15 Ways Meghan’s Wedding Will Be Different Than Diana’s

The American bride-to-be is upending plenty of British traditions.

15 Ways Meghan’s Wedding Will Be Different Than Diana’s

The American bride-to-be is upending plenty of British traditions.

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While Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry later this month has been called the “Wedding of the Year,” it was Lady Diana Spencer’s nuptials to Prince Charles that was crowned “Wedding of the Century.”

It’s impossible to deny that Diana’s rebellion against long held royal traditions—and her shattering death—paved the way for her sons to marry women who didn’t fit the mold. Here is a look at the 15 ways Meghan’s wedding will be different than Diana’s. And for more on how this year’s royal wedding stacks up, check out the 15 Ways Meghan’s Wedding Will Be Different from Kate’s.

Princess Diana and Charles Wedding Royal Marriages wedding differences

1
The bride is not naïve.

Meghan is a 36 year-old divorced, biracial American actress. Diana had barely entered womanhood when she walked down the aisle as a 20 year-old virgin from the British aristocracy when she married Prince Charles.

And to find some common ground between these two weddings, see How Diana’s Family Will Take Part in Harry’s Wedding.

prince harry and meghan markle wedding differences

2
 The groom has no reservations.

Prince Harry is madly in love with Meghan and has said he knew she was “the one” the first time he met her. Charles reportedly cried the night before his wedding over his conflicted feelings for Diana and his longtime love for Camilla Parker-Bowles. For more on this month’s wedding, be sure to check out What Guests Have to Wear to Harry and Meghan’s Wedding.

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3
Meghan will wear two dresses

It has been reported that Meghan will wear two dresses on her wedding day: One for the ceremony and another for the formal dinner in the evening. Ralph & Russo, Erdem and Christopher Bailey are said to be top contenders for the fashion coup of the year. Insiders have told me the dress for the ceremony will be an ivory silk dress and a structured, elaborately beaded design (which make me think Ralph & Russo, who designed the $75,000 elaborate gown Meghan wore for her official engagement portrait, are the front-runners).

Meghan is said to be considering something “sexier” for the dinner later that night. Diana famously wore a frothy confection of ruffles and bows by Elizabeth and David Emanuel with a 25-foot train which was very much in keeping with the wedding’s 1980s, over-to-top aesthetic. Years later, Diana confided to friends that she thought the dress had overwhelmed her.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles Royal Marriages wedding differences

4
 Diana wore her own tiara

When Diana married Charles she memorably wore the Spencer family tiara, which is currently owned by Harry’s uncle, Charles, Earl Spencer.

There has been a lot speculation as to what Meghan will wear as her crowning glory. Perhaps she could borrow the same tiara Diana wore in tribute to the late princess. Or,  Queen Elizabeth could offer Meghan a tiara from her collection as she did with Kate Middleton, who chose the understated Halo tiara from Cartier. There are also reports that Meghan could wear a custom headpiece designed from diamonds that belonged to Diana. Whichever she chooses is sure to dazzle fashion-obsessed royal watchers.

Harry and Philip wedding differences

5
 Meghan’s family won’t meet the royals until days before the wedding.  

Last week it was announced that Meghan’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, will arrive in the UK a week before the wedding and will then meet their daughter’s soon to be in-laws for the first time. Harry has never even met Thomas and has spent a little time with Doria, most notably at last year’s Invictus Games in Toronto.

Diana’s family was close with royals long before she married into the family. Queen Elizabeth II is Charles’, Earl Spencer’s godmother. Diana’s sister Lady Sarah Spencer, dated Charles before she did, and her other sister, Lady Jane Fellowes, is married to Robert Fellowes, who was then Her Majesty’s private secretary. The Queen Mother and Diana’s grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, were the closest of friends. And for more on royal matrimony, don’t miss these 30 Fascinating Facts about Royal Weddings.

Harry and Meghan royal wedding wedding differences

6
 Meghan’s siblings aren’t invited.

Prince Harry’s fiancée appears to have a non-existent relationship with her half-siblings, Samantha Grant and Thomas Markle Jr., who share a father with the bride to be. Both Samantha and Thomas have consistently bashed their half-sister since the engagement, culminating in Thomas penning an open letter to Harry published by InTouch last week warning the prince not to marry Meghan. No other family besides Meghan’s father and mother will be at the wedding.

