Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot at Windsor Castle on Saturday in a royal wedding like no other, mixing British pomp and African-American culture in front of a celebrity congregation and cheering crowds.
The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchanged vows in St. George’s Chapel in a historic ceremony, sealed with a kiss, which brought the biracial US TV star into the heart of the British monarchy.
As more than 100,000 people packed the sun-baked Windsor streets and millions watched worldwide, Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family were joined inside by stars including Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Elton John, George Clooney and David Beckham.
The couple held hands throughout and exchanged vows in a Church of England service modified to reflect the bride’s heritage and strong sense of independence.
Firebrand US pastor Michael Curry delivered a full-throttle address invoking slaves and the power of love, and a gospel choir sang classics “Stand By Me” and “This Little Light of Mine”.
Markle began her walk down the aisle alone with her 10 bridesmaids and page boys walking behind her flowing white silk dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller at the French fashion house Givenchy.
Her father had been due to meet her half-way but after he pulled out due to heart surgery, Harry’s father Prince Charles stepped in to escort her to the altar.
Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, looked visibly moved during the wedding.
With the words “I will”, 33-year-old Harry, and US former actress Meghan, 36, declared they would love, comfort, honour and protect each other.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby declared them husband and wife — sparking huge cheers from crowds watching on big screens outside.
The newlyweds later toured Windsor in an open-topped carriage, waving and smiling to the thousands of flag-waving well-wishers lining the streets.
The bride’s father Thomas Markle followed the wedding on television and voiced regret he was unable to attend, TMZ reported.
“My baby looks beautiful and she looks very happy. I wish I were there,” he told the US celebrity news website.
For the evening reception at nearby Frogmore House, attended by 200 close friends and family, Meghan changed into a sleek lily white halterneck silk crepe gown by Stella McCartney.
On her finger she wore an emerald-cut aquamarine ring formerly owned by Harry’s mother Diana, a gift from her new husband.