WINDSOR, England (Reuters) – Cheering and waving British flags for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, crowds gathered outside the ancient walls of Windsor Castle on Saturday for a royal wedding that supporters hope will help recast the 1,000-year-old monarchy for the 21st century.
Hours before the ceremony, Queen Elizabeth bestowed the title of Duke of Sussex on her grandson, a step that means the star of the TV drama “Suits” will become a duchess when she marries Harry.
Under clear skies and glorious sunshine, guests including celebrities such as U.S. media mogul Oprah Winfrey began to arrive at the world’s oldest inhabited castle, home to 39 monarchs since 1066.
Outside, a military band in scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats entertained thousands of excited fans gathered behind barriers. Security was tight with police armed with semi-automatic rifles patrolling streets and watching from rooftops.
“This is a moment when we can all celebrate the rebirth of the royal family,” said Kenny McKinlay, 60, who had come down from Scotland for the wedding. “It’s a time when all the nation can come together rather than being divided. It’s a day when you can be proud to be British.”
The couple, who met on a blind date in 2016 and fell in love in a tent under the stars in Botswana, will tie the knot at the 15th-century St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, home to 39 English monarchs since 1066.
More than 100,000 fans are expected to cram the narrow roads of Windsor, about 20 miles (30 km) west of London. Visitors had to pass through police search points set up around the castle.
Hundreds of TV crews from around the world have descended on Windsor for the union of Harry, 33, sixth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white.