Fashion / Weddings

Meghan Markle Defies the Social Media Critics, Prince Harry Stays Hairy and Oprah Plays the Perfect Guest

All the Royal Wedding Surprises

BY // 05.19.18

With the world in need of a modern fairy tale, the British royal family came to the rescue. On a picture perfect day in Windsor, England, Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle got married before 600 guests at St. George’s Chapel and a worldwide audience estimated at more than 1.6 billion.

The service combined traditional and contemporary touches — along with a few surprises — in front of a celebrity-studded audience that included Oprah Winfrey, Amal and George Clooney, Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, Victoria and David Beckham, Elton John and David Furish, Priyanka Chopra, Idris Elba and a slew of cast members from Suits, the television series that co-starred Markle.

Here are some favorite moments.

Meghan Markle’s Gown: A Surprise Design

Amid the speculation over who would design Markle’s wedding gown, Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller was not on anyone’s  list, probably because she heads up a French fashion house. But Waight Keller is British and, as the first female to lead Givenchy, likely appealed to Markle’s feminist sensibilities.

Stunning in its simplicity, with a open bateau neckline and three quarter sleeves, the gown was constructed using “six meticulously placed seams,” Givenchy officials explained in a press release. Markle wanted a representation of all 53 Commonwealth countries incorporated into the design, so Waight Keller created a 16-foot-long veil with hand-embroidered flora from each country.

There was also speculation that Markle would wear a tiara once worn by Harry’s deceased mother, Princess Diana. But the bride instead choose a diamond bandeau tiara once owned by Queen Mary, on loan from Queen Elizabeth II. The diamond band was created in 1932, but  the centerpiece — a detachable brooch featuring 10 brilliant diamonds — was originally a wedding present for then-Princess Mary when she wed Prince George, Duke of York, in 1893.

Markle wore earrings and bracelet from Cartier, and silk duchess satin shoes by Givenchy. Waight Keller also designed dresses for Markle’s six young bridesmaids.

Some critics on social media carped that the dress was too simple for the occasion — it had no lace or pearl embellishment — but I thought it was just right for the 36-year-old bride, whose sense of style exudes an understated power.

Since Markle didn’t have a maid of honor, I wondered who would arrange the veil’s long train for her entrance into the church. But in a sweet touch, the tip of the long train was carried by two young pageboys as Markle walked down the long aisle. The 7-year-old twins,  Brian and John Mulroney, are the son’s of Markle’s best friend, Jessica Mulroney. Their grandfather is former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Prince Harry’s Uniform look: It’s OK Not to Shave

Prince Harry and his best man, brother William (aka the Duke of Cambridge), both entered the church in frock coat uniforms of the Blues and Royals, a calvary regiment of the British Army. Members of the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines are forbidden to have beards, but Harry nevertheless appeared unshaven (and a little unkempt).

“He knows people,” a British friend of mine opined as the reason for this exception to the rule.

Indeed, the royal family’s website noted that Queen Elizabeth II had given her grandson permission to get married in the uniform (apparently with beard intact). Harry served in the British Army between 2005 and 2015, completing two tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he rose to the rank of captain in the Blues and Royals.

The uniforms worn by the two brothers looked similar except for a long gold braid extending from William’s right shoulder and waist to his chest. It signifies that he is an Aide-de-Camp to the Queen — an honor bestowed upon him in 2013.

The Royal Wedding’s Inclusive tone

The one-hour service was marked with a sizable number of people of color in prominent roles, reflecting Markle’s heritage as the first biracial person to marry into what heretofore has seemed like the world’s whitest family.

Chicago Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church, gave a rousing homily about the power of love that included references to Martin Luther King and the resilience of faith through slavery. It was a bit long —  towards the end of the speech Curry said he had better wrap up, as “we gotta get you all married!” — but nevertheless had a joyful, uplifting spirit that set the tone for the ceremony.

A London gospel group, Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir, raised the roof with a rousing rendition of  “Stand By Me,” the ’60s classic originally performed by Ben E. King. And handsome 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the first person of color to win the BBC Young Musician competition, moved the audience with a graceful performance of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” Gabriel Fauré’s “Après un rêve” and Maria Theresia von Paradis’ “Sicilienne.”

The Fashion: Hats on!

What would a British wedding be without hats? The array of chapeaus and fascinators worn by female guests were a sight to see, although they didn’t seem nearly as outlandish as some worn to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, were considerably toned down from the last big royal wedding. Eugenie wore a simple white pillbox hat by Stephen Jones while Beatrice sported what seemed to be a multi-strand headband by Fiona Graham. Beatrice’s headpiece in particular seemed quite subdued compared to the pink fascinator topped with a giant bow that drew comparisons to a pretzel and a toilet seat when she wore it to her cousin William’s wedding.

Amal Clooney George Clooney royal wedding
Amal Clooney stole the show at the Royal Wedding with her mustard yellow hat. The guy on her arm wasn’t bad either.

Among the standouts this time were Amal Clooney, in a mustard-colored saucer hat that matched her dress by Stella McCartney; Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in a giant flowery pink hat: Queen Elizabeth II, in a wide-brimmed lime green hat that matched her coat; and Oprah Winfrey,  in a pink hat adorned with feathers and flowers.

Winfrey also showed that she has good manners. She was among the first to arrive at the wedding, a full two hours before the ceremony was scheduled to begin.

A candidate for “Worst Hat” likely goes to Winfrey’s friend, Gayle King. While doing royal wedding coverage for CBS, King sported a yellow feathered fascinator that looked more appropriate for a Las Vegas showgirl before switching to a dark green hat with a brim the size of a flying saucer. I’ve never quite figured why TV commentators feel compelled to wear hats to cover a royal wedding when they haven’t been invited inside.

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