Cheers or jeers? 1 of these 8 royal wedding sites is sure to tickle your fancy

Why not dream a little?

No, you’re not Meghan Markle or Catherine Middleton,  and you can’t realistically plan to have a soiree at a site of a past royal wedding location in England.

But you can pretend. 

There have been 10 different sites for royal weddings over the past 100 years (we won’t get into the list of sites over centuries). However, two of them didn’t take place in England. Prince Edward married Wallis Simpson at Chateau de Cande in France in 1937, while Prince Micheal married Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz at Viena City Hall in Austria in 1978.

That leaves eight choices in England to conduct your dream ceremony. 

All the pros and cons of the sites are below the poll, but be sure to scroll back up to vote, once you have decided. 

Westminster Abbey
Pros:
This by far has been the most popular site for royal nuptials since 1919, with the building playing host to 10 royal weddings. The last was when the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married here in 2011. 
The floor area is 32,000 square feet and it can seat 2,000 people, so it has the space for plenty of guests. 
Cons: Ugh, the traffic! If you don’t like a lot of commotion, this isn’t the place for you. It’s in the heart of one of the world’s biggest cities, London. 

St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Pros:
Prince Harry and Markle have chosen this as the site of their wedding, as did Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, who will wed here in October. Prince Edward married Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones here in 1999. It features Gothic-style architecture with a series of steps that make for grand entrances and exits. St George’s is also located more in the country with lush acreage prevalent throughout the area.
Cons: The venue is small with it being able to seat only 800 guests. Would you prefer a more quaint list of only 800?

St Paul’s Cathedral
Pros
: Home to the wedding of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana in 1981, the facility has been kept up nicely over the years because it is a popular tourist destination. It can hold 3,500 people, which is 1,500 more than Westminster Abbey.
Cons: You’ll need a massive guest list and budget for this big space. 

York Minster
Pros:
Prince Edward married Katharine Worsley here in 1961. It is the second-largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, featuring a length of 525 feet and a height equivalent to an eight-story building. York Minster is illuminated in color, is filled with medieval stained-glass windows and often hosts plays.
Cons: You’ll have to dig deep into your pockets to pay for everyone’s gas since it is almost 200 miles north of London.

St James’s Palace
Pros:
The place where Prince Henry married Alice Montague-Douglas-Scott in 1935, there are two chapels to choose from: the Queen’s Chapel and the Chapel Royal. The palace also could easily house wedding guests with its complex of buildings, apartments and rooms to stay in.
Cons: It’s not the trendiest place given it hasn’t hosted a royal wedding in 83 years. 

Crathie Kirk
Pros:
The site of Princess Anne’s wedding to Capt. Timothy James Hamilton Laurence in 1992, this Scottish church is a dream venue if you want traditional, quaint and quiet. Being in Scotland, this place is nearby some of the most famous golf courses in the world, a great leisure activity for guests in the days leading up to the wedding. 
Cons: The size of this church makes St George’s Chapel massive in comparison. It doesn’t look like it could fit 80 guests. 

Windsor Guildhall
Pros:
 Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles here in 2005 and Sir Elton John had his civil partnership ceremony with partner David Furnish here as well. The building also has a museum for guests to view and would make for a posh reception since it often has banquets hosted by local politicians and the royal family.
Cons: It’s hard to imagine that a lot of people dream about holding their weddings in buildings that aren’t true churches.

St. Andrew’s Church
Pros:
 The host of Prince Richard’s vows to Birgitte van Deurs in 1972 is an intimate and traditional setting that tailors to the desires of those who want more low-scale ceremonies. Located two hours south of London, it is also close to the English Channel, which should create possibilities for pictures. 
Cons: The last royal wedding it hosted was almost 50 years ago, and some of the pictures indicate the church hasn’t been updated all that much since. 
 

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What will happen to Meghan Markle’s bouquet after wedding?

I think it’s fair to say most brides like to hold onto their wedding bouquet, or at least part of it, after the big day is over, but in the British royal family, there’s another protocol.

After the wedding between Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth, and the Duke of York, who was later known as King George VI, the wedding bouquet was left at the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.

Lady Elizabeth, whom we all came to know in 1952 as Queen Mother, left the bouquet in memory of her brother, Fergus, a young officer who was killed on the Western Front in 1915, during World War I.

