The Royal Wedding arrives on Saturday. Here are some things to remember when tuning in, courtesy of Royal Wedding Watch.
The Royal Wedding for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will arrive this Saturday, starting around 4: 30 a.m. ET. Though Americans are not part of the Commonwealth and fought an entire war to be that way, in the more modern era, our fascination with the British Royal Family has only grown. And now we have one marrying an American, which makes this probably the biggest Royal Wedding of our lifetimes. As such, PBS has been airing a series of specials this week to help those who never really took an interest in Royal Etiquette before and has been giving a crash course, co-hosted by ABC's Meredith Vieira and BBC's Matt Baker.
Along with Vieira and Baker, the BBC's Anita Rani and English historian Lucy Worsley have explored different facets of the wedding, including all the usual vendors, from florists to catering to the history of Royal Marriages.
Let's run down some of the major points from the episodes so far.
Episode 1: A Wedding Is Announced
- Each episode is dotted with short videos deep diving into royal history or featuring facets of wedding planning
- There was a piece on the UK in general, London and the Thames, as well as a check in Royal Family florist who will be doing decor and 135 white, rose buttonhole flowers.
- A video check in with the household cavalry who are part of the escort both to and after the ceremony
- A history of Winsor Castle and St. George's Chapel, which will be the site of the reception and the ceremony respectively.
- How Victoria created what we think of as the modern wedding, plus an interview with the costumer from Victoria, which also airs on PBS.
There was also discussion about the Royal Family's need to be in control of the message, and how televised weddings like Charles and Diana's are part of what fuels this popularity, as well as the timing of the modern weddings coming at moments when the country needs a "pick me up." There was also discussion of how many of the choices Harry and Meghan are making are more American, like the refusal not to do a reception line, the choice to do a Lemon cake instead of the traditional fruitcake.
Episode 2: What To Wear
- As fitting the theme, this episode started with a piece on a history of Royal Wedding gowns, hairpieces, veils, and shoes.
- There was a lovely deep dive into Royal menswear and uniform creation, not only for weddings but for their major appearance in general
- A piece on Garrard of London, who has been making jewelry for the Royal Family since 1735.
- Harry and Meghan Merch! There's lots of it.
There continued to be a debate if Harry might shave his trademark beard, because the traditional full uniform for his groomsman attire, etiquette demands he be cleanly shaven.
No, we still don't know what or who Meghan will wear, nor will we until the day of, and we won't get a good look at it until she arrives at Windsor. Rumor has it the dress is either by Ralph & Russo or Stella McCarthy. There was also talk of how Meghan's style is changing the way the family is perceived, if she should wear a tiara, a piece on the engagement ring, plus a live demonstration on putting together a bouquet for Meghan to carry.
Episode 3: Ceremony
- Ceremony hats were the subject of the first special, explaining the difference between hats and fascinators.
- A piece on Royal genealogy and the peerage system
- A piece on the gloves and the royal family, who still wear them in public despite them falling out of fashion in the 1960s.
- An interview with the makers of the Royal Brass played by the trumpeters for the wedding and other occasions.
- A piece on the Royal Family's unconventional moments, which is a nice way of bringing up Henry VIII.
The pageboys and bridesmaids were announced on Wednesday, so the live portion focused on that news, as well as the arrival of Meghan's mother in London, making it even more obvious how the specials have been ignoring the Thomas Markle Sr./TMZ debacle which also came to a head that day. Also, there was a talk on how Beatrice and Eugenie desperately need stylists, because they have no taste, and will probably wear terrible hats again, as well as the musical acts expected to perform.
Episode 4: How To Celebrate
- This episode focused on how this is still a family wedding, and the first special featured a very outer circle level of the royal family gossiping about being a teenager at his wedding to Diana
- Then there was a ride-through of the post-ceremony parade route through the streets around Windsor
- A piece on Hampton Court Palace and the history of post-wedding feasts/receptions
- One of the UK's most famous chefs recreated famous wedding dishes from UK history for tasting, plus some dishes to be on the menu on Saturday
- A video featuring the royal wedding cakes over the last century (like the gowns, the cake was also a Victorian invention), and how Harry and Meghan's cake is breaking with tradition.
Finally, Thomas Markle is mentioned, but only after the Palace deigned to acknowledge the week-long ongoing TMZ-reported saga once it was confirmed he medically couldn't attend the wedding ceremony. He is given 30 seconds before moving on to sympathetic chatter over how Meghan is so modern for having a "fractured family." (At least we know this PBS special is Palace approved!) It does lead to one of the few useful pieces of gossip all week: the reason there is no Maid of Honor is Meghan's BFF is a man and the Palace refused to allow a male MoH, so she just refused to have one. (This also explains why Prince Charles is walking her down the aisle, and not her mom which would have made more sense in any other setting. The Palace still is enforcing gender roles.)
Episode 5: Happily Ever After airs on Friday, May 18, 2018, from 10:30 - 11:30 p.m. The promised coverage includes Meghan's life as a royal once the ceremony is over plus honeymoon speculation.
If you've missed any episodes, they're available for streaming on your local PBS site. All are fun and fluffy and totally worth binging either before or after the ceremony.
The live coverage of the wedding starts only a few hours later on Saturday morning between 4:30 and 5 a.m. ET on most PBS stations. Check your local listings.