As speculation soars over who will get an invitation to the wedding of the decade, the spotlight has fallen on those in the West who do stand a good chance of hob-nobbing at the party which could cost £2 million.
That is expected be the bill, to be covered by the Prince of Wales, for Prince Harry’s big day when the popular royal marries American Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in May.
Royal watchers believe that the wedding could be so glittering that it is likely to see Harry’s American bride dubbed “Meghan Sparkle” as both The Queen and Prince Charles dig into their jewellery collections to loan out spectacular items of bling for the bride to wear to adorn her dress.
Although Prince William is the more senior royal, as he is second in line to the throne whereas Harry is currently fifth, and will be sixth after the birth of the Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby, it is believed that Prince Charles will want to offer his youngest son the same sort of send-off as his senior sibling.
If so, the royal wedding will burn a hole into the reported £1 billion fortune of Charles, Duke of Cornwall, who will fund it from the private bank account of the Duchy.
The cost of William’s wedding was reported to be £20 million. Of that £18 million was spent on security, with the Treasury picking up the tab. The remaining cost was paid mainly by the Royal Family with some contribution from the Duchess’s family, the Middletons, and this is expected to be the precedent for Harry’s too.
Like William’s was, the official announcement of Harry’s wedding was made in November, revealing that the big day would be a date in the Spring. This is to be in May, so as not to clash with the expected birth of William’s third child and the 92nd birthday of The Queen in April.
But with six months of high-level planning now underway, the guessing game begins of who from the West Country may be a part of it.
For Prince William’s wedding, three sets of guest lists were sent out in the name of The Queen. The first list, consisting of about 1,900 people, attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey; the second list of approximately 600 people were invited to the luncheon reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen; and the final list, of about 300 names, was for an evening dinner hosted by the Prince of Wales at the palace.
But St George’s Chapel will only accommodate 300 people “comfortably” and up to 800 “at a squeeze”. More guests are expected to be invited to the wedding reception and evening party, which look likely to be held at Windsor Castle, thus avoiding an hour-long road trip to Buckingham Palace.
For Prince Harry’s big day, the only near-certainly is that Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenants for Dorset and Somerset, Angus Campbell and Anne Maw respectively, will be invited per royal tradition.
As all brides know, a big wedding is all about a great dress and much-lauded Somerset fashion designer Alice Temperley is in the frame as a contender to win the coveted royal appointment.
Ms Temperley, who grew up on her parents’ cider farm near her country home at Cricket Court, has designed for the Duchess of Cambridge, and she has the bonus of being highly-regarded by American fashionistas, who have dubbed her “the English Ralph Lauren”.
She launched Temperley Bridal 10 years ago and her London-based brand is celebrated for its focus on luxurious fabrics and hand-finishes, which – if she gets the commission from Ms Markle – could include, per royal tradition since the wedding of Queen Victoria, the addition of the renowned Honiton Lace.
Ms Temperley has received several awards, including English Print Designer of the Year in 1999 at Indigo, Paris and Elle magazine’s Best Young Designer of the Year Award in 2004. She was named one of Britain’s top 35 female business leaders in 2006 and Designer of The Year at the Hollywood Style Awards in 2011.
She was appointed an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to the fashion industry and wearers of Temperley designs have included The Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton. Pippa Middleton wore a floor-length green Temperley gown for the evening reception at her sister’s wedding. Temperley dresses have also been worn by Hollywood stars Penelope Cruz, Thandie Newton, Portia Freeman, Eva Mendes, Halle Berry and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
But who will make the wedding cake for Harry and Meghan’s event? For William and Kate’s wedding the cake had a strong British floral theme, using elements of the Joseph Lambeth technique. It was an eight-tiered traditional fruit cake decorated with cream and white icing and 900 sugar paste flowers. The cake designer was Fiona Cairns based in Fleckney, Leicestershire.
If the floral theme which is very popular with modern brides is continued, then a rising Dorset star of the high-end bakery business could find herself getting a call from Kensington Palace.
Award-winning Wimborne-based cake designer Sadie Smith has so distinguished herself with her original creations that she is now on speed-dial to supply cake for many top events in the West, where her speciality “naked cakes” are much in demand.
On her website Sadie says: “Baking is my passion, I love the reactions of people when they collect their cakes, and I strive to not only make them look fantastic but they have to taste amazing too. I limit the number of cakes I work on in a week so that I can guarantee each and every customer that their cake is made with care and love.”
The official photographs are very much the pride and joy of any happy couple and another West Country name could find himself called on for the royal wedding – as Bristol-based photographer Paul Burns is already well-known to Prince Harry and is highly-trusted by the Royal Family – so much so that he holds a royal warrant.
Mr Burns numbers the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry among his long list of blue-chip clients who also include the Royal Ballet School, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The well-connected photographer who has a studio in Clifton says on his website, “In 1994, I began photographing HRH The Prince of Wales as his personal photographer. I was granted my Royal Warrant in January 2000 after five full years of service and I’m pleased to say that due to continued service, I am still working for HRH on average twice a week throughout the working year.”
Every couple wants breath-taking blooms at their celebration and although Los Angeles-based Ms Markle may choose one of Hollywood’s many top floral designers for her bouquet, it is more likely that an English rose of the industry is selected and among contenders could be Grace Farrimond, whose Somerset-based company Young Blooms was recently named as among the 50 best wedding florists in the UK – and Grace has already designed for the Royal Family before.
Grace regularly competes in national florist competitions and has been placed in the semi-finals of Florist of the Year. Young Blooms, based near Bradford-On-Avon, was regionally short-listed for the Best Wedding Florist in the Wedding Industry Awards in 2013 and 2015, and was a finalist in the 2014 Wedding Blog Award.
“Young Blooms’ flowers have also been enjoyed by both royalty and celebrity clients alike,” the company reveals on its website, where it proudly boasts of “a vibrant business that takes pride in an excellent, personable service combined with a creative approach”.
But whomever is chosen to create the flowers, cake and the dress for the eagerly-anticipated wedding which is bound to strengthen the bond of the UK’s “special relationship” with America, one thing is certain – nobody, especially Kensington Palace, will yet be revealing many if any details of the big day.
They will remain top secret – as will be the venue for the other big bash, Harry’s stag night. Due to the massive media interest in the wedding and given the prince’s history for enjoying a party, the best man, who royal watchers say is likely to be Harry’s best friend, his brother, will have his work cut out in selecting a stag venue that is impenetrable by Harry’s least-favourite people, the international paparazzi.
Although any of the royal palaces would provide perfect security for the stag night, again the West Country could provide an alternative location and one which has history with Harry, Dorset’s Bovington Camp.
It was to Bovington that Harry came in 2006 at the age of 21 to be instructed on a troop leader course designed to train him to command four nine-ton Scimitar armoured fighting vehicles. Given that the Bovington Garrison houses two barracks of hundreds of soldiers, it would provide ideal protection against the prying paps.