Monday 16 September 2019

After a ceremony as grand as that, what were the afters like?

It was an evening of Stella McCartney frocks, champagne, elderflower cake and songs by Elton John, says Joe Sharda

GOLDEN COUPLE: Meghan and Harry leaving for the evening reception at Frogmore House. Picture: Reuters
GOLDEN COUPLE: Meghan and Harry leaving for the evening reception at Frogmore House. Picture: Reuters

Joe Sharda

Britain's Prince Harry and bride Meghan Markle, otherwise known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, last night spent their first night as a married couple in Windsor Castle.

An exclusive evening reception for 200 guests at the royal Frogmore House country estate made it a late night before they could retire to the vast castle grounds.

The newlyweds are expected to return to their home in Kensington Palace in London later today. They are not immediately embarking on a honeymoon and have their first royal engagement as wife and husband scheduled at Buckingham Palace Tuesday.

A honeymoon is expected to happen soon, though. Harry is partial to traveling in Africa, so it's possible their destination may be somewhere there. After only two dates in 2016, they went camping together in Botswana.

Earlier in the day, they left the chapel in Windsor Castle and took a short trip through Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage to their wedding reception, hosted by Queen Elizabeth. Prince William, his brother's best man, was the master of ceremonies. Harry and his father, Prince Charles, gave the speeches.

The 600 guests at Windsor Castle ate canapés including Scottish langoustine, grilled English asparagus and croquette of confit Windsor lamb.

There was no sit-down meal at the lunchtime reception, but guests were offered bowls of chicken fricassee with morel mushrooms, pea and mint risotto and slow-roasted pork belly.

Place of honour went to the wedding cake by California-raised London master baker Claire Ptak.

The layered lemon and elderflower cake featured such refined ingredients as 200 Amalfi lemons and 10 bottles of elderflower cordial from Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham estate.

The cake was decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 fresh flowers, mainly British and in season, including peonies and roses.

Sir Elton John performed at the reception. The singer had been asked by the bridegroom to perform, according to Kensington Palace, which said in a statement: "Sir Elton performed for the newly married couple in recognition of the close connection he has with Prince Harry and his family. "

The singer was earlier in attendance at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel with his husband David Furnish to watch the royal bridegroom wed his American love.

He was spotted in the chapel ahead of the service chatting with fellow celebrities including David and Victoria Beckham.

The Palace gave no further details of the performance and did not disclose which songs the musician - who was made a knight by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 - chose for the occasion.

Elton has a close relationship with Harry and his brother and was friends with their mother, Diana. In 1997, he famously sang a re-worked version of his hit Candle In The Wind at Diana's funeral, changing the words to "goodbye England's rose".

In a TV interview in June, 2008, he told how singing at the funeral was a surreal experience.

He said: "What was going through my mind was, 'Don't f*** this up. Don't sing a wrong note. Don't sing the wrong note. Be stoic. Don't break down and just do it to the best you can possibly do it without showing any emotion whatsoever'."

The singer was also present at William's wedding to the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

At around 7pm Harry and Meghan made a dramatic departure for their evening reception, making the short drive from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House in a classic Jaguar E-Type convertible with the top down.

Markle, newly named by the queen as the Duchess of Sussex, wore a white gown with a high neck and bare shoulders designed by Stella McCartney for the reception, which was hosted by Prince Charles. Harry wore a tuxedo.

Both had big smiles as Harry opened the car door for his bride.

The silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero was originally manufactured in 1968 and now runs on electricity.

Only 200 guests were invited to this reception.

Guests invited to Frogmore House, a royal estate in Windsor Home Park, were given a few hours after the lunch to rest and change outfits.

Meghan had planned to make a speech at the evening event.

The streets of Windsor remain thronged with members of the public celebrating the royal wedding.

In case they missed anything during the day, they can take joy in the fact that the entire ceremony has been made available on streaming services for the first time ever. And Decca Records has released the entire service from St George's Chapel - including the music, readings, and vows - with a physical release on CD out next week.

The recording will also be made on vinyl and includes a performance from cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, as well as the address from American bishop Rev Michael Curry.

Kanneh-Mason performed Sicilienne by von Paradis, Schubert's Ave Maria, and Apres Un Reve by Faure.

© Press Association

Sunday Independent

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