What is the grave of the Unknown Warrior?

So, it all started when a man, the Rev. David Railton, who was serving as a chaplain during the war, noticed a grave in a garden in Armentieres. This was 1916, for reference. But sitting in the garden was a handmade cross with the words “An unknown British soldier” penciled in. The then-dean of Westminster, Herbert Ryle, got a letter from Railton four years later, suggesting those killed in the war — and whose bodies were never found — should be remembered.

Great idea, right? The dean must have thought so, too, because that same year, the bodies of four unknown British servicemen were exhumed from four different battlegrounds before being taken to a chapel at St. Pol on Nov. 7, 1920. The general officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier Gen. L.J. Wyatt, and Col. Gell, went into the chapel alone and hand-picked one of those officers before placing him in a plain coffin and sealing it. The other bodies were reburied.

[MORE: Find all things royal HERE  |  How to throw the ultimate royal wedding watch-party  |  What was on menu at previous royal weddings?  |  Quiz: Meghan Markle and her majesty — are they really that different?]

The soldier’s coffin was taken by train to Victoria Station in London, where, on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses, it began its journey down crowd-lined streets to the Nave at Westminster Abbey.

The body was buried on Nov. 11, 1920, with — get this — soil from France that King George V himself was sprinkling over the coffin as it was being lowered into the ground. Then, the grave was filled with 100 sandbags of earth from WWI battlefields.

A year later, the grave was covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur, with an inscription Ryle had composed.

In the week after being laid to rest, it is said that more than 1.2 million people visited that unknown warrior’s grave. Did you know that today it is still one of the most visited grave sites in the world?

Since Lady Elizabeth put her wedding bouquet on the grave in 1923 as a mark of respect, so have all royal brides married in the Abbey since, including, most recently, the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine “Kate” Middleton.

Although Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to marry at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor, it is expected that Markle will send her bouquet to the grave of the Unknown Warrior, just as Sophie Rhys-Jones, who married Prince Edward at St. George’s Chapel in 1999, did.

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Kate and William can afford 3 kids, but many Brits can’t

For the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, having three kids won’t break the bank. For many other Millennial Brits, a family of that size just isn’t an option.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to the couple’s third child, a son, on Monday.

Raising one child in the United Kingdom to the age of 21 costs about £232,000 ($323,000), according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). In London, that rises to £254,000 ($354,000).

That means a London-based family with three children is looking at a total cost of more than $1 million, and that doesn’t include private schools or university fees, which together can easily add another $200,000 per child.

To put this in perspective, the median UK income for a working household is just £29,300 ($40,100) per year, after income tax deductions, according to the UK Office for National Statistics.

Earning power isn’t a problem for Kate and Prince William. They receive millions from Prince Charles to cover the cost of their official duties, own a country mansion, and enjoy a London residence — Kensington Palace — rent free.

The average Londoner, by contrast, will have to pay £472,000 ($658,000) to buy a home.

Little wonder then that British women are having far fewer children than past generations.

Here are a few reasons why:

Higher costs are putting couples off

National statistics show the average British woman has just 1.8 children each. In the 1960s, during the so-called Baby Boom, it was close to three children each.

Rising female education has been associated with lower birth rates. But cold, hard financial considerations seem to have played into many couples’ decisions too.

CEBR research from 2014 found that 21% of parents said they were delaying having another child due to the rising cost of raising a family.

Pay squeeze and expensive housing

Millennial parents — those born in the 1980s and 1990s — are facing particular challenges, including slower wage growth, which could influence their decisions on having children.

Research from the Resolution Foundation shows previous British generations earned significantly more than their predecessors after calculating for inflation. But this trend doesn’t hold for Millennials, who are earning less than Generation X — those born between 1966 and 1980 — and have seen their wages squeezed following the Great Recession.

“This stalling of generational pay progress is unprecedented,” Resolution Foundation researchers said in a recent report.

The rising cost of housing is adding to the pressure.

“Millennials today are spending more of their income on housing than previous generations did at the same age, but critically get less for their money when it comes to security and quality of life,” the report noted.

