Monday 15 July 2019

Inside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's spectacular royal wedding venue

Couple scope out set up at Queen's Christmas bash ahead of big day next year

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Singer Katherine Jenkins performs to guests at a dinner to mark the 25th anniversary of Tusk Trust at Windsor Castle on May 21, 2015 in Windsor, England. The reception and dinner took place in the presence of the Royal Patron of Tusk Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Tusk is a conservation charity which aims to address the greatest challenges faced by Africa's wildlife and people. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images for Tusk Trust)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hosts a a State Luncheon on the first day of the state visit of Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan in the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London on April 30, 2013. Sheikh Khalifa officially began a State visit to Britain with a cermonial welcome in Windsor hosted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. AFP PHOTO / POOL / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: The place settings for a State Luncheon for The President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle on April 30, 2013 in Windsor, England. The President of the United Arab Emirates is paying a two-day State Visit to the United Kingdom, staying in Windsor Castle as the guest of Her Majesty The Queen from April 30, 2013 to May 1, 2013. Sheikh Khalifa will meet the British Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow at his Downing Street residence. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles and his bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greet wellwishers following their marriage blessing at St George's Chapel in Windsor, 09 April 2005. Prince Charles and his longtime sweetheart Camilla Parker Bowles married today after two months of muddled preparations and a lifetime of waiting. (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR GRANT/AFP/Getty Images)
Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall carries her bouquet as she leaves a blessing at St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle after her civil wedding Prince Charles 09 April 2005. (Photo credit should read TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at the Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, to attend a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair on their first official engagement together
US actress Meghan Markle visits Nottingham for her first official public engagement with fiancee Prince Harry on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet well-wishers as they arrive at the Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, to attend a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair on their first official engagement together
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Guests attend a reception and dinner to mark the 25th anniversary of Tusk Trust at Windsor Castle on May 21, 2015 in Windsor, England. The reception and dinner took place in the presence of the Royal Patron of Tusk Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Tusk is a conservation charity which aims to address the greatest challenges faced by Africa's wildlife and people. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images for Tusk Trust)
Karen Birney

Karen Birney

While we'll have to wait until FA Cup Final day to see Harry and Meghan officially tie the knot (Saturday 19th May, get it in the diary), the bride and groom-to-be have been getting a bit more of an insight into how their big day will look, with a sneaky glimpse inside their wedding venue, as it would be filled with guests.

When bride-to-be and British royal-in-waiting Meghan Markle made a surprise visit to the Queen's annual Christmas party during the week, not only was she there to charm the 900 guests with her friendly manner and impressive room-working skills, but she may also have been double-jobbing by doing a little re-con on how her wedding day will look (sure how many of us are guilty of doing a bit of wedding planning during work hours?!)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Meghan Markle attends RELAIS & CHATEAUX 60th Anniversary Guest Chef Dinner Launch at Consulate General of France on October 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Relais & Chateaux)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Meghan Markle attends RELAIS & CHATEAUX 60th Anniversary Guest Chef Dinner Launch at Consulate General of France on October 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Relais & Chateaux)

The U.S actress will marry her royal beau in a ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and, according to People, the reception will be held in the same setting the Queen's Christmas bash at Windsor.

The Queen's annual staffer festivities were held in a set of rooms in the world's oldest and largest inhabited castle, including the Waterloo Chamber, St. George's Hall and the Grand Reception Room.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM: Flowers are arranged in St George's Hall in Windsor Castle 08 April, 2005, for the reception after the royal wedding on Saturday between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. EMBARGOED: Not for publication before 0001 Saturday 09 April, 2005. AFP PHOTO / Kirsty Wigglesworth / WPA Rota / PA (Photo credit should read KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM: Flowers are arranged in St George's Hall in Windsor Castle 08 April, 2005, for the reception after the royal wedding on Saturday between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. EMBARGOED: Not for publication before 0001 Saturday 09 April, 2005. AFP PHOTO / Kirsty Wigglesworth / WPA Rota / PA (Photo credit should read KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP/Getty Images)

“The Christmas party is always held there," an unnamed former staffer told PEOPLE. "They’ll hold the wedding reception there, too. It is a well-proven system and arrangement.”

Read more: Game of thrones: royal wedding date clashes with FA Cup final

The couple's ceremony will be held at the 15th century gothic St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, the same chapel Harry was christened in when he was just three months old.

The chapel can accommodate up to 800 guests (and is therefore seen as being more 'intimate' than Prince William and Kate's venue of choice Westminster Abbey, which can hold up to 2000 people), with knights, residents of Windsor Castle, and residents of the College of St George only permitted to tie the knot. The couple sought permission from the Queen to marry there.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Employees pose with a 20ft Nordmann Fir tree from Windsor Great Park in St George's Hall which has been decorated for the Christmas period on November 23, 2017 in Windsor Castle, England. The Windsor Castle State Apartments are used by members of the Royal Family for hosting and events. Queen Elizabeth II resides at Windsor Castle most weekends and over the easter period and it is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Employees pose with a 20ft Nordmann Fir tree from Windsor Great Park in St George's Hall which has been decorated for the Christmas period on November 23, 2017 in Windsor Castle, England. The Windsor Castle State Apartments are used by members of the Royal Family for hosting and events. Queen Elizabeth II resides at Windsor Castle most weekends and over the easter period and it is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Read more: 'It's quite inspirational' - Archbishop of Canterbury praises Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship

The couple's wedding reception is, according to reports, most likely to take place in the opulant, 180ft-long George's Hall, a venue which has played host to many state visits and celebrations in the past, including Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding celebrations in 2005.

