WINDSOR: Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle were pronounced husband and wife on Saturday by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a glittering union that brought a measure of modern Hollywood glamour into the 1,000-year-old monarchy.
The star of the TV drama Suits walked unescorted in a pure white, long-sleeved dress to the middle of the 15th-century St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, where the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, accompanied her towards his son, waiting at the altar.
After exchanging vows to love and to cherish “till death us do part”, Harry (33), sixth-in-line to the British throne, placed a ring of Welsh gold on Markle’s finger before a congregation including Queen Elizabeth, senior royals, and celebrities including US media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
“In the presence of God, and before this congregation, Harry and Meghan have given their consent and made their marriage vows to each other,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby intoned.
“They have declared their marriage by the joining of hands and by the giving and receiving of rings. I, therefore, proclaim that they are husband and wife.”
The marriage brings Markle, three years older than Harry and born and raised in Los Angeles, into one of the world’s grandest royal families, known as “the Firm”. While the ceremony incorporated the traditions of a monarchy that traces its history back to 1066, Markle brought a sense of modernity.
She did not vow to obey her husband; Harry, unlike other senior male royals, will wear a wedding ring; Markle’s father was unable to attend due to reported heart surgery; and a black US Episcopalian bishop, Michael Bruce Curry, gave an impassioned wedding address on the “feeling-bomb” of love, quoting black US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
“When love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are actually family,” he said.
Tens of thousands of fans lined the route Markle took towards the castle, waving British flags and cheering as her Rolls-Royce limousine drove past.
Air traffic controllers for the nearby Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s busiest, closed the airspace over Windsor for the 15 minutes before the ceremony.
Hours before, Queen Elizabeth had bestowed the title of Duke of Sussex on her grandson, a step that meant the actress, star of the TV drama Suits’, became a duchess when she married Harry.