The guest list: Who's going to the wedding? Who isn't?
Newsletter: Your invitation to royal wedding news ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials
Welcome to The Royal Fascinator, your invitation to royal wedding news and analysis ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials on May 19. Sign up here and it will land as a newsletter in your inbox every Saturday.
Who got an invitation?
As the royal wedding approaches, it's been one of the biggest questions: Who's invited? The Spice Girls, perhaps? Harry was a big fan as a teenager. And what about Meghan's friends, such as actor Priyanka Chopra or tennis star Serena Williams?
Some of the most fevered speculation surrounded whether a former U.S. president known to be a good friend of the groom might be there. But Barack Obama won't be going. Neither will current President Donald Trump nor Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On the Obama-Trump front, much attention focused on whether Trump, whom Meghan publicly criticized a couple of years ago, might get his nose out of joint if he wasn't invited and his predecessor was. Perhaps some U.K. government officials are relieved none of this will be an issue after all.
The absence of officials is a bit of a surprise, says Roya Nikkhah, royal correspondent for the Sunday Times in London. But Harry and Meghan have said they wanted a less "grand" affair than his elder brother William's marriage to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in 2011.
Still, Harry's relative position in the line of succession — fifth and soon to fall to sixth with the imminent arrival of William and Kate's third child — means there isn't the same need for the diplomatic or political representation seen among the 1,900 guests for William and Kate, or the 2,500 when William and Harry's father, Charles, the heir to the throne, married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
But there will be a good crowd next month — 600 or so have been invited, with a focus on family, friends and those with charitable connections to the couple. And because "everyone at St. George's Chapel will have a direct link with either Harry or Meghan, it will give the service a more intimate feel, even though it will be a full-blown, official royal wedding," says Nikkhah.
Most guest lists have their sticky wickets, however, particularly given family dynamics. Harry's aunt, Sarah Ferguson, who is divorced from Prince Andrew and was unceremoniously dubbed the "awkward aunt" recently, may be invited. (She wasn't asked to William and Kate's wedding and flew off to Thailand instead.) There has been speculation about which of Meghan's closest relatives would attend. Tabloid attention on some of her step-siblings has not been kind, and at this point, it's not looking likely they will be there.
Harry and Meghan also said they wanted to have 2,640 members of the public invited to the grounds outside the chapel. Among them will be Faith Dickinson, a 15-year-old girl from Peterborough, Ont., who founded a group that makes fleece blankets for soldiers and patients. She tweeted that she's "humbled and honoured to be included in their very special day."
Still, the crowd outside the chapel appears likely to be much smaller than the 8,000 members of the public invited when Harry's uncle Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999.
What about the baby?
Before the wedding, the Royal Family will be focused on another high-profile moment: the arrival of William and Kate's third child, who already has an official web page.
Some speculation suggests Kate's due date is around April 23 — a detail the Royal Family keeps tightly under wraps. If the baby came two days earlier, the new sibling for Prince George and Princess Charlotte would share a birthday with their great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, who turns 92 this year.
The new prince or princess will be born at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in central London, just like George and Charlotte, and William and Harry a generation before. Parking restrictions around the hospital were put in place this week.
As for the newborn's name, expect something that doesn't veer far from royal tradition. This week, bookmaker William Hill had Mary as the favourite for a girl at 3/1 odds, followed by Alice (6/1) and Victoria (8/1). On the boy's side, there was no clear favourite, with Frederick, Albert and Arthur all at 12/1. And if you really want to gamble on a Prince Nigel or a Princess Posh, the odds are 500/1.
"It was supposed to be a small family affair."
— Prince William had a moment of levity with Kate Middleton's father, Michael Middleton, according to a lip reader, as they arrived at the beginning of the wedding ceremony on April 29, 2011.
Will it rain on their wedding day? Maybe not. One long-range forecast suggests at least some sunshine in Windsor on May 19. [The Independent]
No need to buy a toaster. Meghan and Harry are asking for donations to charity rather than wedding gifts. [The Guardian]
Will Meghan's arrival really change things within the House of Windsor, or will it change her? [The Daily Beast]
It's often been said the Queen has a great sense of humour. She was in fine form with David Attenborough in a documentary that's getting a lot of attention in the U.K. right now. [The Telegraph]
From Lorne E.: Presumably, the "best man" is Will? Any news on maid of honour?
There's no official word yet on who will stand up with Harry and Meghan. Male members of the Royal Family typically have supporters, rather than a best man. Harry was at William's side in 2011 and some suggest he was actually the de facto best man. For Meghan, much speculation has focused on the possibility Jessica Mulroney, a friend from her Toronto days, might be by her side on May 19. Royal brides don't typically have adult bridesmaids, although Kate had her sister, Pippa Middleton, walking down the aisle along with several much younger bridesmaids.
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