The stage is set. Perhaps, by the time you are reading this they are already married. Theirs is the most talked about love story in the last couple of years. It began like a rumour. It is ending happily ever after as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry weds today at the grand St. Georgeâ€™s Chapel, Windsor Castle â€“ same place where Harry was christened when he was three months old, writes Bayo Akinloye
This is for us. Itâ€™s part of what makes it so special, thatâ€™s just ours. But weâ€™re happy. Personally, I love a great love story,â€ the American actress and sweetheart of Prince Harry summed up a fairytale love affair that has ended in a royal wedding. St. Georgeâ€™s Chapel in the UK â€“ the final resting place of kings and queens â€“ has witnessed multiple royal weddings and state occasions. But todayâ€™s ceremony involving Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will be different â€“theirs is a love story told all over the world.
In a grand style, Prince Harry will wed Markle at St. Georgeâ€™s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Seven years ago â€“ on April 29, 2011 â€“ Harry was best man to his brother, Prince William, at a wedding ceremony that took place at Westminster Abbey. Royal officials said Harry had asked William to be best man at his own wedding too. Prince George will be page boy and Princess Charlotte will be bridesmaid at the royal wedding.
All three of Princess Dianaâ€™s siblings will be in attendance but Meghanâ€™s father â€“due to ill health will miss out. The bride will not have a maid of honour.
Though the venue can only hold 800 people, around 600 have been invited to the service. The couple have invited 2,640 members of the public including 1,200 people who have demonstrated strong leadership in their communities
How the couple met
The couple first met each other on a blind date sometime in July, 2016.
â€œWe were introduced actually by a mutual friend,â€ Harry explained during the coupleâ€™s first sit-down interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation following their engagement announcement.
And Markle added: â€œBecause Iâ€™m from the States, you donâ€™t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family… I didnâ€™t know much about him, so the only thing that I had asked (our mutual friend) when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, â€˜Well, is he nice?â€™ Cause if he wasnâ€™t kind, it just didnâ€™t seem like it would make sense.â€
At a photo call in the Kensington Palace gardens following their engagement announcement, the British prince was asked when he knew the American actress was â€œthe oneâ€.
His response was simple and elegant: â€œThe very first time we met.â€
From that very first time, things moved very quickly for the two â€“ like a love story from a fairytale book. Soon Harry invited Markle to go on a trip with him to Botswana. â€œI managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana and we camped out with each other under the stars. Then, we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to get to know each other,â€ he said.
It was an opportunity that led Harry to confirm his relationship with Markle in a formal statement on November 8, 2016.
Markle sparkles, Harry stars in royal romance
In December 2016, Markle was photographed in Canada wearing a gold necklace that had the letters â€œMâ€ and â€œH.â€ Later that month, she and Harry are spotted together picking out a six-foot Christmas tree, and in Londonâ€™s West End holding hands on their way to see the Tony award-winning show, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
After months of speculation, Prince Harry and Markle finally announced their engagement on November 27, 2017. The two said they were â€œthrilled and happyâ€ to be engaged, and marked the news with a celebratory photoshoot and a formal interview.
Thus, the lovebirds spoke openly about their sensational relationship. Talking about their relationship in the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair, Markle said: â€œWeâ€™re a couple. Weâ€™re in love. Iâ€™m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time.â€
As a sign of what would become of their romance, Markle accompanied Prince Harry to an official royal appearance for the first time at the Invictus Games opening ceremony. Over the course of the games, cameras caught the couple holding hands at the Wheelchair Tennis semi-final and spending time with Markleâ€™s mother, Doria Ragland. The couple even shared a sweet smooch at the closing ceremony.
The American actress is expected to be given a royal title by the Queen of England â€“Prince Harryâ€™s grandmother. But according to Royal expert Imogen Lloyd Webber, she will not immediately become Princess Meghan because â€œyou canâ€™t become royal through marriageâ€. As Harryâ€™s title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, her official tag will likely be Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Wales.
Harry will be bestowed a Dukedom such as the Duke of Sussex after tying the knot, much as William became the Duke of Cambridge.
The love story at a glance: Markle sparkles as Harry marries
*In late October 2016, it was reported that glamorous actress Meghan, who played Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits, was dating Prince Harry.
*On November 8, 2016, that Kensington Palace confirmed the pairing with a statement, saying the Prince was worried for her safety.
*On February 2, 2017, the first pictures of Harry and Meghan – who is four years his senior – were spotted hand-in-hand for the first time, while out on a date in London. At the time, pals said actress Meghan had â€œvirtually moved inâ€ to Harryâ€™s cottage at Kensington Palace with the couple having been â€œinseparableâ€ for weeks.
*On May 6, 2017, Meghan made her first public appearance as royal girlfriend when she proudly watched Prince Harry playing polo in Berkshire.
*On September 25 the pair were pictured together in Toronto as they attended the Invictus Games, Prince Harryâ€™s sporting competition for wounded service personnel.
*On October 1, 2017, during the games closing ceremony, the pair were spotted in an embrace and at one point the pair shared a kiss. It came as they sat in the stadium beside Meghanâ€™s mum Doria.
*On October 19, 2017, it was reported Harry had taken Meghan to Buckingham Palace for a meal with his grandmother â€“ Her Majesty the Queen.
*On November 14, 2017, speculation grew about Meghanâ€™s exit from Suits when a source told US Weekly her departure would be easier as co-star Patrick Adams had also decided it was time to leave. The source stated that Patrickâ€™s exit storyline â€œwill make it an easy break for Meghan to leave as wellâ€.
*On November 26, 2017, it was reported Palace officials briefed PM Theresa May on Prince Harry and Meghan Markleâ€™s â€œimminentâ€ engagement.
*On November 27, 2017, it was announced that the couple were engaged to be married in the spring of 2018. After a photocall at Kensington Palace, they gave their first joint interview to the BBC.
*On December 15, 2017, Kensington Palace confirmed the ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 19 2018.
*On March 22, 2018, Meghan and Harry sent out their royal wedding invitations.
*On May 19, 2018, Meghan and Harry became a married couple.