People attach a U.S. flag when decorating their home along the route the royal couple will travel in Windsor, England, Friday, May 18, 2018. Preparations continue in Windsor ahead of the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Saturday May 19. (Peter Dejong/Ap Photo)

Fans head to Windsor; Charles to walk Markle down the aisle

Markle asked the heir to the British throne to offer a supporting elbow in St. George’s Chapel

The future king of England will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle when she marries his son Prince Harry — a gesture of welcome to the American actress as she joins the royal family. The news came as thousands of well-wishers began descending upon Windsor amid final preparations for Saturday’s royal wedding.

Union Jacks have been unfurled, security barriers and police patrols are in place and fans were already moving in Friday to capture the prime viewing positions in Windsor, a castle town 25 miles (40 kilometres) west of London.

Tens of thousands of spectators, including many Americans who have come in support of Markle, will be travelling to Windsor to soak up the atmosphere. They will be subject to airport-style security scanners and bag searches.

The barricades aim to deter attackers using vehicles, such as the one on Westminster Bridge in London last year. Sniffer dogs and mounted patrols are also out and about.

Kensington Palace said Friday that Markle asked the heir to the British throne to offer a supporting elbow at the wedding in St. George’s Chapel after Markle’s father was unable to attend due to illness. Prince Charles “is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to the Royal Family in this way,” the palace said.

Buckingham Palace also announced that the Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will attend the royal wedding, just a few weeks after undergoing a hip replacement operation. The 96-year-old has largely retired from public duties and it had not been clear whether he would be well enough to attend.

The last-minute announcements came after days of speculation about how the royals would handle the possible absence of Markle’s father.

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was the bookies’ favourite to escort the bride, but Charles has a lifetime of experience in appearing at large-scale public events amid intense scrutiny.

“I think some people will be disappointed — people who were looking forward to the historic moment of a woman walking her daughter down the aisle, and a woman of mixed race heritage from America. It would have made an historic shot,” said royal historian Robert Lacey.

“But of course, Meghan has already arranged for her mother to drive up here to take her up to the castle. And for Prince Charles, the future king, to walk a bride down the aisle, what more could Meghan dream of?” Lacey added. “And so, one symbolism may be disappointed, but the other one is more than satisfied.”

Ragland, meanwhile, was to have tea Friday with the queen at Windsor Castle, her latest meeting with her daughter’s new in-laws. Ragland dined with Prince William, Harry’s older brother and best man, and William’s family on Thursday and met Charles and his wife Camilla a day earlier.

It’s not the first time a royal bride hasn’t been walked down the aisle by her father. The monarch’s sister, the late Princess Margaret, was walked down the aisle by Prince Philip. Queen Victoria walked two daughters down the aisle.

Roseline Morris, 35-year-old from Basildon, England, noted that Charles hasn’t got a daughter himself.

“He’s never going to get the chance to walk a daughter down the aisle, so this will be nice for him as well.” she said. “I imagine he’ll be feeling very proud.”

Having the father of the groom escort the bride is yet another twist in a royal wedding that is proving to be different from many others.

Master baker Claire Ptak said Friday that the royal wedding cake — a three-part layered lemon and elderflower cake — will have an “ethereal” taste and be presented in a non-traditional way.

Ptak and her team of six bakers have been working for the last five days in the oversize kitchens of Buckingham Palace. The ingredients for the cake will include 200 Amalfi lemons and 10 bottles of Sandringham Elderflower Cordial from the queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

Amid all the preparations, British police had one request for the tens of thousands expected Saturday to watch the newest royal couple ride in a carriage around Windsor: Don’t throw confetti, particularly during the procession.

“It poses a potential security risk and it’s a bit of a pain to clean up!” Thames Valley Police said. “We hope everyone enjoys the day.”

Jill Lawless contributed from London.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack firefighters douse Yarrow shed fire

No one injured in the Tuesday afternoon blaze

Chilliwack gymnast to compete in Pan American Championships

Canadian national teamer Zachary Clay travels to Peru in September for international competition.

Harv Westeringh announces run for Chilliwack council

The local realtor/builder has strong interest in municipal issues and fiscal responsibility

Night patrol on Chilliwack waters leads DFO to seize 48 sockeye and harbour seal from poachers

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for fishing at night

Highway 7 down to one-lane alternating as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Most Read