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Prince Harry, Meghan marry

London, May 19: Prince Harry, sixth in line to the British throne, married US actress Meghan Markle in a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday. Harry and Markle exchanged vows and rings in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and 600 celebrity guests. They later shared a kiss outside the chapel as the cheering public waited to catch a glimpse of the happy couple. The dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, conducted the wedding service while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, officiated the wedding.

High-profile guests included Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Idris Elba, Elton John, Tom Hardy, James Corden, James Blunt, Carey Mulligan. Tennis star Serena Williams and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson were also present. In a departure from tradition, Markle, 36, walked much of the way up the aisle unchaperoned, followed by her 10 bridesmaids and page boys — a move unprecedented for a royal bride in Britain. Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined eight other little bridal party members, including several of Harry and Meghan’s godchildren.

Wearing a dress by British designer Clare Waight Keller, Markle was met by Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, who walked her down the aisle. Her father Thomas Markle was unable to attend due to health issues. He later said his daughter looked “beautiful” after watching the ceremony from his hospital bed. “I wish I were there and I wish them all my love and all happiness.”

Markle’s 16-foot-long veil was held in place by a diamond bandeau tiara lent to her by the Queen. In her vows, Markle did not promise to “obey” her husband, while Prince Harry broke with royal tradition by choosing to wear a wedding ring. Prince Harry, flanked by his brother and best man Prince William, was dressed in the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals. Before the wedding, the Queen conferred the title Duke of Sussex on Harry, making Meghan the first-ever Duchess of Sussex.

Guests connected to the royal family included Pippa Middleton and her parents and Tom Parker Bowles, who is the son of Prince Charles’ wife Camilla. Earl Charles Spencer — brother of Prince Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana — was another of the guests, as was the prince’s aunt Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew.

Politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, were not invited, as it was not a state event. But, former Prime Minister Sir John Major was among the invited guests, as he is a member of the Order of the Garter. Lady Jane Fellowes, Diana’s sister, gave a reading at the ceremony. Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E. King’s soul classic “Stand By Me” during the service. As the bride and groom signed the register, 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason — who won the 2016 BBC’s Young Musician — performed. The gospel choir also performed Etta James’ uplifting version of “Amen/This Little Light of Mine” as the newlyweds left the chapel.

After the service, the newlyweds travelled in an open carriage as part of a 25-minute procession from St. George’s Chapel through Windsor town. An estimated 100,000 cheering people lined the carriage procession route, waiting to wave at the new royal couple. Several fans arrived at Windsor days earlier and camped out to secure prime places with better view. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita