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5/18/2018 9:07:28 AM

What you need to know about Harry and Meghan's big day

One is the 33-year-old grandson of the Queen of England and sixth in line to the throne; the other is the 36-year-old star of legal drama series Suits, who also happens to be a divorcee of mixed parentage. It is a recipe for drama in a British household that is predominantly white and is expected to uphold the Christian faith, which traditionally frowns upon divorce.

The happy couple. (Photo: Kensington Palace)

And we haven't even started on Markle's father, who won't be walking her down the aisle; an estranged half-sibling who is writing an expose about the bride; and an ex-best friend who stopped talking to her for the way she dumped her previous husband.

To catch you up on the news, updates and gossip before the big day on May 19, here's a look at the full story. 

WEDDING ITINERARY

St George's Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gets married, looks a lot like Hogwarts to us. (Photo: royal.uk)

The ceremony will take place at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle – not the famed Westminster Abbey that has hosted several royal weddings, including those of Prince Harry's brother, his parents and of course, his grandmother the Queen.

After the ceremony, the couple will get into their Ascot Landau carriage and begin the procession through the town of Windsor – home to Windsor Castle and one of the Queen's official residences.

Similar to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding procession, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will also be taking the Ascot Landau carriage. (Photo: People)

The procession will end at St George's Hall, a banquet hall at the castle, where about 600 guests associated with the couple's charities will be invited to a luncheon reception. Later that evening, the newlyweds will dance the night away at Frogmore House alongside 200 of their closest friends.

WHO'S INVITED, WHO'S NOT?

You know the list is difficult to get on when even surnames like May, Obama and Trump don't score an invitation. And that goes for the rest of the world's political leaders too.

Royal links don't do well either, especially if your name is Sarah Ferguson. The Duchess of York is said to be "deeply unhappy" that Prince Charles had originally left her out. She might have been completely cut off from the celebrations if not for her nephew's intervention – he invited her to the wedding and the first reception of the day.

As for those who are very likely to be invited, Sir Elton John is a strong contender because he has cancelled two concerts. Another giveaway: A grand piano is on standby for someone to tinkle some classics.

The Spice Girls are widely tipped not just to be wedding guests, but to be possibly reuniting for the occasion. At least, that's what fans hope.

There is a good chance that tennis star Serena Williams, actress Priyanka Chopra and reality star Millie Mackintosh will be there, as Markle is good friends with them.

Not that the majority of Britons care much about spotting the celebrities – or about the wedding for that matter, according to a recent survey. What they do care more about is the recent birth of Prince Louis to Prince William and his wife Kate.

IS MARKLE SR TURNING UP?

One of the photos that Thomas Markle Sr reportedly posed for the media. (Photo: Jeff Rayner + Coleman-Rayner)

Until the wedding itself, no one is sure if Markle's father Thomas Markle Sr will be walking his daughter down the aisle or not, after changing his mind a few times.

On Monday (May 14th), TMZ.com reported he was unable to attend due to a heart attack and embarrassment over staging some photos with a paparazzi photographer. Markle Sr had said that he regretted posing for the paparazzi and pocketing USD 100,000 (USD 134,000) for the pictures.

But the same website said on Tuesday that he had changed his mind and would attend the wedding to be part of history. TMZ later quoted him as saying the trip was off due to his need for immediate heart surgery.

Although the Suits actress' parents separated when she was six and she subsequently lived with her mother, young Markle was close to her father as she often followed him to the set of the sitcom Married... With Children, where he worked as the lighting director and director of photography.

The 73-year-old retiree now lives in Mexico.

FREE-SPIRITED MUM

As for Markle's 61-year-old mother Doria Ragland, she reportedly spent Mother's Day with her famous daughter. Despite months of intense media scrutiny leading up to the royal wedding, Ragland, whom Markle describes as a "free-spirited clinical therapist", still works at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in California.

Meghan Markle with her mother Doria Radland (right). (Photo: Town & Country)

In Markle's now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig, the soon-to-be royal described her mother in this way: "Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips and lemon tarts. And if the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic Call Me, just forget it. She will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb. You will look at her and you will feel joy. I’m talking about my mum."

WE ARE FAMILY – NOT

Meanwhile, Markle's half-sister Samantha Grant, 53, added fuel to the media maelstrom by saying that their father was feeling "quite depressed" and had indeed suffered a heart attack. She said Markle Sr had "suffered at the hands of the media", who had presented him "in the most horrible ways".

Samantha Grant, the half-sister of Meghan Markle, who is writing a book about the princess-to-be. (Photo: The Sun)

Earlier on, Grant claimed that Markle had princessy ambitions when the romance was revealed in 2016, and said she was working on a tell-all memoir titled The Diary Of Princess Pushy’s Sister.

The mother of three, who is a wheelchair user, was also quick to accuse Markle of not helping their father, who is bankrupt, when she saw the couple's engagement photo. "If you can spend £75,000 on a dress, you can spend £75,000 on your dad," she said in a Mirror article.