Less state support for large families

Recent changes in government policy also seem to be discouraging people from having three or more children, according to Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Since 2017, government credits to poorer families with three or more children have been trimmed.

“This rule can be interpreted as saying that society disapproves of you having more than two children if you are poor,” said Hirsch.

People may think the cost of raising a second or third child is cheaper than the first, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“There are some economies of scale, but there are lots of extra costs with having a third child,” said Hirsch. “You may have to buy a new car … You may need a larger home.”

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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle announce wedding photographer

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen renowned fashion and portrait photographer Alexi Lubomirski to take their official wedding photographs, Kensington Palace announced Friday.

The couple is already familiar with the Lubomirski, who photographed Harry and Meghan at Frogmore House, Windsor, in the weeks after they announced their engagement.

He will photograph the newlyweds at Windsor Castle after the ceremony in St George’s Chapel on May 19.

“I could not be more thrilled or honored to photograph this historic occasion,” said Lubomirski in a statement. “Having taken Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s engagement photos, it brings me such joy to be able to witness again, the next chapter in this wonderful love story.”

Lubomirski was born in England and moved to Botswana at the age of eight with his mother and stepfather, according to Kensington Palace. He traveled in Peru as a young man and studied in England, and now lives in New York with his wife and two sons, the statement says.

According to his website, Lubomirski studied under Mario Testino, a Peruvian photographer who took the official engagement photographs of Prince William and fiancee Kate Middleton in 2010, and has since become a recognized name in the fashion industry.

He has also published two photography books, donating the proceeds to Concern Worldwide, a charity he supports as an Ambassador, the Palace said.

The announcement comes just five weeks before the wedding. A number of details about the day have now been released, including the route of the newlyweds’ carriage procession and the wedding cake, which will be made by pastry chef Claire Ptak.

Members of the public who wish to buy the couple a gift have been asked to donate instead to one of seven charities selected by the couple.

But many details remain under wraps, including news about Markle’s wedding dress and the names of those who will attend the ceremony and the lunchtime and evening receptions.

Kensington Palace revealed earlier this week that the couple is not inviting any world leaders or political figures in their official capacities, although some may attend as personal friends of the couple.

U.S. President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have not received invitations. Barack and Michelle Obama, who are close friends of the couple, will also not be attending, a royal source told CNN, although the source would not say whether they had been invited.

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Queen jokes on TV: ‘It sounds like President Trump’

Queen Elizabeth II normally leaves the jokes to her husband. Now in her 90s, Britain’s monarch seems to be getting in on the act with a gag about Donald Trump.

While strolling through Buckingham Palace Garden with naturalist David Attenborough for a TV documentary, the tranquility is shattered by the sound of a helicopter flying above, giving the Queen an opportunity to show off her sense of humor.

“Why do they always go round and round when you want to talk?” she asks. “It sounds like President Trump!”

The pair were filming for an ITV program to be aired on April 16, celebrating a Commonwealth environmental project where the Queen discusses a variety of topics including climate change, Donald Trump and even her own passing.

The documentary shares a moment where the two chuckle over an ailing tree and the monarch goes on to say that it had been “sat on” at a garden party.

In another instance, Attenborough points out that a sundial was incorrectly positioned in the shade, the Queen laughs and says, “Had we thought of that? That it was planted in the shade, it wasn’t in the shade originally, I’m sure?”

She adds, “Maybe we could move it?”

The Queen is known for her deadpan sense of humor, which is rarely seen in public.

In 2016, Barack and Michelle Obama posted a video online challenging Prince Harry to the Invictus Games, setting social media alight.

In response, the Prince imitates a mic drop and after watching the video, the Queen shrugs and then looks at Harry and says, “Boom, really? Please.”

The Queen’s husband Prince Philip, unintentionally lived up to his reputation as “the prince of gaffes,” when in 2015 while accompanying the Queen to an official opening of a community center in east London he asked the female workers, “who do you sponge off?”

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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle wedding: 9 ways to celebrate in style

If you haven’t received an invitation by now, the chances are there won’t be a seat for you at St. George’s Chapel at Britain’s Windsor Castle on May 19.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding is one of 2018’s most highly-anticipated international events, but fortunately, opportunities abound in the UK — and further afield — to get into the royal wedding mood.

