Meghan Markle’s father not attending
US President, British PM off the guest list
The royal wedding is a moment of light relief for a Britain weighed down by political, social and economic woes. - AFP
The royal wedding is a moment of light relief for a Britain weighed down by political, social and economic woes. - AFP

UK: The royal wedding of Prince Harry and his glamorous fiancee Meghan Markle is a moment of light relief for a Britain weighed down by political, social and economic woes.

With growth shrinking and the government riven over Brexit, Saturday’s wedding is set to provide a national boost and give people an excuse to party.

Around 100,000 people are expected to pack the streets of Windsor, west of London, to join in the festive atmosphere and get a glimpse of the newlyweds’ carriage winding through the town.

Some 2,640 people have been invited inside the Windsor Castle grounds for a closer look -- among them Rashid Bhayat.

“It certainly could be a moment of national unity. It is a real opportunity for the country to celebrate,” the youth inclusion charity chief told AFP. The wedding in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle brings together Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, who is sixth in line to the throne, and US former actress Markle, who at 36 is three years his senior. The dress and the wedding rings are a closely-guarded secret, as is Harry’s uniform and whether he will be given a new title.

The service starts at midday (1100 GMT), with the newlyweds emerging to pose on the chapel steps at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) before a 25-minute carriage ride through Windsor town. Queen Elizabeth is then giving a reception for the 600 guests in the castle’s St. George’s Hall. In the evening, Harry’s father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, is hosting a private reception for 200 family and close friends at nearby Frogmore House.

“Even the palace are promising fun and surprises so hopefully we’re all going to have a big smile on our face and we’ll be toasting this royal romance of the year,” royal biographer Andrew Morton, told AFP. “What you’re going to see is the symbolic union of the special relationship, of America and Britain.” The same cannot be said of Markle’s own family.

Her older half-brother Tom and half-sister Samantha have not been invited.

Tom wrote an extraordinary open letter to Harry on April 26, saying TV fame had made his half-sister a “jaded, shallow, conceited woman that will make a joke of you”.

Markle’s father, who had been due to walk his daughter up the aisle, may also be a no show.

According to celebrity news website TMZ, Thomas Markle, who recently caused a furor by posing for paparazzi photos, has pulled out of accompanying his daughter down the aisle at Windsor Castle because he does not want to embarrass her.

Kensington Palace did not confirm the report but pleaded for “understanding and respect” for the couple during a “difficult situation”. Politicians are also off the guest list, so US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May will not be attending.

It will be a chance for the British public to leave behind temporarily the deep divisions that have emerged over Britain’s future outside the European Union. It could also bring a welcome boost to the economy. The royal wedding commemorative china has already gone on sale, while stamps and a special 5 coin have been issued featuring the couple.

Besides the official souvenirs, Windsor shops are stuffed with mugs, bookmarks, tea towels, postcards, British flags, face masks and cardboard cut-outs as the town cashes in on its big day. Traditional street parties will be held around the kingdom. Market research firm Mintel, which surveyed 2,000 people online, reported that a third of Britons said the wedding made them feel more proud to be British. - AFP

Many U.K. businesses are capitalizing on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.


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