Two people fell in love, and we all showed up. On a glorious day in Windsor, a day when sunshine and happiness seemed to be in cahoots, millions of us watched, with some pleasant surprise, a wedding where Ben E. King met “God Save the Queen.” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Some of us were DVRing four broadcasts of it, lining them up in the queue above “Prince Harry: Wild No More” and “Harry and Meghan: A Very Modern Romance,” watching attentively with a bagel and a schmear and a not-insignificant “Suits” hangover.
It’s not every day that millions get up before dawn to watch footage of people entering a church, with commentators remarking on each thing that’s happening. What was happening? Well, the public was lining the streets—Twitter was busily pointing out the abundant crowd size, in comparison with other crowd sizes, such as at you-know-who’s you-know-what—and waving little Union Jacks. People affiliated with Meghan and Harry’s charitable causes occupied places of importance. Celebrities appeared—the Beckhams, Serena Williams, George and Amal, Oprah, the cast of “Suits.” Royals wore fascinators or hats looking like Day-Glo dinner plates, daringly askew. Weddings there aren’t like weddings here. As a commentator on BBC America observed, having a wedding is scary enough, but “it is terrifying when you’re about to walk down the aisle, walking literally over the graves of the kings and queens who have come before you.” The Old World, man. It’s weird.
As a “Suits” fan of several hours’ duration, I was delighted to see Markle’s “Suits” co-star and fictional love interest turned husband, Patrick Adams, in the crowd. Here he was looking ponderous, as were other “Suits” cast members. And—action! Church bells began ringing madly as, outside, Princes Will and Harry walked into the church together in military uniforms—black with red stripes down the leg, and crisp black caps. A gorgeous arc of flowers framed the doors of the chapel. As the brothers greeted clergy and removed their caps, we were reminded of the steadily emerging maturity of these two men. The Windsors by now feel like a family who have enjoyed the benefits of therapy and reflection, and even Will’s hair style seems to portend self-acceptance. (“Shout out to Prince William for just going classically male pattern baldness bald while young & not fighting it or shaving his head,” the comedian and writer Rob Delaney recently tweeted.) As for Harry, the days of on-camera Vegas nudity and S.S.-officer costumes, while forever disturbing, feel like an earlier chapter.
Violins started playing; a harp was shown. Elton John, in round pink tinted glasses, was looking adorable. Outside, Markle and her mother sped by the flag-waving crowds in a Rolls-Royce. Prince Charles and Camilla looked mildly pleased; she wore very pale pink, with a hat in the form of a big wheel of feathers. The Queen wore citrus. Beside her, Philip was Philip.
Markle’s Rolls-Royce stopped in front of the chapel. This was it—she was getting out of the car. Two tiny boys in military garb, like a miniature Will-and-Harry set, popped out first. (These were her best friend’s twins.) Markle emerged in a vast white dress designed for Givenchy by the British designer Clare Waight Keller. Its sixteen-foot train and ethereal appearance at first reminded me of a ghost bride—perhaps a more elegant Fruma Sarah, from “Fiddler on the Roof”—but it was in fact quite beautiful in spirit, with floral representations of the entire British Commonwealth. Markle walked down the aisle with Prince Charles; her father is recuperating from a heart attack, and, I hope, was watching at home, having a nice bagel. As she approached, Harry lit up—now he was half of a radiant moment. At the altar, he said something: “You look amazing,” according to Internet experts. When he removed Meghan’s veil, she looked at him with love. I know what she looks like in love—I’ve seen not just “Suits” but “The Dater’s Handbook,” on the Hallmark Channel, in which she learns to choose the right guy over the guy who seems right on paper, and “When Sparks Fly,” in which she learns to follow her heart, under fireworks, on the Fourth of July, but only after bearing the indignity of a bridal-shower toilet-paper gown and veil. Here she wore Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, made in 1932. The priest talked about God knowing all the secrets of our hearts, and Lady Jane Fellowes, Princess Diana’s sister, read from the Song of Solomon: love as strong as death, “passion fierce as the grave,” “flashes of fire, a raging flame.”
More from The New Yorker on the royal wedding.
Then it got American. Bishop Michael Curry, the first black leader of the Episcopal Church, took the pulpit to preach about the redemptive power of love. Suddenly, there were good vibes in the room. We won’t soon forget “Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up.” Then he started talking about Jesus of Nazareth, and then about Martin Luther King, preaching in an American style, with vigor and straight talk; the more excited he got, the more grim the queen looked. Harry and Meghan, seated now, looked content. “Imagine governments and nations where love is the way!” Curry said. “Imagine this tired old world when love is the way!” Markle’s mother nodded, but the fascinator set looked flummoxed. “We will actually treat each other like we are actually family!” he said, smiling and bending down with a hand on his hip. After Curry’s speech, the Kingdom Choir sang “Stand by Me,” and America was very officially in the house. It was thrilling—a genuinely interesting cultural moment.
Meghan and Harry joined hands and said their vows—to have and to hold. When he got a bit stuck with her ring, she tenderly helped him. When they were pronounced husband and wife, the church maintained a quiet dignity and a great roar went up outside. I was surprised to feel tears spring to my eyes. The crowd sang “God Save the Queen”—or, as some of us like to call it, “My Country ’Tis of Thee”—and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, nineteen, of “Britain’s Got Talent,” played some gorgeous cello. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex walked out of the chapel, toward the sunshine. As BBC America people talked somewhat nervously about the energy of Michael Curry, the bride and groom emerged from the nave surrounded by flowers, smiles all around. They kissed—“There is the kiss everyone was hoping for and waiting for!” the BBC said—and the choir combined with the cries of the crowd. The couple headed toward their carriage. Outside: soldiers, white horses, fanfare, little Princess Charlotte waving, gospel singing, and a bit of progress in the air.