For the most part, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day was absolutely gorgeous. From the stunning fashion to the elegant accents to the palpable love between the bride and the groom, Meghan and Harry’s wedding really was the stuff of dreams. It seemed that day that Meghan was about to embark on her happily ever after, complete with a real-life prince and a fancy new royal title: the Duchess of Sussex.
However, while Harry and Meghan are more in love with each other than ever, the two are no longer active senior members of the royal family. Their decision to step back was a bombshell, which was only amplified when they confirmed their royal departure a year later (via Entertainment Tonight). Top it off with the revelatory interview that Harry and Meghan gave Oprah Winfrey in March of 2021, and now we know that things were a royal mess.
But there was evidence of discord long before Harry and Meghan left their royal roles behind. Here are signs from the royal wedding that the family might be ripped apart.
Royal protocol was already breached going into Meghan and Harry's wedding
In the days leading up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, there was obviously a lot to do and a lot to prepare for. Well, apparently the royal family didn’t do everything that they were supposed to, according to etiquette expert William Hanson. “The royal household should have sent someone out to talk to Mr. Markle immediately and others in Meghan’s family,” he explained in an interview with Page Six. “But that didn’t happen — and it has blown up in their faces.” Oops.
Hanson also placed some of the blame on Meghan’s shoulders as she’s a “commoner,” rendering her ignorant of aspects of royal conduct. To that end, he implored that she reach out to the royal family for advice and instruction. “Meghan is very independent, very headstrong and I would hope she would not be too headstrong or stubborn to accept or listen to this advice,” he continued, adding that he’d like her to learn from her in-laws.
Given this foreshadowing faux pas, it seems clear that Meghan Markle and the royal family weren’t on the same page.
The royal family was "stone-faced" at Megan and Harry's wedding
A wedding is supposed to be a joyous occasion, one that celebrates romantic love, family, and the enduring power of traditions. However, looking at members of the royal family at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that they weren’t at a funeral instead.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth reportedly didn’t look thrilled to be there at all — they appeared “stone-faced,” which doesn’t exactly scream happiness. Additionally, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were seen giggling at some points, and Zara Tindall was spotted with her jaw practically on the ground. And Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles seemed to appear more interested in their programs than the choir in front of them.
Perhaps the queen wasn’t feeling 100 percent that day, and maybe the princesses were just being especially jubilant, considering the momentous occasion. But looking back after everything that’s happened, those expressions seem to be signs that something was going on with Meghan, Harry, and the rest of the royal family.
There appeared to be a "culture clash" at the royal wedding
Meghan Markle is the daughter of a Black woman and a white man, which she discussed in an essay she penned for Elle. And she’s proud of who she is, though it took her some time to fully understand and embrace her background. That was on display the day she married Prince Harry in one of the best royal weddings in history, as the couple selected Bishop Michael Curry to deliver the sermon and arranged for a gospel choir to sing “Stand By Me.” The newlyweds also exited the chapel while “This Little Light of Mine” played, a song with ties to the American Civil Rights movement, as noted by Harper’s Bazaar.
While many heralded the wedding as a perfect fusion of American and British culture, some found the ceremony to be a “culture clash,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “Anybody who got up early to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot should have known that the fairy tale wasn’t going to last,” journalist Dahleen Glanton wrote, adding, “Markle tried her best to seamlessly weave her African American heritage into the traditional royal fabric that has defined Great Britain for centuries, but the pieces just didn’t fit.”
Glanton added that the royal family’s awkward reactions were evidence that “family discord were always there.”
Meghan Markle walked herself down the aisle at her wedding
One wedding tradition that both royals and average folk share is that the bride’s father is usually the person to escort her down the aisle, and if he’s not available, another male family member or friend will often step in. However, when it came to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, Meghan walked by herself down the aisle of the chapel nave, as reported by CNN.