The lavish hall was damaged in the Windsor Castle fire of 1992, but was returned to its former glory five years later in a multi million pound restoration project. The new roof is the largest green-oak structure built since the Middle Ages and is decorated with striking brightly coloured shields.

The resplendent space, located in the castle's upper ward, was recently decorated with a huge 20ft Nordmann Fir tree for the Christmas period, and forms part of a set of 'apartments' used by members of the family for hosting events.

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall walk up the aisle during their wedding blessing at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel in Windsor, 09 April 2005. The couple were married earlier in a civil service at Windsor's Guildhall. (Photo credit should read CHRIS YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall walk up the aisle during their wedding blessing at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel in Windsor, 09 April 2005. The couple were married earlier in a civil service at Windsor's Guildhall. (Photo credit should read CHRIS YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)

World's Oldest Castle

Twenty three miles west of London, Windsor Castle receives a million visitors each year. It has been home to 39 different monarchs, who decorated the building in their own style during their reign.

It has seen its share of royal weddings in recent years, with Prince Peter Phillips and his Canadian wife Autumn Kelly tying the knot on the grounds in 2008, and Prince Charles and his wife Camilla celebrating their wedding in 2005.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: A member of the Royal Collection staff poses besides a portrait of the Duke of Wellington in the Waterloo Chamber during a press preview for Waterloo at Windsor: 1815-2015 Exhibition at Windsor Castle on January 28, 2015 in Windsor, England. Paintings in the chamber will be on display with objects presented to George IV from the battle of Waterloo, which celebrates it's bicentennial this year. The exhibition opens at Windsor Castle from January 31, to January 13, 2016 as part of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo celebrations. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: A member of the Royal Collection staff poses besides a portrait of the Duke of Wellington in the Waterloo Chamber during a press preview for Waterloo at Windsor: 1815-2015 Exhibition at Windsor Castle on January 28, 2015 in Windsor, England. Paintings in the chamber will be on display with objects presented to George IV from the battle of Waterloo, which celebrates it's bicentennial this year. The exhibition opens at Windsor Castle from January 31, to January 13, 2016 as part of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo celebrations. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Singer Katherine Jenkins performs to guests at a dinner to mark the 25th anniversary of Tusk Trust at Windsor Castle on May 21, 2015 in Windsor, England. The reception and dinner took place in the presence of the Royal Patron of Tusk Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Tusk is a conservation charity which aims to address the greatest challenges faced by Africa's wildlife and people. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images for Tusk Trust)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hosts a a State Luncheon on the first day of the state visit of Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan in the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London on April 30, 2013. Sheikh Khalifa officially began a State visit to Britain with a cermonial welcome in Windsor hosted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. AFP PHOTO / POOL / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: The place settings for a State Luncheon for The President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle on April 30, 2013 in Windsor, England. The President of the United Arab Emirates is paying a two-day State Visit to the United Kingdom, staying in Windsor Castle as the guest of Her Majesty The Queen from April 30, 2013 to May 1, 2013. Sheikh Khalifa will meet the British Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow at his Downing Street residence. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles and his bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greet wellwishers following their marriage blessing at St George's Chapel in Windsor, 09 April 2005. Prince Charles and his longtime sweetheart Camilla Parker Bowles married today after two months of muddled preparations and a lifetime of waiting. (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR GRANT/AFP/Getty Images)
Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall carries her bouquet as she leaves a blessing at St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle after her civil wedding Prince Charles 09 April 2005. (Photo credit should read TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at the Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, to attend a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair on their first official engagement together
US actress Meghan Markle visits Nottingham for her first official public engagement with fiancee Prince Harry on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet well-wishers as they arrive at the Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, to attend a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair on their first official engagement together

Charles and Camilla's civil ceremony was originally set to take place in Windsor Castle on the 8th April 2005, however the venue was changed to Windsor's Guildhall - just outside the castle's walls - after it was discovered that a civil ceremony at the castle could only take place after it had been open to other prospective couples for three years.

The wedding was then postponed for 24 hours so the Prince could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II, who died on 2nd April.

While Prince Charles' mother, Supreme Governer of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II did not attend the ceremony, she held a reception for the couple and their guests in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle afterwards.

Read more: Meghan Markle intends to become British citizen, Palace confirms 

Harry and Meghan traditional-breaking wedding day of Saturday 19th May 2018 creates two anomalies - the first being that royal weddings usually take place on a weekday, and that the wedding day will also take place of the same day as the FA Cup Final, which Prince William normally attends as FA president.

Read more: Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will spend Christmas Day with Prince William, Kate and the kids

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