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PLANNING A ROYAL WEDDING 3: BEHIND THE SCENES
Jessica Hart and Liz Fielding
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry at Windsor Castle on 19 May, we’ll all be eager to see the fairy-tale elements of a royal wedding: the majestic setting of Windsor Castle, the gathering of royal guests, the cheering crowds lining the street, the horse-drawn carriage taking the bride and groom through Windsor and then back to the Castle along the iconic Long Walk to a reception in St George’s Hall.
We won’t see how much work and planning goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the wedding and reception goes off without a hitch. Anyone who has planned a wedding knows how much thought has to go into every tiny detail; imagine that you are a royal bride and need to think in addition about where the television cameras will go, security, involving the public, planning a processional route …
If she’s sensible, Meghan Markle will have passed many of these decisions onto the experienced members of the royal household who are old hands at running royal events with the meticulous precision for which the British monarchy is famous. The horses and carriage that will take Meghan and Prince Harry on a route through the town of Windsor will come from the Royal Mews, where staff will be up very early indeed that morning to exercise the horses and make sure that they are looking their immaculate best. No doubt the carriage will be given a final polish too.
Inside the castle, the royal chef will have been planning the menu for the reception ever since the wedding was announced. He and his team of chefs work in the huge medieval kitchen at Windsor Castle, but the canapes will be served by liveried footmen from what is known as ‘G’ (or General) Branch of the royal household. In the last few days and hours before the wedding, members of ‘H’ (Household) branch will be making sure that St George’s Hall looks immaculate, with every piece of silver-gilt or wood polished to a mirror shine, while the craftsmen of ‘C’ branch will have removed every last scratch or dent. Windsor Castle is not a museum: it is a working castle, used for a variety of events, and there are inevitable spills and chips and wear-and-tear as people sit on the chairs, walk on the carpets, drink from the glasses and eat off the exquisite porcelain.
Like Meghan Markle, Hope passes all the behind the scenes arrangements onto her close friend, Ally Parker. Ally is super efficient and having worked for celebrity magazines herself, understands exactly what Hope needs to do.
Because Prince Harry is unlikely to be King, his wedding can be a more private affair than his elder brother’s. Nevertheless, he and Meghan Markle have invited 2,600 members of the public into the grounds of Windsor Castle to share in the atmosphere of their wedding day. Ally suggests a similar scheme (and honestly, Liz thought of this long before they did!). Hope and Jonas may have chosen an intimate country wedding, but the little village of Combe St Philip is about to be inundated with press and paparazzi.
Instead of St George’s Chapel, they are marrying in the village church and the reception will be in a marquee in the grounds of Hope’s childhood home, so numbers are limited. It is Ally’s idea to throw a separate party for the villagers and to involve them as far as possible in the celebrations, and she sets it all in motion: booking musicians, getting the WI to make cupcake posies for the tables, setting up a huge screen so that everyone can watch the ceremony and even organising a carousel and bouncy castle to keep the children amused.
Ally’s doing a great job pulling together the details of the wedding, but the head of security for the royal family of San Michele, Count Fredrik Jenssen is suspicious of her background. He’s going to keep a close eye on Ally Parker, he decides. A very close eye.
Photos from Bigstock or authors’ own
Read Ally’s story now in The Bridesmaid’s Royal Bodyguard!
Liz Fielding was born with itchy feet. She made it to Zambia before her twenty-first birthday and, gathering her own special hero and a couple of children on the way, lived in Botswana, Kenya and Bahrain. She has more than seventy books in print and has been translated into more languages than she can remember (she is very big in Japan!) She has won a number of awards, including two RITAs in the US and the RoNA Rose in the UK.