Living the life of a royal isn’t necessarily a rosy walk where one gets to do whatever one pleases. There are rules to this thing. When it comes to stuff like marriage, it can get very involved.
You may or may not have noticed, but Britain’s royal family has many traditions in place that have existed for centuries. Although things have loosened up in the past few decades, some things don’t change.
With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love affair the topic of the season, people are wondering about which royal customs will be upheld for their nuptials. From the engagement to the wedding and everything that happens in between, we’re highlighting some of these protocols and practices that are influencing Meghan and the prince’s union. Rules are rules.
Queen’s Blessing is Required
Permission must be granted by the Queen in order for a royal family member to propose. It’s in writing with The Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
Formal Engagement Announcement
All royal engagements get the royal treatment with a formal announcement to the public and press.
This is fairly recent, but following the official announcement of a royal engagement, an interview with the couple takes place for the press.
Bride Must Wear White
Queen Victoria started this tradition in England in 1840.
Catholic Marriages are Not Allowed
According to the 1701 Act of Settlement, royals are banned from marrying Catholics. The royals head the Church of England, which is Protestant. It’s speculated that Meghan Markle will be baptized into the Protestant faith before her marriage.
Invites Come from the Queen
Wedding invitations are sent out by the Queen herself on behalf of members of the royal family. Almost 2,000 were delivered for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
Wedding Ceremony Seating is Right
The royal family is always seated on the right side of the church unless the groom is not a royal.
Female Guest Attire
Women attending the wedding must wear dress hats.
Each Bridal Bouquet Has a Special Touch
Myrtle is known as the flower of love and marriage, and has been included in royal bouquets since 1858, when Queen Victoria’s own daughter Victoria wed. Each royal bride carries a sprig cut from the same bush.
The Bouquet is Not Tossed
After the wedding, the bride lays her bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by the Queen Mother when she married King George VI.
Instead, the groom has pageboys— children of family or friends. They typically walk down the aisle and carry the wedding rings. They sometimes help to carry the bride’s train. Look out for Prince George in his uncle’s wedding.
But the Groom Gets Support
Royal bridegrooms typically have supporters and no best man. Prince Charles had two of his brothers serve as his supporters. Prince William bucked tradition a bit and had Prince Harry as his best man. Prince Harry is expected to do the same with his brother.
Bridesmaids are Children
In America, we’re used to seeing women proceed down the aisle before the bride. With royal weddings, a group of girls between the ages of 5 and 17 accompany the bride down the aisle.
As is tradition with all royal brides, you can count on seeing Meghan Markle wearing a tiara, likely from the family’s jewelry collection.
A horse-drawn coach usually transports the couple from the ceremony venue to the reception. Most couples will also ride in one to the ceremony, but Kate Middleton chose to ride in a car.
A Palace Wave
The newly wedded couple and other members of the royal family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and wave to the public.
Groom Wears Military Regalia
Since it’s customary for male members of the royal family to serve in the military, it’s also customary for them to wear their formal uniforms for the ceremony.
Bands of Welsh Gold
A tradition that began with the Queen Mother in the 1920s, newlyweds received wedding bands made of Welsh gold that’s sourced from the same nugget. It’s so rare that its price fetches more than gold from South Africa or Russia.
The Cake Flavor is Standard
And in Britain, that means fruit cake. Dried fruits infused with brandy are the ingredients in this traditional wedding cake.
In addition to the fruitcake as a celebration dessert, there’s also a second cake that’s typically chosen by the prince. Prince William chose a chocolate biscuit cake, but the chef for Prince Harry’s wedding will probably keep it a secret until the big day.
Weddings are a Daytime Affair
Weddings are always held early in the day, no later than noon.
Immediately following the ceremony, there’s a “wedding breakfast” that’s served for guests, similar to a brunch. There is also an evening reception where dinner and dancing is in order.
An official wedding photo that includes members of the bridal party and royal family will be taken.
Royal Family Pays the Tab
In many American families, it’s custom for the bride’s family (or the couple) to pay for wedding expenses. Not the case here, where the royal family takes care of the wedding’s costs.
Guests receive a piece of wedding cake in the mail as a memento and small token of thanks.
What do you think of these royal wedding rules? Are there any “musts” in your family when it comes to marriages?