Start planning your parties now, because Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have confirmed that they plan to marry in May 2018, less than six months after their engagement announcement.
From the matching his-and-hers bracelets that were one of the first clues they were dating, to the engagement ring he designed himself, the prince and bride-to-be have shown themselves to be fans of small but significant details. And it seems the reason for the timing and venue for their wedding is no exception.
According to Entertainment Today and royal expert Kate Nicholl, the prince’s special bond with his grandfather Prince Philip accounts for the hasty wedding date.
“One of the reasons that Prince Harry has wanted this wedding to happen quite quickly – this is really whirlwind by royal standards – is because his 96-year-old grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, is retired now and Prince Harry really wants him to be at his wedding,” Nicholl told ET.
“He's incredibly close to his grandfather and, being 96, Harry thought it was it was a great thing to [have] the wedding sooner rather than later, so his grandfather could be there, fit and healthy.”
Nicholl also connected the couple’s choice to hold the ceremony at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip live, to his close relationship with his grandfather, as well as Harry and Meghan’s shared desire to do things a bit differently.
“He didn't want to get married at the same place as his brother. He didn't want to have such a big royal wedding at Westminster Abbey – it doesn't need to be as big as William's wedding. Harry really wanted to have something a little bit more intimate. The second reason is that he wanted something close to home for the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen.”
As well as being a place where the 33-year-old royal spends significant time with his grandparents nowadays, Windsor is also a place that holds special memories for the prince. His father Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla Parker Bowles held a blessing for their marriage there in 2005.
Nicholls suggested that the couple’s venue choice could reflect their preference for a relatively intimate ceremony.
“I think Harry and Meghan were both united on the idea of having a small, family, intimate wedding,” she said. “I know it doesn't sound small with 800 people, but by royal standards, it is smaller.”
By contrast, Westminster Abbey – where Prince William and Kate Middleton married in April 2011 – holds 2,000 people. The chapel doesn’t have a balcony for the couple to make their first public appearance as husband and wife, but Kensington Palace aides have told Nicholl that the pair are looking into how they can “make the public as much a part of this wedding as they can”.
Put it in your calendars now!