When Kate Middleton agreed to marry future king Prince William, everything from her engagement to her wedding ceremony followed all the expected royal traditions. As Meghan Markle prepares to wed Prince Harry in the spring of 2018, it’s hard not to notice the vast differences between these two magnificent events.
Here’s how their experiences compare.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry dated for just over a year before he proposed in November 2017. Kate Middleton and Prince William, in contrast, dated for about eight years and were good friends before their engagement in late 2010.
Next: Their engagements happened in very different settings.
The engagement setting
Prince William proposed to now-duchess Kate Middleton in Kenya while the two stayed there in 2010. Sources speculate Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle at or near Nottingham Cottage, where the two will live together
Next: Have you heard their proposal stories? They’re both so romantic, but drastically different.
Prince William told sources he wanted his proposal to Kate to feel comfortable. The two had been dating for eight years before he finally felt it was the right time.
Harry and Meghan were at home alone enjoying a quiet evening together when the prince proposed. She said in an interview she could barely let him finish asking before eagerly saying yes.
Next: What did these royal brides wear for their engagement photos — and what does that say about their styles?
Engagement photo attire
Kate wore a royal blue wrap dress with heels, which matched her engagement ring. Meghan wore a green dress beneath a white wrap coat to keep her warm in the chilly late November weather. This showed off her more modern style preferences, compared to Kate’s more traditional and conservative choices.
Next: Both engagement rings are stunning — but they’re nothing alike.
Kate Middleton wears a ring featuring a sapphire stone surrounded by diamonds, while Meghan Markle now wears a ring with one center stone with a smaller stone on either side.
Kate’s engagement ring once belonged to Princes William and Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. The two small stones set in Meghan’s ring also belonged to Diana, but were part of her personal jewelry collection.
Next: Meghan faces heavier criticism than Kate, who hails from Britain.
Meghan Markle has faced much more criticism than Kate Middleton since her engagement announcement in November 2017. Markle is divorced, an American actress, and biracial, which makes her an atypical addition to the royal family.
Next: The two couples will have had their ceremonies at different locations.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle as their wedding venue. This is a much smaller location than Prince William and Kate Middleton’s ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Next: Who will Harry and Meghan invite to the event?
The guest list
As the future monarch, Prince William was expected to invite a large number of royals and other officials to his and Kate’s ceremony. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will invite their friends and other prestigious guests, but the number of invites likely won’t reach the same number.
Next: Harry and Meghan’s wedding won’t even come close in size to William and Kate’s.
St. George’s chapel is estimated to hold about 800 people, while Westminster Abbey seats about 2,000. This will limit the number of attendees Harry and Meghan can expect at their ceremony, making it much smaller than William and Kate’s.
Next: Though Prince William followed this tradition in his parents’ honor, his brother likely won’t.
The balcony kiss
William and Kate shared a special kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony following their wedding, as did Charles and Diana decades prior. With their wedding so far from the palace, it’s unlikely Harry and Meghan will join in the tradition following their ceremony.
Next: Here’s another tradition the young royal couple probably won’t keep.
A traditional royal wedding usually isn’t complete without a tiered fruitcake. Instead, Harry and Meghan plan on displaying and serving a cake made from bananas.
William and Kate had two cakes — one traditional British cake, and another made from chocolate biscuits, per the prince’s request.
Next: William and Kate don’t behave in public the way Harry and Meghan do.
Prince William and Kate Middleton tend to abide by more traditional British royal standards when out in public, leaving plenty of space between them and remaining more “business-like.”
Unlike William and Kate, Harry and Meghan publicly hold hands and don’t bother making an effort to downplay their love for one another.
Next: This royal tradition won’t make it into the couple’s wedding day itinerary.
The London parade
One of many traditions William and Kate upheld following their wedding was the horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of London. Because Harry and Meghan’s ceremony won’t take place close to the city, it’s unlikely they’ll follow suit.
Next: Will a bank holiday accompany this royal wedding like it did in 2011?
No national holiday
Prince William and Kate’s wedding granted everyone a national bank holiday and day off of work, but that isn’t likely to happen in the 2018 wedding. Officials don’t want to give workers another day away from their jobs, though they wish Harry and Meghan all the best.
Next: Both women met the Queen, but in very different atmospheres.
Meeting the Queen
Kate Middleton first met Queen Elizabeth among a crowd of other guests while attending Peter Phillips’s wedding to Autumn Kelly in 2008.
Markle met the Queen in a much more private setting — accompanying Harry on an hour-long meeting for tea in Buckingham Palace.
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