It’s important to note that Prince Charles met Meghan at the quire and escorted her to the altar, as Meghan’s father was not able to attend the ceremony. But still, she was the first royal bride to ever escort herself in such a manner, an indication that she’s not afraid to challenge royal norms. What else could make such a bold, feminist, and independent statement on the big day?
While we at The List absolutely loved to see it, Meghan’s strong statement could also be a sign that she and the royal family might not get along. She was unlike any other bride the royal family had ever seen, preferring to march to the beat of her own drum rather than toe the line.
Why wasn't Kate Middleton Meghan Markle's matron of honor?
Planning a wedding can be an awful lot of work. From selecting the perfect flowers to scoring the most gorgeous wedding dress, there are seemingly endless tasks you have to complete in order to ensure that your big day is perfect.
That also includes picking your bridal party, including the best man and the maid of honor — although Meghan Markle didn’t have the latter when she married Prince Harry. While it’s not customary for royal brides to have a maid of honor in the traditional sense, Kate Middleton bucked that trend when she married Prince William, as noted by Town & Country. So it’s a bit surprising that Meghan didn’t follow suit or pick Kate to fill those shoes. After all, who would better understand what it’s like to marry a prince?
Given the drama that flared between Meghan and Kate during a dress fitting for Princess Charlotte — which we later learned had Meghan in tears, not Kate (via People) — you could interpret Meghan’s decision as a sign that these members of the royal family were not close.
An unconventional wedding cake choice may have ruffled royal feathers
Another wedding tradition is selecting and serving a wedding cake to your guests at the reception. Naturally, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle went all out on theirs, hiring Violet Bakery to create a confection for their 600 wedding guests (via Us Weekly). Reportedly, Megan and Harry requested “a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the flavors of spring,” iced with a buttercream frosting and decorated with flowers. That sounds amazing!
However, for as delicious and beautiful as the cake was, Harry and Meghan threw royal tradition out the window with their choice. According to royal expert Omid Scobie, the couple jettisoned decades of royal tradition when they requested those spring flavors. “This is the first [royal] wedding without a multitiered fruitcake,” he revealed in an interview with Us Weekly.
While a cake is just a cake at the end of the day, Meghan and Harry definitely put their desires over family tradition. In hindsight, this could have just been one more thing that strained the relationship Meghan and Harry had with the royal family.
Prince Harry chose to have a wedding band, breaking with royal tradition
When it comes to jewelry, the royal family has some dazzling pieces. For example, Prince William gave Kate Middleton Princess Diana’s 12-carat sapphire ring when he proposed to her, according to People. And we were all here for the tiara that Meghan Markle wore when she married Prince Harry, which Town & Country reported was a platinum, diamond-encrusted piece that belonged to Queen Mary. Talk about fancy.
Speaking of royal jewelry, Prince Harry broke with tradition when Meghan slid a wedding band onto his left hand. According to Glamour, Prince William, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, and Jack Brookshank (Princess Eugenie’s husband) all made the decision not to wear a wedding band. Prince Charles does wear one, but, instead of his ring finger, it’s on his pinky.
One could argue that Harry was signaling that he’s proud to be a married man and that it’s more important for him to honor that than a royal tradition. But it still could have been a sign that Harry wasn’t willing to go along with certain royal family decisions.
Could the way the chapel smelled have caused a problem?
While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle weren’t afraid to buck royal traditions on their wedding day, they didn’t jettison all of them. For example, they held their ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the venue royal couples have used for hundreds of years, as noted by the royal family’s website. In fact, they were the 16th couple to do so since 1863.
However, it turns out that Meghan might not have been thrilled about one aspect of the historic chapel. According to the Daily Mail, Meghan didn’t like the way that the 15th century building smelled, finding the odor to be musty. To that end, the bride-to-be reportedly asked for air fresheners to be used before everyone arrived. They added that the request “specifically came from Meghan’s office at Kensington Palace.”
In the end, no fresh-smelling sprays were used, as the palace reportedly thought the chapel was fine as is. But did that request offend the queen, who prays at St. George’s Chapel? It’s possible.
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