With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle due to marry on May 19th, we thought we’d have a look at what the Royal Wedding seating plan will look like, in particular the church seating plan and the top table at their reception.
There is a lot involved in planning a wedding and one of the trickiest parts can often be working out who is going to sit where.
The Church – St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Will The Queen Attend?
Her Majesty The Queen, however, may not attend the ceremony. She is Head of the Church of England which generally doesn’t permit a divorcee to remarry, and so this may present a conflict of interest for her. She was absent at Prince Charles’ ceremony when he married Camilla Parker Bowles at Windsor Guildhall in 2005. A recent policy change though has meant the Church of England now accepts that in “exceptional circumstances” a divorced person may marry again. We’ll wait to see if Her Majesty does decide to witness the nuptials.
St George’s Chapel is much smaller than Westminster Abbey, the venue of William and Kate’s wedding ceremony in 2011 which holds 1900. It’s likely, therefore, that only close friends and family of the couple will receive invitations. US President Donald Trump is reportedly off the guest list and therefore, for diplomatic reasons, former President Barack Obama and friend of Harry is now unlikely to be invited, despite earlier rumours that he might.
At present, Kensington Palace hasn’t given any detail on the seating arrangements for the ceremony. It’s likely though that it will broadly follow that of William and Kate’s wedding. Whilst largely breaking with the traditional ‘Bride’s side’ and ‘Groom’s side’, members of the British Royal Family and close Markle family members will be at the front, the former on the right and latter on the left. The church seating plan for William and Kate’s wedding is shown here.
We will update the seating plan for the ceremony at St George’s chapel once official information from the Palace is released, most likely the week before the big day.
The Traditional Reception Seating Plan
Traditionally in the UK, seated at the top table would be the Bride and Groom, their respective parents, the best man and the chief bridesmaid.
If this was any “normal” wedding the top table might look something like:
Royals don’t have a best man, instead this role is called a “supporter” and it’s unlikely this will be anyone other than Harry’s brother, Prince William. At the time of writing we don’t know who Meghan’s maid of honour will be as she’s keeping this a closely guarded secret. It’s speculated that it will either be best friend, Jessica Mulroney, or friend, Lindsay Roth.
We imagine the Royal family would insist on the names being somewhat more formally labelled and so the top table would look like:
It’s widely expected that once married, The Queen will grant Harry and Meghan the currently vacant titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. This hasn’t yet been formally confirmed though.
An Extended Top Table
Being the Royal family though, there are two people missing from this “traditional” top table layout. Her Majesty the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. We’ve only just started working out the seating and we’ve already run into complications.
Meghan’s parents separated and divorced when she was 6 and so this potentially further complicates the possible layout of the top table. However, it seems neither have remarried and therefore it’s unlikely any new partners would need accommodating on the top table too.
With all that in mind, the top table may therefore look something like this:We haven’t been able to find any reference to Royal protocol for a wedding top table, but as part of the Queen’s 60th wedding celebrations, the Royal Collection published the seating plan from the Queen’s own wedding in November 1947.
** Update: 15th May 2018 **
Following the news that Thomas Markle will sadly no longer be attending as a result of a recent heart attack and disclosures about his dealings with the paparazzi, we’ve had to make some last minute changes to the table plan. We also understand Meghan will not be having a Maid of Honour as she couldn’t pick one from her group of close friends. Thank goodness for TopTablePlanner!
We suspect Royal protocol will dictate that tables should just be numbered. This was the case with the Queen’s own wedding back in November 1947. However, if Harry and Meghan named their tables instead, here are some ideas they might use:
Famous Kings and Queens: This immediately seems the obvious choice! They could have Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth I and, of course, Harry’s grandmother Elizabeth II.
Royal Residences: This would be a good choice too. They might use Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Holyrood House, Clarence House, Sandringham and Highgrove.
Gemstones: The Royal Family certainly aren’t strangers to ‘bling’ so this might be a good theme for table names!
Football Clubs: Perhaps an odd choice, but their wedding is being held on the same day as the FA Cup Final and Harry’s brother, William, is President of the Football Association (FA)!
British Food: Given Meghan’s love of food and all things British, they could have a food theme – Cornish Pasties, Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Beef, Fish and Chips…
The wedding is still some way off and the Royal Household has plenty of time to work out the seating arrangements. As with all weddings though, we’d advise to start the seating plan early as it really is one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding.
We’ll be updating this post if we can find more information on Royal protocol and hopefully in May we’ll be able to see how close our predictions were!
Most of the seating plan images on this page were, of course, created using TopTablePlanner. If you wish to use these images on your own website you are free to do so on the understanding that we are credited and that a link is given to www.toptableplanner.com.
This article was originally written in April 2011 and discussed the seating plan for the wedding of William and Kate, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It has been re-written and updated ahead of the wedding of Harry and Meghan.