We turned to people in-the-know—including a former royal chef—to hash out what Prince Harry and Markle's wedding will (probably) be like.
The official announcement came in a statement issued by Clarence House, revealing the prince popped the question sometime earlier this year somewhere in London.
"Everyone is very happy for Prince Harry who, along with his older brother, [Prince William], has had a very interesting and, at times, tragic life," royal etiquette expert William Hanson tells Food & Wine, noting issues that once would have prevented the pair from tying the knot—Markle is an American divorcée, a status that in the 1930s forced King Edward VIII to abdicate the thrown so he could wed Wallis Spencer—is no longer an issue for Brits. "They're purely celebrating their union," Hanson says.
And celebrating they are. This morning, Prince Harry and Markle appeared before a large crowd gathered at Kensington Palace to briefly discuss their engagement. One fan even brought a life-sized cut-out of the prince, while members of the media tried to uncover the tiniest details about the proposal and the couple's upcoming nuptials.
Unfortunately, those fans may have left disappointed. The pair revealed little about their engagement and future plans, though some may be forthcoming in a interview set to air later today on BBC. Even so, Hanson warns against getting too worked up. "I think there won't be more details [about the wedding] this side of Christmas," he says, predicting it could be as late as March before we know more about the event.
We don't know about you, but we can't wait another minute unwrap more of this exciting present. So we turned to people in-the-know—including a former royal chef—to hash out what Prince Harry and Markle's wedding will (probably) be like.
Appearing this morning in front of a crowd at Kensington Palace, Prince Harry said that his proposal was romantic, "of course," but declined to give further details.
However, we know Prince Harry asked Markle's parents for their blessing, as well as the permission of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II—a move that Hanson says is more of a courtesy than a hard-and-fast rule for royals. "Because [Harry] is over the age of 25, he doesn't have to seek the monarch's permission," Hanson explains.
Both of the couple's families released statements expressing their joy over the pair's engagement. Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland said, "we wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together," while Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh said they "are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness."
Fans got a glimpse of Markle's stunning ring this morning—a three-stone ring made from diamonds from a brooch Princess Diana once wore, and a one from Botswana, where the couple recently took a vacation. In this way, Prince Harry followed in his brother's footsteps: when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010, he also used jewels—a sapphire ring—from his mother's private jewelry collection.
Royals typically enjoy a shorter engagement period than other couples, and bets—quite literally—are on the pair to tie the knot sometime in May. In fact, bookmakers are giving odds of one to three that the wedding will take place after Prince William and Middleton welcome their third child into the family, sometime in April 2018.
The statement by the Prince of Wales, issued by Clarence House, confirmed that the wedding will take place in "Spring 2018," but offered no other details about the date.
Hanson agrees that the couple will wait until Middleton gives birth to tie the knot. "Prince Harry is very close with his brother and sister-in-law, and I imagine Meghan is getting very close to them as well," Hanson says. "They will want them to be there."
As for that shorter engagement period? Well, there are benefits to being a royal. As Hanson explains, "non-royals have a longer engagement period because there are a lot of practicalities and a lot of planning that goes into a wedding, whereas when you have the entire royal household, the military—as well as other armed services—and civil servants and the government all planning your wedding, you can have a shorter engagement. There are hundreds of people helping your special day come together."
St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle—a small-by-comparison cathedral to the likes of Westminster Abbey—will likely be the site of the pair's ceremony and reception.
"I think people need to remember this will be a much smaller product," says Hanson. "The wedding service we're going to see is going to be much smaller [than previous royal weddings]. It's not going to be held in Westminster Abbey, and so, there is a good chance that it may not even be televised and certainly not live televised." Gasp!
This will be Markle's second wedding—she was previously married to film producer Trevor Engelson—and Hanson speculates her wedding dress may be more demure than meant to wow. "It's a second wedding, and she might not even wear white," he says. "She might not even wear a traditional wedding dress. She may wear a very pretty dress with a nice hat, as it would be in any sort of society wedding in the U.K."
Prince Harry's wedding-day attire is more concrete, however. As a prince, he will wear a military uniform for the big day—a tradition that dates back to Prince Albert.
Darren McGrady—who served as a chef for Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, and Princes William and Harry for more than 15 years—told Food & Wine that we can expect the wedding food to be a mix of Prince Harry and Markle's favorite foods—which could make for an interesting menu indeed, as Prince Harry prefers what McGrady calls "comfort foods," while Markle, understandably, loves healthful dishes.
"Meghan is sort of a super-healthy eater, she's super-fit—but Harry likes his comfort foods," McGrady says. "Harry is a super fan of pizza. Harry is a super fan of curries."
Interestingly, they're likely won't be anything that's off limits for the menu. McGrady says that Prince Harry doesn't have a most hated food—at least not since he was a young boy. "I only remember him protesting to his nanny that he didn't want to eat his green vegetables," McGrady laughs. "She was always saying, "you eat those green vegetables or there is no dessert, no pudding, for you!" Harry loved most foods."
Noting that Markle is American and of mixed race, McGrady predicts the chefs—the more than 20 chefs who work in Buckingham Palace—will try to "get something on the menu from Meghan's background as well as a few of [Prince] Harry's favorites."
Whatever makes it on the menu, however, will have to make the cut with Queen Elizabeth. "What happens is the chefs actually research their [the couple's] likes and dislikes, and then it's the queen as well who gets approval of the final menus," McGrady explains. "The kitchens will suggest four different menus and they can take a look at those and say, 'we like menu B, but can we change the dessert?'"
While only two wedding cakes will be served at the actual wedding, dozens of cakes will be sent to the couple from across the country, McGrady says, and displayed where wedding guests can admire them. "Only two officials cakes are served on the wedding day," he explains. "The rest are donated to charities throughout London."
The cakes served at the reception will include a traditional English fruit cake, which "uses marzipan and in the old days, royal icing, and now fondant," and possibly a groom's cake, a traditional started by Prince William. "His [Prince William's] was a chocolate biscuit cake—a recipe from Buckingham Palace," McGrady recalls. As for what Prince Harry might request, McGrady says he loves bananas—and loved the caramel banana cake he once made for him. Perhaps he will choose a banana cake?
The Wedding Party
While media has speculated that Serena Williams, Millie Mackintosh, Princess Charlotte, and Priyanka Chopra could make up Markle's bridal party, Hanson says it's more likely "the bridal party will be minimal. I think we might even be talking one person. I doubt that you will have Serena Williams as the matron of honor."
The Guest List
Much like Prince William and Middleton's wedding, Hanson predicts the guest list for Prince Harry and Markle's fete will be more "relaxed," adding Queen Elizabeth may let the couple largely choose who they want to attend. What's more, "I think you'll see representatives from the military—because Prince Harry has a much stronger affinity for and affiliation with the military than his brother, having served in Afghanistan twice—and I think you're going to see people who have a connection to Prince Harry through the Invictus Games, and you're going to see more celebrities because of Meghan's career."