From getting up close-ish on their brief processional route to having your own royal getaway, here are some options to allow you to say you were there — at least in spirit.

1. Palace and castle hopping around the UK

The Stafford London couldn’t be more appropriately located, just steps from St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace.

In business since 1912, the elegant spot is a hidden gem with historical royal connections of its own and is still regularly frequented by members of the royal family.

Their five-night package includes an exclusive dinner at Kensington Palace, home to the young royals, a private visit to a stately home hosted by an Earl and dinner at the Tower of London.

On the big day, in conjunction with In Any Event tours, they can even secure a vantage point in Windsor from where you can see guests enter St. George’s Chapel.

You’ll also catch some of the wedding procession as the newlyweds travel through the town in a carriage, greeting the expected tens of thousands of well-wishers.

Handily you’ll be served canapés, cocktails and a three-course lunch while viewing the ceremony.

What’s more, they can even arrange an exclusive visit to the chapel, albeit after the wedding.

It doesn’t get much closer than that.

The Stafford London, 16-18 St. James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ; +44 207 493 0111. The five-night package is $15,490 per person

2. A regal weekend retreat in the Cotswolds

A retreat fit for aspiring royalty is promised at the 90-acre Ellenborough Park in England’s picturesque Cotswolds.

Pseudo-sovereigns arrive at the 15th-century manor house in an elegant Rolls-Royce before checking into the Arkle Suite, which has a four-poster bed.

The two-night package includes experiences such as clay pigeon shooting, falconry and a trip to Sudeley, England’s only private castle where a queen is buried in the grounds, namely Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife.

On a slightly more upbeat note, you can also wander through the countryside to nearby Highgrove Gardens. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the home of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Prices for the royal package start from $2,778 per person, which includes return transfers from Heathrow Airport in a Rolls-Royce.

Ellenborough Park, Southam Road, Cheltenham GL52 3NJ; +441242 545454

3. ‘Live like a Royal’ in Edinburgh, Scotland

It may be around 650 kilometers from Windsor, but Edinburgh has no shortage of royal splendor of its own, and an offer from the city’s Dunstane Houses allows you to take in all the highlights with their “Live like a Royal” jaunt.

Things kick off with a royal Champagne afternoon tea, full of the Queen’s favorites, which seemingly include egg mayo and cucumber finger sandwiches.

A full day tour then takes in royal sights in and around Edinburgh, accompanied by the hotel’s resident royal guide.

Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, which is home to a number of the crown jewels known as “The honors of Scotland” and even the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s former floating royal residence, are all on the agenda.

Finish off with a whiskey tasting and toast to Prince Harry and Markle at the Ba’ Bar.

The “Live like a Royal” package starts from $656 per night, including the aforementioned activities on a bed & breakfast basis.

The Dunstane Houses, 4 West Coates, Edinburgh EH12 5JQ; +44 (0131) 337 6169

4. A royal romance experience in Palm Beach, Florida

The Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida is a long way away from Windsor, but that hasn’t stopped the luxury resort from getting in on the act.

Its royal romance experience, “Royal Romance Suits You,” is inspired by the couple and some of their favorite things.

You get more than a few extras for your four-night package price of $24,000 per room including accommodation in the Brando suite, an introductory helicopter lesson, and a bottle of Tignanello, a renowned Chianti said to be loved by Markle.

Then there’s a half day coastal excursion with Royal Yacht Charters, a bespoke necklace modeled after Markle’s ring and dinner with wine pairings at Café Boulud, including rotisserie chicken — in honor of the meal Prince Harry cooked for Markle the night he proposed.

Five percent of the package price is donated to a local humane society or one of the royal couple’s favorite philanthropic organizations, such as World Vision.

The Brazilian Court Hotel, 301 Australian Avenue, Palm Beach, FL 33480; +1 (561) 655 7740

5. A majestic shopping and sightseeing package in the UK

London’s aptly-named Hotel Café Royal is laying on an offer for those keen on some royal retail therapy.

The “Empire Royal Wedding package” includes an overnight stay in their largest one-bedroom suite, a helicopter tour of London and VIP guided visits by limousine to Windsor Castle’s Chapel and State Apartments, where Prince Harry and Markle are expected to stay around the time of their big day.

