10 royal wedding traditions Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may follow
In this photo released by Kensington Palace on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for one of two official engagement photos, at Frogmore House, in Windsor, England. (Alexi Lubomirski via AP)
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:00AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 13, 2018 8:33AM EDT
With just over two months left until the big day, preparations for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding are well underway.
In fact, the prince even admitted the couple was “pretty tied up” with wedding planning during a recent public appearance in London.
Although Prince Harry and Markle have presented themselves to the public as a modern couple in touch with the times (remember her ripped jeans? Gasp!), there are some royal wedding traditions they will likely be expected to follow.
From tiaras to carriages to wedding bands, the Royal Family has many traditions that have been respected or broken throughout the years.
Here’s a roundup of some of the more prominent traditions Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may choose to embrace.
1) The reception
Unlike typical North American weddings, which include a ceremony and a reception with dinner, the Royal Family goes all out with a ceremony and two receptions.
As is customary for most British weddings, Prince Harry and Markle’s will swap “I dos” at noon. Following the service at St. George’s Chapel, the newlyweds will set out in a carriage (as Royals do) along a procession route through Windsor before returning for the first reception at 1 p.m.
Commonly called a “wedding breakfast” or luncheon, the afternoon reception will include guests from the church ceremony. In the evening, the Royal couple will enjoy a second reception hosted by the Prince of Wales and attended only by the bride and groom’s close friends and family.
2) Permission to wed
This tradition was more of a requirement for Royals hoping to wed thanks to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which gave the monarch the power to veto any potential royal marriage. However, the act was repealed and replaced with the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 by the British parliament.
Although the new act loosened some of the rules surrounding royal marriages, it still dictates that the first six in the line of succession must obtain the Queen’s permission to marry or lose their claim to the throne. Given that Prince Harry is currently fifth-in-line to the throne, he was obligated to ask his grandmother to consent to his marriage to Markle.
The Queen appears to have approved the union as evidenced by the official engagement announcement that stated that Prince Harry had informed her of his plans to wed.
3) Transportation to the ceremony
The Royal Family owns an impressive fleet of more than 100 horse-drawn carriages that are deployed for special occasions such as, coronations, funerals and weddings.
Traditionally, the famed Glass Coach has been the transportation of choice for royal weddings. The two or four horse-drawn ceremonial carriage was built in 1881 and used to carry the Queen Mother, the Queen, Princess Margaret, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of York and Diana, Princess of Wales to their weddings.
Kate Middleton broke from tradition when she opted to ride to the church in a Phantom VI Rolls-Royce for her wedding to Prince William in 2011. She did, however, travel in the Royal Family’s open-topped 1902 State Landau carriage with her husband after the ceremony.
4) The bride’s bouquet
It’s likely that Markle’s bouquet will include a sprig or two of myrtle from the garden at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
According to the Royal Family, Queen Victoria was given flowers containing myrtle by her husband Prince Albert’s grandmother in 1845. She planted a sprig of myrtle in the garden of her family retreat at Osborne House where it continues to grow to this day.
Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Victoria, was the first to carry the flower, which symbolizes luck and love in marriage, during her wedding in 1858. Since then, Royal brides, including most recently, the Duchess of Cambridge, have incorporated myrtle into their bouquets.
5) The bouquet toss
Speaking of bouquets, royal weddings do away with the bouquet toss custom. Instead, Royal brides leave their flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey in London, England.
The practice was initiated by the Queen Mother following her wedding to King George VI in 1923. She laid her flowers at the tomb in honour of her brother who was killed during the First World War. Ever since, Royal brides including the Queen, the Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Cambridge have placed their bouquets at the monument.
Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding will be held at Windsor Castle, more than an hour’s drive outside of London, so the bride’s bouquet may be sent to Westminster Abbey at a later time.
6) The wedding party
As speculation intensifies about who will be included in Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding parties, it’s worth noting that the bridal party at royal weddings usually consists of children and not the couple’s friends.
In fact, it wasn’t until Prince William named Prince Harry his best man and the Duchess of Cambridge named her sister Pippa Middleton her maid of honour that adults were ever included in a royal bridal party. The rest of the group consisted of young children from within the family.
The Queen also involved her sister, Princess Margaret, in her group of eight bridesmaids, but the princess was only 17 years old at the time of the wedding.
Because of this tradition, it seems highly likely that Prince William and Kate’s adorable children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be involved in Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding.
7) The wedding band
Dating back to 1923, Royal brides have been given wedding bands made of Welsh gold mined from the Clogau St. David’s mine, near Dolgellau in North Wales.
The tradition began when the Queen Mother’s wedding ring was fashioned from a gift of gold from the mine. The gold left over from the original gift has been used to create bands for the Queen, Princess Margaret, the Princess Royal and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding ring was also made from a piece of Welsh gold that was given to Prince William by the Queen. It’s unclear if the gold used for her ring came from the same mine in Wales as rumours have suggested the stock has now been exhausted.
8) The tiara
Although most of the attention seems to be focused on what style of dress Markle will choose for the big day, she will also have to consider whether she will wear a tiara and if so, which one.
Typically, brides will wear a tiara from the Royal Family’s collection but that’s not necessarily always the case. Diana, Princess of Wales, chose to wear her aristocratic family’s Spencer Tiara, which was worn by her sisters on their wedding days.
For royal weddings, the Queen typically loans a tiara from her collection. The Duchess of Cambridge wore Cartier’s Halo Tiara for her wedding while the Queen herself wore the popular Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, which was also worn by Princess Anne on her wedding day.
There is speculation that Markle might select the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara in a nod to Prince Harry’s mother, Diana, who was often photographed wearing it.
9) The groom’s outfit
Even though most of the attention is usually on the bride’s dress, Prince Harry will still need to put some thought into his attire for the big day.
Typically, Royal grooms dress in military uniform for their weddings. Prince William chose to wear the bright red Irish Guards Mounted Officer’s uniform with a forage cap for his wedding to Kate. He selected the uniform because it was his most senior honorary appointment in the military.
As Prince Harry is no longer a serving officer in the British Armed Forces, he’s not required to wear a uniform. He could also opt to wear Morning Dress, which is a formal outfit appropriate for daytime events that includes a morning coat, waistcoat and striped trousers.
The Prince of Wales wore a military uniform for his wedding to Diana, Princess of Wales but he didn’t for his wedding to the Duchess of Cornwall, which was a civil ceremony.
10) The wedding cake
There is always one common fixture at every royal wedding – fruitcake.
The tradition of royal wedding fruitcakes stems back many years. The Queen Mother had a multi-tiered fruitcake that was approximately 3 metres tall, the Queen had a 500-pound, four-tiered fruitcake that was approximately 2 metres tall and Prince Charles and Diana had one with five tiers that was more than 1 metre tall.
Prince William and Kate had an elaborate fruitcake decorated with icing flowers at their wedding. But Prince William also requested another chocolate biscuit cake because presumably, he preferred the taste.
As for what cake Prince Harry and Markle’s might be? Rumours are swirling that it could be a banana cake after The Telegraph reported as much.