As for the book? It is apparently still in the works but Grant told The Sun that it won't be a "slamming tell all" and that the title makes a mockery of the tabloids who had called her sister Princess Pushy.

Thomas Markle Jr, half-brother to Meghan Markle. (Photo: James Breeden)

Despite not being invited to the royal wedding, Markle's half-brother's family has rolled into London. Thomas Markle Jr's ex-wife Tracy Dooley and her two sons Tyler and Thomas are reportedly appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain programme as part of their royal wedding coverage.

Markle Jr, 51, who shares a father with the actress, wrote an open letter to Prince Harry, calling the wedding the “biggest mistake in royal history”. He has reportedly battled alcohol issues in the past and was arrested last year for threatening his ex-wife with a gun.

"She is giving the greatest ­performance of her life," he said in a Daily Mirror article about his famous half-sister. "I've read that Meg wants to be like Diana. She was loved for the right reasons. That's what Meg wants, but I don't think that's going to happen. She's not genuine like Diana."

MAILED WEDDING BAND BACK TO EX

That's not the end of Markle's troubles. Word has it that her ex-husband Trevor Engelson is working on a television show about a man whose ex-wife is dating a prince.

Not sure if that will turn out to be revenge served cold for the way Markle is said to have broken up with the 41-year-old TV producer – she reportedly mailed her wedding ring to him. Even her childhood best friend Ninaki Priddy isn't on talking terms with her because of it, allegedly.

Trevor Engelson, ex-husband of Meghan Markle. (Photo: Express)

When Markle met Engelson, she was a 23-year-old actress fresh out of theatre school, while the then 28-year-old was already a film producer and agent. They dated for six years before getting married on a Jamaican beach resort in 2011. The marriage lasted two years before the actress called it quits over "irreconcilable differences".

Priddy said that when Markle gained stardom on Suits, it changed her and she drifted away from Engelson. While Priddy didn't provide details in The Sun, she let on that “what came to light after Trevor and I spoke ended my friendship with Meghan. I think everybody who knew them both was in shock”.

"All I can say now is that I think Meghan was calculated – very calculated – in the way she handled people and relationships. She is very strategic in the way she cultivates circles of friends. Once she decides you’re not part of her life, she can be very cold," said Priddy in The Daily Mail.

No prizes for guessing if she got invited to the wedding.

RING AND BLING

When Lady Diana died, she left her jewellery to her sons to be given to their wives. Middleton has worn many of her pieces as well as those that belong to the Queen during official celebrations. What will Markle be wearing for her wedding? You will have to tune in to see.

Lady Diana's iconic tiara, the Cambridge Lover's Knot, is one of the jewellery pieces that Kate Middleton has inherited. (Photo: Good Housekeeping)

As for the wedding band, it will be made of yellow gold "because that's her favourite", said Prince Harry. Keeping to tradition could be another reason for the choice: Since 1923, the royal family – including Princes Charles and William – have used pure Welsh gold from the Clogau St David’s Gold Mine to create wedding bands.

Meghan Markle’s engagement ring was designed by Prince Harry and features three diamonds: A central stone from Botswana and two from the collection of his mother, Princess Diana. (Photo: AP/Dominic Lipinski)

Markle's engagement ring was also made of yellow gold and was designed by Prince Harry. It features three diamonds: A central stone from Botswana and two from the collection of his mother, Princess Diana.

SAYING YES TO THE DRESS

Will Meghan Markle opt for something modern, or go all out with a fairy-tale gown? (Photos: Ralph & Russo)

Nobody knows what the wedding dress will look like until the bride walks down the aisle. But several designers such as Burberry, Erdem, Stella McCartney and Ronald Mouret are among the contenders, with London-based couture house Ralph & Russo leading the pack, according to betting houses.

If Markle does indeed choose Ralph & Russo, you can expect an elaborate gown as its recent couture show demonstrates. The closing look was a strapless gown with such a massive circumference that the model required several people to help her turn on the catwalk.

However, the couple has spoken out in the past against luxury and, taking into account the actress' minimalist personal style, she might just step out in a toned-down gown, which may not be too different from the Ralph & Russo creation that she wore in her engagement photo.

The couple's engagement photo where the bride-to-be is seen in a dress by Ralph & Russo. (Photo: Kensington Palace)

BEST MAN AND MAID OF HONOUR

Prince William has been confirmed as Prince Harry’s best man. It is payback for Prince Harry having taken on the role during his own wedding in 2011. "Revenge is sweet," Prince William said.

As for the bride, she has decided to enlist the help of children as bridesmaids and pageboys instead. The list includes the couple's godchildren; George and Charlotte, the children of Prince William and Kate; and the children of one of Markle's best friends.

There will be no maid of honour as Markle is said to have "a very close-knit group of friends and she did not want to choose one over the other".

