Any bride will know that pulling a wedding together takes some serious time, and yet somehow Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have given their wedding planners just six months to get everything ready for their May date.
But have you ever wondered why their engagement is so short? Well, it’s just one of the weird and wonderful royal wedding traditions that Harry and Meghan will have to honour.
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Here is our pick of weird and wonderful royal wedding traditions that are guaranteed to surprise you.
The Queen Has To Grant Permission
The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 says members of the royal family must seek permission from the monarch in order to wed, otherwise the marriage is invalid. It’s more a formality now but Harry was still required to ask permission from his grandmother first. Her permission comes in the form of the ‘Instrument of Consent’, an elaborate document signed by the Queen.
READ MORE: Everything We Know About Harry And Meghan’s Wedding So Far
Engagements Are Always Short
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The Queen was officially engaged to Prince Philip for four months before marrying in November 1947. Prince Charles and Diana were engaged for just five months before their wedding in July 1981. And the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – back when they were William and Kate – were engaged for the same length of time.
This long-running trend for a short engagement has already been adopted by Harry and Meghan, who have just six months to plan their nuptials. For Harry, the age and health of his 96-year-old grandfather Prince Philip has also been a consideration in the short engagement. But their six months is out of line with the rest of the UK who have an average engagement of 12 months.
Catholicism Is A No-No
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The 1701 Act of Settlement prohibits royals from marrying anyone of the Catholic faith. Yes, you can literally marry anyone but a Roman Catholic.
When the Queen’s eldest grandson Peter Philips married Canadian Autumn Kelly in 2008, she had to convert to Anglicanism so that Peter could keep his place in line for the throne.
Meghan isn’t Catholic – although she did go to a Catholic high school – however the Palace have confirmed she will be baptised and confirmed into the Anglican faith before her wedding. It’s an important nod towards the royal family’s place as head of the Church and the Queen’s role as Defender Of The Faith. Kate was also confirmed before her wedding in April 2011.
There’s Two Wedding Cakes
Hey, why not? If you can’t have two cakes when you’re royal and getting married, when can you? The traditional choice is fruitcake, but Will requested a chocolate biscuit cake from McVitie’s as his second cake at his 2011 wedding.
SEE MORE: Experts Predict Harry And Meghan’s Wedding Cake
Queen Victoria’s Myrtle Bush Makes An Appearance
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Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bouquet when she married Prince Albert in 1840 from a plant given to her by Albert’s grandmother. It survived the journey from Germany and after the wedding Victoria planted it in her garden at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
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Every British royal bride since has carried a sprig from the same plant in her bouquet, including The Queen, Duchess of Cambridge and Diana, Princess of Wales. Meghan is expected to carry a sprig among her blooms too; it’s known as the “herb of love”.
The Groom Wears His Military Uniform
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Dating back to Prince Albert, it is customary for the groom to wear his military uniform to marry in. Prince William wore the red uniform of the Colonel of the Irish Guards, rather than his RAF uniform, as he had recently been appointed this honorary rank by the Queen.
Harry served in the army for ten years, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan, but is no longer a serving officer. He wore his Blues and Royals’ officer uniform to Will’s wedding and is likely to wear it to his own wedding. However, he could chose a morning suit as his wedding is less formal than William’s.
The bride always wears white and tops it off with a tiara, most likely from the Queen’s collection given as a wedding gift.
Royals Are Always Right
The right side of the church is always occupied by the royals and their guests, the only exception being if the groom is not royal. As for the guests, they have a number of rules to follow to, such as hats are obligatory for female guests – especially at a spring wedding.
READ MORE: What Wedding Dress Will Meghan Markle Wear? Our Expert Predictions
One Nugget Of Welsh Gold Makes The Wedding Bands
For her wedding band, Meghan is expected to follow in the tradition of having a ring crafted from a nugget of rare Welsh gold extracted from the Clogau St. David’s Gold Mine. The tradition was started by the Queen Mother in 1923 and has continued to this day with the Duchess of Cambridge. There’s not much left of the nugget but the Queen has since been gifted another one.
And The One Tradition They Are Breaking
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Meghan is a divorcee and previously members of the royal family have not been allowed to marry divorcees in Church. Edward VIII famously abdicated from the throne in order to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson in 1936.
In 2002, the Church of England changed legislation to allow divorced people to remarry in church at the discretion of their priest. However, even Prince Charles had a civil ceremony in Windsor Guildhall when he married fellow divorcee Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005, before a Church of England blessing service.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, confirmed that Harry and Meghan “have chosen to make their vows before God” and their church wedding – of a royal and a divorcee – will be a first for the royal family.
If this isn’t enough weird royal tradition to satisfy you, read how Harry followed family custom with his choice of ring for Meghan and his proposal.