Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex arrived at the royal wedding at Windsor Friday as his cousin Princess Eugenie of York prepared to wed her longtime commoner boyfriend in a lower-key repeat of the nuptials that enchanted the world when Harry wed his American girlfriend Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in May.
The assembled guests are awaiting the bride but Meghan wore a deep navy blue coat-and-dress outfit by Givenchy with a matching fascinator.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the bride’s grandparents, entered the church to a trumpet fanfare and have been seated.
The royal bride may not be as well known outside Britain, let alone her groom, Jack Brooksbank, a former bartender turned tequila brand rep, but a royal wedding is still something in the United Kingdom and the ancient town of Windsor was prepared to celebrate.
Even before dawn, hours before the ceremony was to begin in St. George’s Chapel inside the castle gates, people were gathering in the narrow flag-festooned streets in front of souvenir shops stuffed with royal wedding knickknacks (although much of it featured Harry and Meghan).
The wind was described as gusty, which has been a problem for the female guests and the elaborate hats that are required head gear at a royal wedding.
Celebrities among the guests were among the first of the arrivals, including Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry’s former girlfriend who is a close friend of Eugenie. Liv Tyler, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were also spotted entering the church. Cara Delevingne and Demi Moore were also there.
Harry and Meghan arrived to cheers, as did Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, who wore a claret-colored dress.
Eugenie’s uncle, the queen’s youngest son Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were among the first senior royals to arrive, with their son James, Viscount Severn. Their daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, will be in the bridal party.
They were followed by Eugenie’s aunt, Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, and her daughter Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall, and her son, Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn.
Large signs at the castle’s ticket booth welcomed people to the wedding, but many visitors earlier in the week seemed unaware of what was going to happen, the Associated Press reported.
“No interest,” said Michael Taylor, a drummer from Chicago who toured the imposing castle Wednesday — but didn’t know about the wedding. “I don’t know anything about her. If she walked past me right now, I wouldn’t even know.”
Eugenie, 28, and one of Harry’s cousins, is the younger daughter of Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and the sister of Princess Beatrice, 30. Sarah wore a Kelly green dress and hat while Beatrice was in a royal blue off-the-shoulder dress with a headband-style fascinator.
Eugenie and her sister are among the eight grandchildren of the queen, 92, and her husband, Prince Philip, 97, who led the extended royal family at the wedding. Philip is frail and still recovering from hip surgery but he walked unaided behind his wife into the church. The queen was dressed in a pale blue coat and dress outfit and hat.
Eugenie is marrying her boyfriend of seven years, James “Jack” Brooksbank, 32, the commoner son of an accountant. A former manager of a celebrity nightclub in London, he now works as the European manager for George Clooney‘s Casamigos Tequila brand.
Special guests representing British charities began assembling inside the castle gates near the chapel where they will watch guests and the wedding party arrive, listen to a live broadcast of the ceremony and watch as bride and groom depart the chapel afterward.
Some of the 800-plus guests and 1,200 special guests representing charities began arriving around 4 a.m. ET, two hours before the start of the ceremony.
Clooney and his wife, Amal, who attended Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding in St. George’s Chapel on May 19, were expected at Eugenie and Jack’s nuptials, although this was still up in the air at the last minute.
But Harry and Meghan will be leaving early to make a long flight to Australia early Sunday for the start of their two-week Down Under tour.
Prince William and Duchess Kate’s two eldest children, Prince George, 5, and Princess Charlotte, 3, will serve as page boy and bridesmaid – their third family wedding in 15 months. Wearing white outfits, the children appeared lively and excited.
The only senior member of the family not expected is Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles, Eugenie’s uncle, who had a long-planned prior engagement at a school in Scotland.
All eyes will naturally be focused on the bride’s couture gown as usual, as well as the dresses of her sister Beatrice, her maid of honor, and her mother, the irrepressible redhead duchess still known as “Fergie.” A flock of other little royals, also will be among the bridesmaids and page boys. charmed the assembled. Eugenie will be walked down the aisle by her father, 58.
As happened at the earlier wedding, the ceremony will be followed by a 15-minute carriage procession through part of Windsor in a shorter version of the carriage procession Harry and Meghan had.
Princess Eugenie and longtime boyfriend Jack Brooksbank are tying the knot after more than six years together.
After the procession, the families will assemble in the White Drawing Room at the castle to take the official pictures. Guests will attend a lunch hosted by the queen at the castle, followed by an evening reception hosted by Eugenie’s parents at Royal Lodge on the castle estate.
The Sussex wedding featured two receptions, one hosted by the queen and one hosted by Prince Charles that evening. Eugenie and Jack will have a two-day reception, with an all-day festival-style event scheduled for Saturday at the Royal Lodge.
After the wedding, Eugenie, who works for a London art gallery, is expected to keep her royal title, HRH Princess Eugenie, but will likely add Mrs. Jack Brooksbank.
This wedding was intended to be way less noisy than Harry and Meghan’s globally watched nuptials, so the amount of Eugenie-and-Jack swag available for purchase has been much reduced in comparison.
“It’s going to be shirts and some mugs. A few people have been asking for it, but compared to Harry-Meghan, it’s not that big,” said Salman Khan at The King and Queen gift shop. Eugenie items have been hard to find because only a few suppliers are manufacturing them, he added.
“This is different, but it’s still quite good for the town,” said Khan. “The whole town is still excited. It’s going to be a good day for everybody,” he said.
Security has been omnipresent in the days leading up to the wedding, thanks to the presence of so many celebrities and members of the royal family.
Police teams checked and sealed water drains near the castle, and sniffer dogs sniffed for explosives in the shops, restaurants and tea rooms frequented by tourists.
The royal family is paying for the wedding, but the anti-monarchist group Republic is lobbying Parliament to prevent any public money from being spent on security or other wedding-related costs.
But that won’t go over well in Windsor, the town that surrounds the near-1,000-year-old castle that is the seat of the royal Windsor dynasty to which Eugenie belongs. The royal family’s popularity is higher than ever, and Harry and Meghan’s wedding helped bring in even more tourists in recent months.
“We are getting a lot of American and Chinese and Spanish visitors,” said Jag Khaira at the Nell Gwynn Tearoom. “A lot of tourists don’t even know about this wedding Friday, but it will bring in the crowds and should be a good day for us.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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