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FAQ: 17 facts about the royal wedding (including who pays)

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What are the details of the royal wedding, and where can I watch?

The royal wedding of Prince Harry, 33, to actress Meghan Markle, 36, will take place inside St. George’s Chapel, Westminster, on Saturday, May 19 at 12 noon London time (7 a.m. Eastern, 4 a.m. Pacific). You can watch it online in numerous locations, including via BBC America’s livestream.

How does this wedding break from tradition?

Meghan Markle is the first biracial person to marry into the Royal Family and one of the first divorcees. She is also the first woman whose wedding invitations referred to her as “Ms.” rather than “Miss,” a reference to her divorce from producer Trevor Engelson in 2013.

Who will preside at the ceremony?

The marriage ceremony will be performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who has said he is “nervous about dropping the rings.”

Who is the American bishop participating in the service?

In another break with tradition, the sermon will be delivered by Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, rather than a member of the Church of England.

What does Curry believe?

Curry called for a national fast to oppose President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the federal budget for SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid. He is also an outspoken supporter of ecclesiastical marriage and ordination for same-sex couples, has criticized President Trump for barring transgender people from serving in the military, and has said that Christians must support the DACA program for illegal immigrants brought into the United States at a young age, because “our Christian values are at stake.” Welby has called Curry a “brilliant pastor, stunning preacher, and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

How much does a royal wedding cost?

The cost of recent royal marriage ceremonies has ranged from $34 million to $70 million in current dollars. Some estimates set the total cost of this royal wedding around $45 million.

Who pays for a royal wedding?

Kensington Palace released a statement saying: “As was the case with the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Royal Family will pay for the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards.”

The Queen will receive £82.2 million ($105 million) a year, starting next year.

Ultimately, as with all government-funded activities, the taxpayer foots the bill.

Do UK taxpayers resent paying these costs?

A recent YouGov poll found that 57 percent of UK citizens believe the royal couple should pay for the full cost of the wedding, including the costs of the police.

“Taxpayers should not be funding a private wedding, no matter who is getting married,” the group Republic, which calls for the abolition of the monarchy, has petitioned. “If Harry and Meghan want to turn their big day into a public event, they need to pick up the bill – all of it.” As of this writing, its petition has attracted 33,308 signatures.

What wedding gifts will the royal couple receive?

In lieu of gifts, Prince Harry and Meghan have requested donations to seven charities: Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), Crisis, the Myna Mahila Foundation, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, StreetGames, Surfers Against Sewage, and The Wilderness Foundation UK. The last royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton garnered in excess of $1.7 million in donations for 26 charities.

Who will walk Markle down the aisle?

Markle has a strained relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, who spent the recent days staging a series of publicity stunts with UK paparazzi. He now says he is recovering from a heart procedure and will not attend. Neither will two of her half-siblings.

Prince Charles will walk Meghan down the aisle. Reportedly, she will begin the walk on her own, then be joined for a few steps by Prince Charles as she approaches the quire, then complete the walk to the altar alone.

Who else will take part in the ceremony?

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, will attend; she met with Queen Elizabeth II for tea on Friday afternoon.

Prince William will be his brother’s best man. Markle will have no maid of honor.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who turns 97 next month, plans to attend the wedding just six weeks after his hip replacement.

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will attend. She has not announced what color hat she will wear, but The Spectator reports “Ladbrokes’ odds: yellow 33%, blue 20%, peach 17%, green 14%, white 14%.”

What is the “Instrument of Consent”?

Before the couple could marry, Queen Elizabeth II had to sign a formal “Instrument of Consent” allowing the ceremony to take place.  The heart of the text, written entirely in calligraphy on vellum, states: “We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, K.C.V.O., and Rachel Meghan Markle.”

The symbols illuminating the text – including the Welsh red dragon and rose, thistle, and shamrock – testify to the royals’ representation of all the UK.

The Instrument includes elements of the Spencer family shield and has a transatlantic aspect: olive branches “adopted from the Great Seal of the United States,” as well as two golden poppies in honor of California. Her Royal Majesty signed the document “Elizabeth R.” and impressed it with the Great Seal of the Realm on March 14. The Instrument, which is required by the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act, will be presented to the couple after their nuptials.

Will Markle wear white?

The habit of brides wearing white dresses began with Queen Victoria, when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Prior to that, wedding dresses were merely more stylish version of contemporary dresses.

It is believed Markle will wear white, and have two dresses (as Kate Middleton did), but the designer remains a closely guarded secret.

What flower must be included in every royal bouquet?

Every royal bouquet includes a sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria’s personal garden.

What is the tradition behind the royal wedding cake?

Since Queen Victoria, the royal wedding cake has been … fruitcake. However, the royal fruitcake features dried fruit soaked in alcohol, mixed with brown sugar, spices, butter, and flour. In the Victorian era, the ingredient “represented the vastness of the British empire, using ingredients from far-flung corners of the globe,” according to hris Dodd, a pastry chef at Dalloway Terrace in London.

What royal title will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle be granted?

After their marriage, the couple is widely predicted to be called the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. However, the Queen, as always, has other options. Prince Harry is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.

What happens after their marriage?

A team of four Westminster Greys will pull the carriage carrying the royal couple. A second reception for 200 people will take place at Frogmore House.

The couple plans to delay their honeymoon to Namibia, so they can attend Prince Charles’ 70th birthday on May 22.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock. For editorial use only.)

Rev. Ben Johnson Rev. Ben Johnson is Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.

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