Prince Charles to walk Meghan down aisle


PRINCE Charles will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle after her father dropped out of the ceremony.

In a statement released by Kensington Palace on 10am Friday local time (7pm AEST) it was confirmed that Harry’s father, the Prince of Wales, would be stepping up to walk Ms Markle down the aisle at St George’s Chapel.

“Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George’s Chapel on her Wedding Day. The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way,” the statement said.

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Ms Markle’s own father, Thomas Markle, dropped out of the wedding earlier this week after heart problems and controversy around his dealings with paparazzi.

Ms Markle’s mother Doria Ragland will be with her in the car that escorts her to the wedding.

UK betting agencies previously had the best odds on Ms Ragland walking her daughter down the aisle. Prince William was also a contender.

British papers have reported that Ms Markle intentionally delayed the announcement over who would be walking her down the aisle for a few days as a mark of respect to her father.

And in more good news, Prince Philip will be at the big day, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

It had been feared the 96-year-old Prince might miss it after he recently underwent a hip replacement.

Philip, who is the Queen’s husband, retired from public life in August last year after seven decades of public service.

THE BEGINNING OF FOREVER

Their royal romance warmed hearts across the globe, and tonight, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will tie the knot in a fairy-tale wedding ceremony set to be watched by billions.

The 33-year-old ginger-haired prince and the stunning 36-year-old American actor will make their wedding vows at midday — 9pm AEST — in a medieval chapel in front of the Queen Elizabeth, royalty, celebrities, TV actors and friends.

Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles, will be walking Meghan down the aisle after her father Thomas dropped out of the ceremony.

ROYAL EUPHORIA TAKES OVER THE WORLD

More than 100,000 people will line the streets of the historic royal township of Windsor, west of London, as the couple take a carriage-ride through the streets to celebrate, accompanied by trumpet fanfares and soldiers on horseback.

The marriage between the popular Prince Harry and the poised American has generated a $1 billion spending boom in the UK, as the country readies for an enormous party, with pubs staying open late, and hotels and private homes hosting parties and screening the wedding live.

Tens of thousands of American tourists have flown to the UK to be a part of the historic event, and billions of people are expected to watch the pair say “I will’’ live on TVs, newspaper websites and through social media.

SHOCKING WEEK WON’T RUIN BIG DAY

The prince and Ms Markle shrugged off a difficult week involving Ms Markle’s family and headed to Windsor Castle for final, secret wedding rehearsals, walking through the hour-long service inside the walls of the 13th-century St George’s Chapel.

The pair smiled as they were rushed through the crowds already gathering in Windsor, and hours later, were to introduce Ms Markle’s mother Doria Ragland to Queen Elizabeth, 92, who was spotted driving into Windsor Castle with one of her pet dogs alongside her.

Ms Ragland, a 61-year-old yoga teacher and social worker, had flown into the UK earlier from week from Los Angeles and was supporting her daughter through a horrendous few days of chaos caused by her father, Thomas Markle, and members of his family.

Earlier, the anxious bride had been in tears and issued a rare public statement confirming her father, a reclusive 73-year-old who now lives in Mexico, would not be walking her down the aisle. He had undergone minor heart surgery in Mexico, and days earlier had embarrassed the royal family when it was revealed he was collaborating with the paparazzi.

Ms Markle had also been viciously attacked in the media by her half-sister Samantha Grant, while her half-brother Thomas and extended family members showed up at Windsor despite not getting a wedding invitation.

Her estranged nephew, marijuana farmer Tyler Dooley, announced to the world he had grown a new strain of marijuana called Markle Sparkle in honour of the big event.

But with her mother at her side and her close group of girl friends from America and Canada jetting in, Ms Markle pushed on with final preparations.

She made her name in the TV series Suits, and the stars of the show have all arrived in London, with Ms Markle’s on-screen husband Patrick J Adams arriving on Thursday. His character Mike Ross married Ms Markle’s character Rachel Zane in Ms Markle’s final appearance on the show earlier this month. The actor has given up her career in order to become a royal wife.

Other shows stars including the lead actor Gabriel Macht and his Australian-born wife Jacinda Barrett, Rick Hoffman, Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty have all been spotted in London.

FINISHING TOUCHES AS DAY ARRIVES

The final touches were being put on their wedding cake, a modern lemon and elderflower creation designed for them by American-English baker Claire Ptak.

Photographs shows the multi-layered cake under creation, which Ms Ptak revealed contained 200 Amalfi lemons, 10 bottles of Sandringham Elderflower Cordial made using elderflower from the Queen’s Sandringham estate, 20kg of butter, 20kg of flour, 20kg of sugar and 500 organic eggs.

“It’s a lemon sponge — a special sponge that I developed just for the couple, and we drizzle the layers with elderflower cordial from the Sandringham estate so it’s really lovely and as local as you can get,’’ Ms Ptak said.

The exterior of the cake will be decorated with buttercream and fresh peonies and roses, all in white and cream.

The wedding will be a public relations boon for the UK, with more than 5000 journalists accredited to cover the event, and a glorious spring day forecast with a maximum temperature of 21 degrees.

All senior members of the royal family including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and Prince William and his wife Catherine will be in attendance when the pair exchange vows in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Celebrities including David and Victoria Beckham are on the guest list, while Elton John, one Prince Harry’s mother the late Princess Diana’s favourite performers, is hotly tipped to be singing at the reception.

Ms Markle’s mother, who has been divorced from her father for 30 years, had a cup of tea at Kensington Palace on Thursday with Harry’s father Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla, as well as meeting Harry’s brother Prince William and Catherine.

William, who will be best man, and Catherine travelled to Windsor with Harry and Meghan for the final rehearsal.

The actor and her mother were last night due to move into her pre-wedding accommodation, a glamorous five-star hotel a short drive away from Windsor.

Prince Harry and Prince William were to stay at another hotel nearby, ensuring the bride and groom spend their last night apart, and the first glimpse Prince Harry will have of his bride on their wedding day is when she steps into the medieval St George’s Chapel ahead of their one-hour service.

In the royal town of Windsor, the British Armed forces also undertook their final rehearsals, with the streets shut down as soldiers, marching bands and horses wound their way along the carriage route Prince Harry and Ms Markle will take.

An empty carriage pulled by Windsor Grey horses was driven through the streets, and 28 members of the Household Cavalry — the regiment Prince Harry served with — rode on horses behind the carriage.

Units marching in formation included the Army Air Corps, the Royal Gurkha Rifles and the Royal Marines, while the Band of the Household Cavalry performed a fanfare with trumpets and drums.

Thousands of fans lined the streets and armed police took up position around the town, with sniffer dogs and armed officers patrolling the castle precinct.

An enormous security operation has been put in place, with visitors today to be subjected to airport-style security checks, vehicle barriers, and a large, heavily-armed police presence.

The local council warned visitors to start arriving from 4am, with all car parks expected to be full by 6am.





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