As the guests of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle prepared themselves for the ceremony, it became very obvious that there was an extra seat placed with the groom’s side of the family. The seat in St. George’s chapel, which was placed next to Prince William, remained empty during the entire ceremony. Whereas, if you looked at Meghan’s side, all the seats were full. So the question that everyone had, was who was it meant for?
The main theory regarding the empty chair, was that it was to pay tribute to the late Princess Diana. She had played such an important role in both Princes’ lives that it made sense to the public that they would want to leave an empty seat for her. It was thought this was done in honor of her memory. Also, perhaps the wish that she could have been there to witness the nuptials of both of her sons. However, this was not the reason for the empty seat.
The reason for the empty seat had nothing to do with nostalgia, but everything to do with protocol. What you will notice if you look at a picture of the empty seat, is that Queen Elizabeth II is seated directly behind the empty chair. Royal protocol decrees that nobody can be seated in front of the Queen, and nothing can impede her view at any time. Therefore, this is the true reason that there was an empty seat next to Prince William.
How Meghan honored Diana
While there may not have been an empty seat for Princess Diana, she was honored by Meghan in numerous ways. The flowers that were used both for the bouquets, and the bridesmaids headbands were forget me nots, which were Diana’s favorite. The white roses that were also spread around St. George’s chapel were also a personal favorite of hers. The roses were planted at Windsor Palace in her honor, so it was a nice touch that they were featured during the ceremony.
A musical ode
Princess Diana’s favorite hymn was also sung during the ceremony which you could clearly see brought tears to Prince Harry’s eyes. Her favorite hymn is titled “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer.” This hymn was also sung at her funeral, and brought a special meaning to the day. You could say that having it sung at her son’s wedding in a way opened the door to a new life, rather than closing it like at her funeral.
How Kate honored Diana
On Princess Diana’s wedding day she had a small blue bow sewn into her voluminous wedding dress. Kate Middleton followed in her footsteps and had a small blue bow sewn into the inside of her own Alexander McQueen wedding gown. As well, she also had some old fashioned lace used for her gown, like Diana did as her something old. As the rhyme goes, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” I wonder if Meghan and Kate had a sixpence hidden away?
The biggest homage of all to Princess Diana was most likely the the engagement ring that Prince William proposed to Kate with. It was the ring that his father Prince Charles had given to Princess Diana when he originally proposed to her. The ring is quite well-known as it is a 12-carat sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds. It is nice to think that her memory lives on through this ring, and that it can be passed on for the next royal wedding when one of their children gets married.
From head to toe
Now, the queen sent out a 22-page etiquette guide for Kate and Wills’ wedding. One of the most important rules had to do with dressing appropriately for the event. This mainly applied to women. They must have their shoulders covered, wear closed toe shoes, and have a hemline that goes to at least the knee or a bit longer. The most important thing here, was that everyone dressed conservatively. However, you should definitely not forget your hat!
Dress for the time of day
The royal weddings were both daytime affairs which meant evening dress was not appropriate. This specifically applied more to the men than to the women. You will notice you did not see anyone wearing a tuxedo, instead the male guests not in military dress were expected to wear ‘morning dress.’ This meant that men must wear a waistcoat, morning coat, necktie, and striped dress pants if they adhered to the dress code. They could add a bit of flair by choosing a unique tie.
During Kate and Wills’ wedding in 2011 no photography was allowed, and this included cellular phones and connected social media platforms. However, while the same rule was supposed to be employed for Harry and Meghan’s wedding this year, it was not strictly followed. Many of Meghan’s actor friends were caught uploading Instagram stories of their wedding attire, or stories of themselves on the way to the ceremony. This was considered in very bad taste. No photos of the weddings themselves are supposed to be released before the official ones.
Choose your fashion wisely
If you are a foreign guest it is okay to choose a designer from your home country, however it is suggested that when picking your wedding attire you choose something from the country it is being held in. Also, you must never wear white to the wedding. Not only is it considered bad luck by some accounts, but you do not want to upstage the bride on her day. Pippa Middleton’s white maid of honor dress was something unusual, but as it was the bride’s choice it was considered appropriate.
You don’t need a plus one
While some people may feel like they need to bring a date to a wedding this is in no way mandatory. In fact, attending solo may open up the door to meeting someone at the wedding itself. It was reported that Meghan and Harry were set up on a blind date, and that is how their romance began. So going stag to a wedding is in no way a bad thing. Perhaps Harry and Meghan did some special seat planning prior to the reception to do some matchmaking themselves.
A hat for each season
Wearing a hat at the royal weddings is not mandatory but it is encouraged, and if you have ever seen a British wedding before, you know that fascinators are all the rage. However, it is possible to wear the wrong hat, so you must be aware of the seasonal rule before you go and choose one. If the wedding is before Easter, you you must wear a fabric hat. If the wedding is after Easter you must wear a straw hat. So, choose accordingly.
Now seeing the Queen is a pretty big deal, especially for what may be deemed the commoners or in the case of the royal weddings, the celebrities. While we are used to simply walking up to someone and introducing ourselves or saying hello, this is not what you do with the queen. Etiquette dictates that she must approach you, and you must never touch her unless she decides to reach out her hand to you in a handshake. You must wait to be addressed.
Gifts are not encouraged
It is customary to bring a wedding gift, or purchase something from a registry in some countries but in the case of the royal weddings it does not fall under the wedding protocol. The royal couple may have a registry, but this was Meghan’s second wedding and traditionally speaking they do not ask for gifts due to this. Some sources suggested that they asked for donations to their favorite charities in lieu of this. Nobody needs three french presses.
Traditionally there is a receiving line at a wedding where the newlywed couple and their respective families will stand in a line and receive their guests at the beginning of the reception. Now as the royal weddings tend to have a very large guest list, guests are expected to greet the royal couple quickly and move along. You are not supposed to stand there and engage them in a long winded conversation as they have upwards of 600 guests to greet.
Don’t duck out
Now you may feel like you want to leave the wedding early, perhaps you are starting to feel all of that jet lag from the jump across the pond if you are one of the foreign guests, but this is something you cannot do. Protocol once again comes into play. You are not supposed to leave before the royal couple has. This is due to the fact that they are considered the highest ranking members of the royal family in the room at that time.
You must also be aware of the appropriate titles when addressing all of the royalty around you. The queen specifically must be addressed correctly. Upon first greeting her you must refer to her as “Your Majesty.” If you have to address her again, you do not refer to her Your Majesty, but simply as “Ma’am.” While this is a much more informal address, you have already paid the appropriate respect to her by addressing her correctly the first time.
No flashy accessories
While you may be tempted to wear a comedic waistcoat, or a suit in a color other than charcoal gray or navy you are advised to steer clear of this. Women are able to make a statement with their millinery, but men are expected to fly more under the radar. Perhaps you should wear your best watch, and silk tie, but save the novelty ties or waist coats for your annual holiday party, not the royal wedding.
Don’t block the view
Up until now we have gone over some of the most important protocols that must be followed. But this one is true for any wedding. Do not wear a giant hat that will block the person behind yours’ view. You would not want it done to you, especially at an event like the royal wedding, so do not do it to someone else. The etiquette guide also clearly states that you not wear anything that impedes someone’s view, not only the queen’s!