Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Didn’t Listen to Final Version of Their Wedding Choir’s Arrangement After 12 Changes

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex‘s royal wedding took place on May 19, 2018, at St. George’s Chapel in front of 600 guests and was televised to millions around the world. The bride wore a Givenchy gown which was made of silk and featured a boat neckline with a 16-foot veil. The former Suits star also donned the bandeau diamond tiara, which was made in 1932 for Queen Mary. 

The ceremony appeared to go off without a hitch but for the choir, there was a bit of pre-ceremony drama as they had to rework their version of “Stand By Me” a dozen times per the couple’s wishes.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave from the West Door of St George's Chapel on their wedding day
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave from the West Door of St George’s Chapel on their wedding day | Ben STANSALL – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Conductor remembers getting call to perform at Meghan and Harry’s wedding

The conductor of the Kingdom Choir, Karen Gibson, shared where she was when got the call to perform at the Sussexes’ royal wedding.

“I was on the number 87 bus… a woman said, ‘We’d like to invite you to sing at the royal wedding,’” Gibson recalled to The Standard (per The Express). “I said, ‘You’re joking, right?’ There was a silence. I said, ‘Oh, you’re not joking at all’ — so that was a mad moment.”

While Gibson holds fond memories of actually receiving the news, she admitted that she heard from a friend who worked at Clarence House — the official residence of Prince Charles and wife Camilla Parker Bowles — that she would be getting an important phone call. However, she wasn’t told what it was about.

The Kingdom Choir conductor Karen Gibson in a pink outfit performing outside Kensington Palace
The Kingdom Choir conductor Karen Gibson | Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage

The choir had to make a dozen changes to version of ‘Stand By Me’

Gibson also spoke about getting the version of Ben E. King’s 1961 song “Stand By Me” just right for the big day. She said that her choir had to make 12 changes to their version. She explained the original version was “pure gospel” but Meghan and Harry wanted something more toned down.

“Gospel music is all about the cherries on top and it’s not about stinting on anything,” Gibson stated. “But we got word back that they wanted something a little less, so we did a second version which had an Etta James arrangement but again we had word back that it wasn’t right.”

The Kingdom Choir outside Kensington Palace for a performance
The Kingdom Choir standing outside Kensington Palace for a photocall | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

She told Hello! that the bride and groom “hadn’t had time” to hear the last arrangement which was the “most stripped back.” She added: “None of us were nervous on the day about performing but I was nervous as to whether this would be exactly what they wanted. It felt incredible on the day.”

Prior to the performance, Gibson and her choir were invited to Kensington Palace for tea and biscuits with the pair. She remembered “how very much in love they were” and how fondly they “looked at each other.”