You also get tickets to the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, where the couple made their first public appearance.

Back in London, VIP shopping experiences are on the cards, focusing on retailers which hold prestigious royal warrants.

They include Garrards for jewelry, cheese makers Paxton and Whitfield, perfumer Floris and chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker.

Then to help recover from all that retail therapy, there’s afternoon tea in the hotel’s Oscar Wilde Lounge.

The “Empire Royal Wedding” package is priced from $9,027 per night.

Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London, W1B 4DY; +44 207 406 333

6. Retracing the steps of royal couple’s past and present in London

There are also options for those on decidedly slimmer budgets.

City sightseeing card the London Pass allows you entry to more than 80 tourist attractions, including many with royal connections.

That includes Kensington Palace, home to Nottingham Cottage where Prince Harry and Markle will start their married life.

You can even pose for your own selfies or snaps in the sunken garden where they made their first public appearance after getting engaged.

Kensington Palace is also the current home of Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and their children, as well as the former home of Prince Charles and Princess Diana following their marriage in 1981.

Pass holders can also walk down the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral, following in the footsteps of Charles and Diana, while Westminster Abbey has been the site of coronations for the British royal family since the 11th century.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site was also where the then Princess Elizabeth married the newly-created Duke of Edinburgh, on November 20, 1947.

A one-day London Pass costs around $95 per adult and $62 per child (public transport costs are included in the price).

7. An imperial wedding celebration at Chewton Glen, England

Located on the fringe of the New Forest National Park in Southern England, Chewton Glen, a five-star luxury country house hotel, is offering a weekend stay with your own butler, spa treatments and an English garden party as you watch the day’s festivities.

You’ll get the red carpet treatment with champagne, canapés and lunch as you watch Prince Harry and Markle say “I do.” (Actually, in the UK, they’re more likely to say “I will.”)

In true English fashion — at least if you believe the movies — you can then enjoy a spot of croquet on the impeccable lawns.

Dinner is a lavish seven-course feast with plenty more chances to toast the happy couple.

The weekend break is $1,470 per person for two nights based on two sharing.

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, Christchurch Road New Forest BH25 6QS; +44 1425 275341

8. ‘Own a Palace for a Day’ in the Sintra Mountains, Portugal

If you really want to go all out on May 19, few options are as extravagant as owning your own palace — for the day.

Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, in western Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, has 30 exquisitely decorated bedrooms, allowing you to make yourself very popular with your friends.

You get the outdoor swimming pool with sea views all to yourself, extravagant ballrooms with paintings and tapestries that you can turn into viewing locations, while they even throw in breakfast.

Talking of dining, the restaurant has an outside terrace overlooking the gardens and mazes with the scent of roses in the air.

Destinations don’t get much more romantic — and chances are the weather will be warmer than Windsor.

The “Own a Palace for a Day” programme is available from £25,200 ($35,240) a day.

Tivoli Palácio De Seteais Sintra Hotel, Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 8 2710-517 Sintra, Portugal; +351 38 795 277

9. Drink like a royal at The Drake Hotel in Chicago

Finally to Chicago, where The Drake, a Hilton Hotel is offering a number of ways to mark the nuptials.

In the weeks running up to the wedding, they’ll be showing a number of royal-themed movies, including “The Queen” and “Victoria and Abdul” in the Palm Court tea room as part of a film and fondue experience.

Their special royal cocktail menu will allow you to booze like a royal, with a selection including Dubonnet and gin, the Queen’s drink of choice, and a pint of an English bitter called Boddingtons that Prince Philip is seemingly partial to.

A special royal afternoon tea is also on offer in May, while the hotel’s Grand Ballroom hosts a royal luncheon on the big day — albeit with the wedding pre-recorded, given the time difference.

Prince Harry’s mother Diana visited The Drake back in 1996 and the 2018 menu will feature some of the dishes she was served.

Ten percent of all royal meals and beverages will go to charities that Prince Harry supports including Help for Heroes and Walking with the Wounded.

The Royal Luncheon on May 19 is $100 per person for VIP priority seating and $80 for general assigned seating.

The Drake, a Hilton Hotel, 140 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611; +1 (312) 787 2200

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