Of course, Diana’s family turned out in full force for her wedding and encouraged the union.

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7
 Meghan’s mother will play a “significant role” in wedding 

It’s been confirmed that Meghan will arrive at St. George’s Chapel by car accompanied by her mother, Doria Ragland, on her wedding day. This is highly unusual for a royal bride, but Meghan is much closer to her mother and has not seen her father in some time.

The palace announced that both of Meghan’s parents will have a “significant role” on the big day. Diana’s father, Earl Spencer, was at his daughter’s side as they drove through the streets of London in a glass coach on their way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Despite having suffered a stroke months earlier, he walked his daughter down the aisle.  Diana had a somewhat complicated relationship with her mother, Mrs. Frances Shand-Kydd, who was already seated in the church by the time her daughter and ex-husband arrived.

prince harry and meghan markle wedding differences

8
 Meghan and Harry broke with tradition with their date 

Royals historically wed on a weekday. Diana and Charles got married on a Wednesday. Prince William and Kate Middleton married on a Friday. Meghan and Harry chose to go with the American tradition and will be married on a Saturday—on the same day as the F.A. Cup Final, a big day for football fans in the UK, which is sure to incite plenty of arguments over television remotes all over Britain.

prince harry is the coolest royal wedding differences

9
 This isn’t a state occasion 

When Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, it was an official holiday attended by various politicians and dignitaries from around the world, including then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Meghan and Harry have left politicians off the guest list, including the groom’s friends former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama (reportedly so as to not incite the wrath of current politicos whose politics don’t align with the royal lovebirds’ views). Prime Minster Theresa May will have to watch on television like the rest of us.

Windsor Castle Wedding Differences

10
 The country location

Meghan and Harry have chosen St. George’s Chapel at Windsor which is an hour outside of London and on the leafy grounds of Windsor Castle. The historic church is described as intimate (even though it can hold up 800 people).

Diana and Charles got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London in front of a congregation of 3,500 people.

Choir performing royal wedding differences wedding differences

11
 They’ll be singing a different tune 

Meghan and Harry have personally asked 19 year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician Award, and Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir, a gospel choir to perform at their wedding ceremony. Opera Legend Kiri Te Kanawa sung Handel when Diana married Charles.

victoria and Albert were the first to have figurines on their wedding cake wedding differences

12
This takes the cake

At Diana and Charles’ reception at Buckingham Palace, there were 27 wedding cakes—all using the traditional vanilla frosted fruitcake recipe. Meghan and Harry will be serving a lemon elderflower wedding cake made by American baker Claire Ptak, owner of Violet bakery in London.

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13
 Meghan’s wedding will break the Internet 

Diana lived—and was married—long before the age of social media. In the 1980s, stateside royal watchers who wanted to see the wedding had to set their alarms for the pre-dawn hours or pop in a cassette tape and crank up their VCR. Upwards of 750 million people around the globe tuned in.

Every minute of Meghan and Harry’s engagement has dominated social media and will, no doubt be the top trending story across all media platforms on the big day. Billions of people all over the world are expected to be watching. And if you can’t get enough of all things royal, don’t miss these 15 Craziest Wedding Souvenirs for Harry and Meghan Obsessives. 

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14
 Meghan’s had plenty of help 

Since moving to London from Canada in December, Meghan has received plenty of support from the palace and had her own press officer and staff assigned to her shortly after the engagement. Harry has been vigilant about making sure his fiancée’s transition to royal life is as smooth as possible.

Diana said many times that she received no help from her husband or the royal family in adjusting to her new life as Princess of Wales. She spent the night before her wedding at Clarence House binge-eating while the Queen Mother and Diana’s grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, watched television in the room next door. “I was thrown into the deep end,” she said. “It was sink or swim—and I swam.”

namibia country names wedding differences

15
The honeymoon will have to wait

Right after the wedding, Diana and Charles left for their honeymoon with a large entourage of staff. The couple first went to Broadlands, then on to Gibralter, and from there on a Mediterranean cruise finally ending up in Scotland, joining the royal family at Balmoral Castle.

It has just been announced that Meghan and Harry, who have been living together since December at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace, will defer their honeymoon for one week so that they may carry out their first official engagement as a married couple. They will then depart for  Namibia with only a few bodyguards in tow.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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