When you’re an heir to the British throne, a proposal isn’t just a matter of getting down on one knee. Royals who sit in the first six places in the line of succession must seek permission from the Queen before their marriage. So, having recently moved down from fifth into sixth place (following the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third child, Prince Louis) Prince Harry is still bound by this royal rule. Now, ahead of his wedding to Meghan Markle next weekend, Buckingham Palace has shared an image of the official Instrument of Consent, the document denoting the Queen’s approval.
Should you cast your minds back to March this year, you might remember that the Queen has already issued a similar message of approval for the couple, doing so at a meeting of the Privy Council, through a Palace memo. This traditional Instrument of Consent is an official record of the Queen’s consent, hand-written and illuminated upon vellum.
The text of the Instrument reads: ‘NOW KNOW YE that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, K.C.V.O., and Rachel Meghan Markle.’
According to the Palace, the document incorporates a red dragon, the traditional symbol of Wales, alongside the rose, thistle and shamrock, the UK’s three floral emblems. Below this, you can spot Prince Harry’s official Label, which features ‘three tiny escallops’ as a nod to the Spencer family arms.
Another rose appears on the other side of the text, flanked on each side by two golden poppies, the flower of Meghan’s home state, California. In between is a Welsh leek, and underneath the Label are two olive branches, a tribute to the Great Seal of the United States of America.
When the first notice was issued back in March, a small difference between that and the declaration of consent for Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton was noted: while Meghan is referred to by her full name (Rachel Meghan Markle), Kate was styled as ‘our trusty and well-beloved Catherine Middleton.’ Had a touch of Queenly shade been detected?
The short answer is no, not at all. The phrase ‘trusty and well-beloved’ is in fact one which is traditionally used in official documents to describe UK and Commonwealth citizens. As Meghan is not (yet) a British subject, she misses out on the adjectives.
Here's what we know so far about what will happen on the day of the royal wedding...
9:30am: Wedding guests begin to arrive
Wedding guests will begin to arrive – by coach, no less – from 9.30am until 11am, and will walk over to the South Door of St George's Chapel. Prepare to spot assorted Suits stars, Priyanka Chopra, Jessica Mulroney and the Beckhams.
11:20am: The royal family arrive in Windsor
Keep your eyes peeled from 11.20am as members of the Royal Family start to arrive at the Chapel, some on foot, others by car.
11:45am: Harry and William will arrive together
Prince Harry will arrive at St George's Chapel by foot, accompanied by his best man the Duke of Cambridge, and will enter via the West Steps. Here, they'll take the time to greet the members of the public gathered in the Castle precinct, including the charity representatives positioned at the Horseshoe Cloister (just outside the Chapel).
11:50am: Meghan will travel to Windsor Castle with her mother
At around the same time, Meghan and her mother, Doria, will leave their overnight location and travel to the Castle by car, passing through the Long Walk where members of the public are expected to gather. They'll briefly stop at the Castle, allowing Doria to travel on to the Chapel while Meghan is joined by bridesmaids and page boys ahead of her big entrance to the Chapel.
12pm: Meghan walks down the aisle
After Thomas Markle confirmed that he would no longer be walking his daughter down the aisle, having suffered a heart attack last week, it's assumed that Doria will accompany her daughter.
12pm: The wedding service begins
The wedding service itself will take about an hour, with a full order of service set to be unveiled to the public on Saturday morning. We already know that Lady Jane Fellowes, Harry's aunt and the elder sister of the late Princess of Wales will give the reading. All three of Diana's siblings will attend the ceremony, and Harry and Meghan have expressed happiness that they'll be able to celebrate her memory on the day.
1pm: The couple will greet charity representatives
Once they've officially tied the knot, the first thing that Harry and Meghan will do is to greet the 200 representatives from Prince Harry's chosen charities, who'll be gathered in the Horseshoe Cloister. In doing so, the couple are acknowledging how important these organisations will be in their future work; according to the Palace, they are 'delighted that these people who will be such an important part of their official work in the years to come will be the first people they see after the wedding.'
1:05pm: The carriage procession
Then, close family members will gather on the Chapel's steps to wave the couple off, as it's time for Harry and Meghan to step into their carriage (that's the same Ascot Landau that Pippa Middleton rode in at Will and Kate's wedding, in case you needed a refresher) and embark on a 25-minute procession around the castle and town. Hopefully neither of them have previous history with RSI, because all that royal waving could get very tiring. Meghan and Harry's guests will then file out of the church to catch the start of the carriage procession, before heading on to St George's Hall for the reception.
7pm: The couple head to Frogmore House
For all the national excitement, the wedding is a private event, and after the carriage procession, there won't be much left for us to see. The last thing that we'll be able to catch will be the moment that the bride and groom leave the Castle for Frogmore House, where the evening reception will take place.