When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry married on Saturday, it was in front of an audience of almost 2 billion people. The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex looked blissfully happy, but it wasn’t always an easy ride to get there.
Still, every fairy tale needs a few twists and turns, as long as it has a happy ending.
21. When Harry Met Meghan
An accomplished American-Canadian biracial actress, the charming ginger prince who grew out of his bad boy days to become a respected humanitarian…it would seem like there was no possible way for these two to meet. But a mutual friend—Ralph Lauren PR director Violet von Westenholz—knew they were perfect for each other. She set them up on a blind date, and the rest is history!
20. The Proposal
While it was rumored that Harry might propose during their trip to Botswana, the actual proposal happened during a low-key night at Harry’s apartment while the couple was making dinner. Of course, that apartment happens to be in Kensington Palace, but it’s still a refreshingly down-to-earth moment.
19. Diana’s Legacy
When you talk about William and Harry, it’s almost impossible not to think of Diana. Their mother died when she was just 36 years old—the same age that Meghan is now—and as with William and Kate’s wedding, Diana’s memory was honored. Meghan’s engagement ring features two diamonds from Diana’s collection, and Harry handpicked the forget-me-nots in Meghan’s bouquet because they were his mother’s favorite flowers.
18. Meghan’s Friends and Family Sell Her Out
It’s no secret that Meghan has a strained relationship with her dad’s side of the family. Her half-sister, Samantha, half-brother Thomas Jr., and her father have all made the news for their behavior during the lead-up to the wedding. In fact, Samantha plans to release a memoir called The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, referencing the disparaging nickname given to Meghan. Her former friend, Ninaki Priddy, also sold stories and private photos to the tabloids, while her ex-husband pitched a TV show about a man whose wife leaves him for a prince….
17. Last-Minute Drama from Meghan’s Dad
Until right before the wedding, it was expected that Thomas Markle Sr. would walk his daughter down the aisle. That was before he posed for staged paparazzi photos and announced that stress over the wedding had caused him to suffer a heart attack. Given the circumstances, they all agreed that it would be best for her father not to attend at all.
16. The Wedding Venue
The happy couple decided to marry at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, a smaller and more intimate setting than Westminster Abbey, where Harry’s big brother was married. Not only do the Queen and Prince Philip live in Windsor Castle most of the year, but the chapel is also where Prince Charles and Camilla received a blessing after their civil ceremony in 2005 and where Harry himself was christened!
15. Star-Studded Guest List
The happy couple invited a number of high-profile guests, including George and Amal Clooney, Victoria and David Beckham, Idris Elba, Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams, and Oprah Winfrey. St. George’s Chapel can seat 800 guests, but not all of them got a good view of the vows. Only the closest friends and family were seated in the choir section, while everyone else sat just beyond a flower-wreathed arch in the nave.
14. 120,000 People Line the Street
In addition to the wedding guests, over a hundred thousand well-wishers flooded the castle grounds and the streets of Windsor. 2,000 specially invited people were allowed to wait outside the chapel, while many thousands more lined the road leading to the castle in the hopes of seeing the bride arrive. After the ceremony, Harry and Meghan rode in an open carriage and waved to the cheering crowds.
13. Meghan’s Dress
Nobody could have guessed that Meghan would choose Givenchy to design her gown, but the dress was stunning in its simplicity. Made of heavy satin and featuring a boatneck and elbow-length sleeves, her dress was accessorized with a massive veil embroidered with flowers representing the nations of the Commonwealth—as well as a poppy for California. Prince Harry appreciated it—he sought out designer Clare Waight Keller at the reception to thank her for making his bride look so incredible.
12. The Tiara
In addition to speculating about the dress designer, royal fashionistas wondered which of the tiaras Meghan would choose to wear. Once again, she surprised everyone by wearing the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau, which was made in 1932 to showcase a diamond brooch the then-queen received as a gift. While it’s not the largest or flashiest of the tiaras owned by the royal family, it perfectly suited Meghan’s sleek gown and artless up-do. It also has the advantage of not being seen since the 1950s, when the Queen’s sister Margaret was known to wear it.
11. Royal Playlist
The couple chose an eclectic selection of music for the ceremony. Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas sang a piece by Handel as Meghan entered the chapel, and several traditional hymns were performed by the Choir of St. George’s Chapel. 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh Mason performed as well, along with an amazing rendition of “Stand By Me” by an American gospel choir.