For a country that decided we didn’t want a monarchy back in 1776, there are certainly many people who get excited about royal weddings in the UK, such as the upcoming nuptials between His Royal Highness Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle. If you’re one of those people who will get up at 4 a.m. on May 19 to watch, here are a few things you should know.
The wedding will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, or as it is officially known, The Queen’s Free Chapel of the College of St. George, Windsor Castle. It was established in the 14th Century during the reign of King Edward III. It is not as large as other royal wedding venues such as Westminster Abbey. As such, the guest list will be limited to approximately 800 people.
The service will be conducted by the Rt. Rev. David Conner, Dean of Windsor, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, will perform the marriage ceremony. Our own Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry was invited by the Royal Family to deliver the sermon.
St. George’s Chapel is a “Royal Peculiar,” which means, as a church/parish in the Church of England, it’s exempt from the jurisdiction of a diocese or archdiocese and is subject to the direct jurisdiction of Her Majesty The Queen. It also serves as the Chapel for the Order of the Garter, regarded as the most prestigious order of English chivalry. Pay close attention to the television coverage in case it shows the ceiling and walls of the chapel, and you’ll be able to see the banners and markers of past and current Knights of the Garter.
Many royal burials have taken place at St. George’s Chapel, including King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, King George III (yes, that King George from the American Revolution), George III’s son, Prince Edward who was the father of Queen Victoria, King George V and King George VI, the current Queen’s grandfather and father, along with the Queen’s mother and sister.
It is widely anticipated that the Queen will bestow a title–my guess is Duke of Sussex–to Prince Harry on or before the wedding day, as is custom for children and grandchildren of the Monarch. He will continue to use the style “His Royal Highness” and will be referred to by his new title, i.e. The Duke of Sussex. Ms. Markle, however, won’t become Princess Meghan. She will most likely be granted the style “Her Royal Highness” and once married, she will be Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, if my guess on the title is correct.
As is the case with every wedding, we can expect music to be a very important part of the service. The Choir of St. George’s Chapel has been in existence since 1348 and has sung at services in the chapel since, with the exception of Cromwell’s Commonwealth from 1649 to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The choir consists of up to 23 boy choristers and 12 professional Lay Clerks who sing countertenor, tenor and bass. The choristers are educated at St. George’s School, Windsor Castle, and the Lay Clerks live in Horseshoe Cloister and on Denton’s Commons. They perform at regular services throughout the week and on special occasions for the Royal Family, including this wedding.
Six of the 12 Lay Clerks from the choir comprise a musical group known as The Queen’s Six. Founded in 2008, the 450th anniversary of the accession of the first Queen Elizabeth, they perform all over the world, that is, when they can get away from Windsor Castle, and they are coming to St. Margaret’s in 2019, as part of the Desert Friends of Music Concert Season. This will be your opportunity to hear the some of the singers from the royal wedding in person. It is definitely an event you don’t want to miss, so mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 20, 2019, at 7 p.m.
For more information about the concert or Desert Friends of Music, please contact John Wright or visit www.dfom.org.