After months spent on high alert for an impending announcement from the Palace, royal fans were finally treated to official confirmation of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement in November last year.
As the happy news was shared with the world’s media, the statement (released not, as we'd assumed, through Kensington Palace, but through Prince Charles' office at Clarence House) revealed that the pair will tie the knot in Spring 2018. Though the official date was eventually confirmed as May 19th, at the time we couldn’t help but wonder (Carrie Bradshaw style) whether us commoners would be able to join in on the celebrations with a national bank holiday.
Cast your minds back to the 2010 announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton: you might remember that a wedding date – and an official bank holiday – was confirmed in the days following the press conference shortly after. The following year, the nation took Friday 29th April off to watch wall-to-wall coverage of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey (the wedding weekend came after the Easter bank holidays and was rounded off with the traditional May Day holiday too, blessing the UK with two four-day weekends in a row…)
‘The wedding of Kate and William will be a happy and momentous occasion,’ then-Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the time. ‘We want to mark the day as one of national celebration. A public holiday will ensure that most people possible will have a chance to celebrate on the day.’
So, we continued to ask, would Harry and Meghan get the same treatment? His father Prince Charles’ wedding to Princess Diana was famously marked with a national holiday in 1981; similarly, when Princess Anne tied the knot with Mark Phillips, a special bank holiday was declared for November 1973. However, there is no official precedent for royal nuptials, especially if they are not state weddings (ie. not for a direct heir to the throne). While Prince Andrew had a lavish ceremony in Westminster Abbey similar to those of his older brother and sister, no bank holiday was declared - and as Prince Edward chose a lower-key ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle (sound familiar?) his wedding wasn’t marked with one, either.
Eventually, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that, contrary to (our) speculation, the event will not be marked with a Bank Holiday. Sigh... The PM did, however, offer her 'very warmest congratulations' to the couple.
'This is a time of huge celebration for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the Government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future', she added.
Harry is now sixth in line to the throne, having dropped a place further down the succession after the birth of his second nephew (and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's third child),Prince Louis of Cambridge, meaning that there is no longer a strong imperative for him to choose a high-profile ceremony. Indeed, it's thought that he and Meghan have selected St George's Chapel as a venue to keep things as low key as they can be, in royal wedding terms. 'It would stop the wedding] turning into a total media circus and give the day a sense of privacy that Harry so badly craves,' a source previously told [Us Weekly.
So, while we won't be treated to an extra day off work this time around, we can all take solace in the fact that pubs have extended their opening times to mark the occasion - and surely, that's what Harry would have wanted. Cheers to the bride and groom!