London: Prince Harry, sixth in line to the British throne, and US actress Meghan Markle sealed their wedding vows with a kiss outside Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel on Saturday, cheered on by thousands of delighted crowds.
The couple — now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — exchanged rings in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and 600 celebrity guests. The Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, conducted the wedding service while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, officiated it.
Internationally acclaimed Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, who sported a lilac Vivienne Westwood dress suit and fascinator, was among the high-profile guests which included Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Idris Elba, Elton John, Tom Hardy, James Corden, James Blunt, Carey Mulligan.
Tennis star Serena Williams and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson were also present.
In a departure from tradition, Markle, 36, walked much of the way up the aisle unchaperoned, followed by her 10 bridesmaids and page boys — a move seen as a powerful statement of her feminist principles. Her mother Doria Ragland accompanied her to the chapel.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined eight other little bridal party members, including several of Harry and Markle’s godchildren.
Wearing a dress by British designer Clare Waight Keller, Markle was met by Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, who walked her down the aisle. Her father Thomas Markle was unable to attend due to health issues. He later said his daughter looked “beautiful” after watching the ceremony from his hospital bed .
“I wish I were there and I wish them all my love and all happiness.”
Markle’s 16-foot-long veil was held in place by a diamond bandeau tiara lent to her by the Queen. In her vows, Markle did not promise to “obey” her husband, while Prince Harry broke with royal tradition by choosing to wear a wedding ring.
His ring was a platinum band with a textured finish and Markle’s was made from a piece of Welsh gold.
Prince Harry, flanked by his brother and best man Prince William, was dressed in the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals.
Markle’s co-stars from TV series “Suits” including actors Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty were among the attendees.
Guests connected to the royal family included Pippa Middleton and her parents and Tom Parker Bowles, who is the son of Prince Charles’ wife Camilla. Earl Charles Spencer — brother of Prince Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana — was another of the guests, as was the prince’s aunt Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew.
Politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, were not invited, as it was not a state event. But, former Prime Minister Sir John Major was called for the event, as he is a member of the Order of the Garter.
About 1,200 members of the public — many who were recognised for their charity work — were also invited.
Lady Jane Fellowes, Diana’s sister, gave a reading at the ceremony. Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E. King’s soul classic “Stand By Me” during the service.
As the bride and groom signed the register, 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason — who won the 2016 BBC’s Young Musician — performed. The gospel choir also performed Etta James’ uplifting version of “Amen/This Little Light of Mine” as the newlyweds left the chapel.
After the service, the newlyweds travelled through Windsor along a route lined by an estimated 100,000 people, cheering and waiving at them.
All 600 guests were invited to a lunchtime reception at St. George’s Hall, hosted by the Queen. A second reception was expected to be held later attended by the couple’s close friends and family.
Markle was married once before, from 2011 to 2013, to producer Trevor Engelson.