE dress, details of which have been kept so top secret even 007 James Bond is clueless.

In a break from English tradition the sun is expected to be shining and the skies blue – and to top off a perfect 24hrs it is also FA Cup Final day following the nuptials. It doesn’t get any better than that for a Brit!

Hearing full names read out loud often raises a smile and sometimes eyebrows and this wedding will be no different as both go by different names to the ones given to them at birth.

The bride uses her middle name but is actually called Rachel, while Harry’s real name is Henry Charles Albert David and his official title is Prince Henry of Wales.

The wedding is likely to be the most-watched TV event of the year, so long as England don’t make it to the World Cup final, which is as likely as Harry having as many wives as his 14th great grand-uncle Henry XIII.

Incidentally Meghan is related to Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour and another old relative Lord Hussey, 1st Baron of Sleaford, was beheaded by the Tudor monarch after being implicated in a plot to oust him. Let’s hope relations between the two families improve greatly from now on!

Fans overseas will not miss out with NBC, CBS and PBS tuning in at 4am (ET) with ABC, CNN, FOX, TLC and E! starting their coverage an hour later. BBC American will also live-stream the entire event.

With the wedding also being broadcast on Sky One, Sky News and the BBC News channel, the combined audience could rival the 14 million that made Blue Planet II the biggest programme of last year.

But Harry will have his work cut out to beat the 26 million that watched his brother marry Kate Middleton on a Bank Holiday Friday in April 2011.

The BBC traditionally enjoys far higher ratings for live Royal events than those achieved by ITV. The wedding of Harry’s parents Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was on July 29 1981. An estimated 19.4 million people tuned in on BBC1, compared with 9 million on ITV.

While Harry and Meghan might not pull in quite so many viewers, they have a good chance of topping the ratings for 2018. And among the viewers will be Prime Minister Theresa May with a Downing Street spokeswoman saying “She is definitely planning to watch it.”

So grab your flags, make them into capes, and enjoy witnessing history – this is nostalgia meeting now. The country is welcoming its first modern mixed-heritage princess into the pomp and ceremony of our sovereignty.

It’s a shame in this day and age skin colour is even an issue for some people so it’s a huge step in the right direction to have a member of the British Royal family who doesn’t go bright red in the sun!

Meghan was born in Los Angeles in 1981 and is a former actress who starred in the American legal drama television series Suits.

Describing her ancestry she once said: “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African America. I’m half black and half white. I have come to embrace this and say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”

Her mother Doria Ragland jetted in from the States on Wednesday and she will accompany her daughter to St George’s Chapel.

But sadly for the 36-year-old her father Thomas Snr cannot attend the wedding because he has surgery following a heart attack so her new father-in-law Prince Charles will walk her down the aisle.

It is the same venue situated in the grounds of Windsor Castle that Harry was christened in when he was just three-months old.

Yesterday Meghan and her yoga-teacher mum were invited to tea to meet the Queen. Prince Charles and Camilla plus Prince William and Kate were also in attendance.

The soon-to-be newlyweds have given Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince George, 4, starring roles in today’s wedding.

Kensington Palace announced on Wednesday that Harry’s niece and nephew would be among the six bridesmaids and four pageboys this weekend.

The bridesmaids also include Harry’s goddaughters, Zalie Warren, 2, and three-year-old Florence van Cutsem, Meghan’s goddaughters, sisters Remi, 6, and Rylan Litt, 7, and four-year-old Ivy Mulroney.

The other pageboys are Harry’s godson, Jasper Dyer, 6, and seven-year-old twins Brian and John Mulroney – the sons of one of Meghan’s best friends.

Harry has paid tribute to former mentor and close friend Mark Dyer by requesting his son Jasper as a pageboy. Mr Dyer was a supportive big brother figure for Harry during the 1990s and early 2000s when the teenager was coming to terms with the tragic and untimely death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Palace has already announced that Meghan is not having a maid of honour because she did not want to choose just one person from her close-knit group of friends.

The couple were introduced by a mutual friend in early July 2016. Things moved quickly from there. They went on a second date and Prince Harry then invited his new lady to accompany him on a trip to Africa just three weeks later. “I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana and we camped out with each other under the stars,” he said, describing the whirlwind romance.

Both are nature lovers and Royal wedding florist Philippa Craddock has revealed foliage from native trees like silver birch and English oak will feature in the floral displays being created for the big day.

Speaking while touring Savill Garden, in Windsor Great Park, where she is sourcing foliage, Ms Craddock said: “I’m hugely excited and I feel very privileged to be involved with this.

“One of the things that has been very important in this brief is to make sure we’re sourcing locally and that the designs reflect the landscape around Windsor Castle, that’s what we’re looking to do in the chapel.”

Meghan’s high school will celebrate their former pupil marrying into the British Royal family by drinking tea and watching a live screening of the wedding.

Teachers and pupils at Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School in Los Angeles will gather at 3am as Meghan, who graduated in 1999, ties the knot with her Prince Charming.

Speaking in the school’s grassy courtyard, in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, president Maureen Diekmann said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so we’ll just have fun, enjoy it and be happy for her. We wish her well in her future life with Prince Harry.

“It’s been exciting for us, we are very proud of Meghan. One of our goals is to empower women to make a difference in the world and we think she is a perfect example of what we have been able to accomplish.

“The students are honoured that they are walking the same halls that she walked. They are very happy to be associated with someone who is about to make a huge difference in the world.”

Royal Navy sailors have spoken of their nerves and honour at providing ceremonial duties on the big day.

Personnel from the Fleet’s Small Ships and Diving Units and 30 Commando IX Group Royal Marines from Plymouth will be among the 250 members of the armed forces present.

Royal Navy State Ceremonial Officer Warrant Officer Eddie Wearing said: “It’s an honour for us to be involved in such an event and bolsters the already great relationship between the Royal Family and the military.

“The guys will be able to cope with the pressure on the day because we have done a lot of training and it’s all about repetition so that they are focused on what they are doing.

“Nerves are a good thing and a bit of healthy nervousness is good in my book. We are absolutely ready to go.”

The British Monarchy is the most iconic and famous in the world. England has had a Royal Family since Anglo Saxon times (410AD) starting with the seven kingdoms of the Heptarchy until 1066, when William the Conqueror was declared first King of all England.

It is set to welcome a new member in a matter of hours. Rachel Meghan Markle, like many little girls around the world, may have dreamed of growing up to be a princess– but not many see those dreams come true.

KEY TIMES: Guests start to arrive: 9.30am-11am (GMT) 4.30am-6am (ET). The ceremony: 12pm (GMT) 7am (ET). Carriage ride around Windsor: 1pm-2pm (GMT) 8am-9am (ET).

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