HOW TO WATCH THE ROYAL WEDDING

More than 2 billion people around the world watched the 2011 wedding of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London, according to leading British wedding planning app Bridebook.

Now, with the rise of smartphones and social media, more than 3 billion people are expected to turn to their screens to see Harry marry his American fiancée. This royal wedding could end up being the most viewed event in history.

Here are some of the broadcast and cable networks' plans, in alphabetical order:

ABC

Good Morning America leads off the day with a five-hour edition, with Robin Roberts and David Muir hosting the live coverage starting at 5 a.m. ET/2 PT from Windsor. (An additional hour of GMA will air at 7 a.m. PT for the West Coast.)

The network's news magazine, 20/20, will cover the nuptials with hour-long specials on Friday and Saturday at 10 ET/7 PT,  with Muir anchoring and correspondent Deborah Roberts reporting from Windsor.

BBC America

The U.S. version of the United Kingdom's "The Beeb," the cable channel will air the wedding live as a direct simulcast of BBC One’s coverage, starting at 4:15 a.m ET/1:15 PT). An encore presentation of the wedding will air at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT.

BBC World News

BBC’s international 24-hour news service on Saturday will air the BBC’s wedding coverage starting at midnight ET/9 p.m. PT Friday with pre-wedding content.

Coverage of the wedding will start at 5 a.m. ET/2 PT, when BBC World News will join BBC One's coverage. Then, starting at 9 a.m. ET/6 PT, coverage will continue with a BBC News special about the wedding. 

BritBox

The streaming service of BBC Studios and ITV (the British commercial network) will begin streaming coverage live at 4:25 a.m. ET/1:25 PT, offering the ITV feed of the event. The partnership says its coverage will offer the "authentic British perspective" of the wedding: Everyone you hear will be British, with local accents and the experience of having grown up with the royal family as part of everyday life. For Brits in the USA, it'll be a taste of home.

CBS

CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King and Entertainment Tonight co-host Kevin Frazier will anchor CBS News’ live coverage from London beginning at 4 a.m. ET/1 PT.

The network will also present a two-hour special, Royal Romance: The Marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT on Saturday summing up the day’s events.

CBSN, the network's 24/7 streaming news network, will begin its coverage at 4 a.m. ET/1 PT on Saturday.

Entertainment Tonight has been broadcasting from London and Windsor this week, with royal coverage on the nightly broadcast and on ET online. A full recap of the nuptials will air on ET on May 21.

CNN

Live coverage will begin from Windsor at 4 a.m. ET/1 PT, anchored by Anderson Cooper, Alisyn Camerota and Don Lemon along with CNN’s royal correspondent, Max Foster, plus royal commentators Victoria Arbiter and Kate Williams, royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith and fashion expert Joe Zee.

The network even signed up a new commentator, Boston University dean Harvey Young, who was Markle’s theater professor at Northwestern University.

CNN’s coverage will be simulcast across CNN/U.S., CNN International and HLN. The coverage will replay at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT on Saturday and on HLN at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT.

E!

E! Live From the Royal Wedding, with Melanie Bromley, Giuliana Rancic and Brad Goreski, will air from Windsor with five hours of coverage starting at 5 a.m. ET/2 PT.  Plus, the hour-long recap special, E! Royal Wedding Rundown, will air at 7 p.m. ET.

Fox News

Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt will co-host the live coverage beginning at 5 a.m. ET/2 PT and then join Shepard Smith and Sandra Smith in covering the main event at 6 a.m. ET/3 PT.

HBO

For a Funny or Die perspective on the wedding, HBO will air The Royal Wedding LiveWith Cord and Tish! starting at 7.30 a.m. ET/4:30 PT, with Saturday Night Live alums Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon playing their parody characters, “broadcast legends” Cord and Tish, chronicling the nuptials in real time. A prime-time replay will air at 9:45 ET/6:45 PT.

NBC

All four hours of the Today show will be broadcasting from Windsor starting at 7 a.m. ET/4 PT Friday, featuring Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Megyn Kelly and Kathie Lee Gifford. On Saturday, Guthrie and Kotb will co-anchor TODAYat the Royal Wedding from Windsor starting at 4:30 a.m./1:30 PT and continuing until 11 a.m. ET/8 PT.

MSNBC coverage begins at 4 a.m. ET/1 PT with Joy Reid anchoring special coverage live from New York City, and Stephanie Ruhle and Katy Tur anchoring on-the-ground coverage live from Windsor.

Access Hollywood is broadcasting daily from outside Buckingham Palace in London and from Windsor this week, while Accessonline.com will live-stream the wedding beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET/1:30 PT.

PBS

The network will broadcast live coverage from the BBC on Saturday, beginning at 4 a.m. ET/1 PT.  A nightly series of special programs on the British royals started Monday.

TLC

The channel will provide a live four-hour feed of the wedding starting at 5 a.m. ET/2 PT. This will be followed by a one-hour special, Royal Wedding Revealed, that night at 10 ET/7 PT./.

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