Last month, even before their engagement was official, news started to spread that Prince Harry had absolutely no plans to indulge the masses with the juicy details of his wedding to Meghan Markle, preferring to keep the ceremony "private" and all to themselves. "Pomp and pageantry is the last thing he would want," a source told Us Weekly. "I can see him wanting to get married at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. It would stop it from turning into a total media circus and give the day a sense of privacy that Harry so badly craves."
The source turns out to have been right: The pair are now officially set to wed at Windsor Castle in May, meaning they're staying far clear of Westminster Abbey, which is usually the royal wedding venue of choice, as evidenced most recently by Kate Middleton and Prince William. (It was also where Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip back in 1947.)
But Middleton's wedding, for example, drew a crowd of a million stretching from the abbey to Buckingham Palace, not to mention the 5,000 street parties that took place elsewhere across the U.K. (In case you're wondering how all those Brits managed to take work off, their wedding day was actually an official bank holiday.) In other words, his brother's ceremony sounds like the exact opposite of what Prince Harry has in mind, and the monarchy has his back on that: Downing Street has said there are "no plans" for a bank holiday to mark the occasion.
Windsor Castle, which is about an hour and a half away from London, has less than half the capacity than the abbey—800, compared to 2,000—and is a "very special place" for the couple, who "regularly spent time there over the last year and a half" and are "grateful to The Queen for granting permission for the use of the Chapel," according to Prince Harry's spokesperson.
"The couple, of course, want the day to be a special, celebratory moment for their friends and family," the rep continued, though it seems like they've warmed to the idea of opening it to the masses, too, as he noted that both Prince Harry and Markle "are extremely grateful for the warm public response following yesterday's announcement of their engagement." That could be why they now "also want the day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too and are currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved."
Achieving it will definitely be easier said than done. Sure, Prince Edward had a much more toned-down wedding to his wife Sophie in the chapel in 1999, managing to avoid making it a "state occasion" by having no politicians present—including even the prime minister, Tony Blair. Still, their wedding was hardly out of the public eye: It drew crowds of about 30,000 people, and was broadcast to an estimated 200 million around the world. Presumably, then, Prince Harry and Markle won't shy from live coverage, or at least video footage of the the ceremony, which Harry's spokesperson promised "will be a moment of fun and joy."
It's largely up to the couple to ensure that, as they're the ones "leading the planning process for all aspects of the wedding." Here's hoping Markle calls up her close friend Serena Williams, who definitely knows how to keep a wedding fun while maintaining a proper level of respect and security for the royals in attendance: Present at her recent Beauty and the Beast-themed ceremony in New Orleans was none other than HRH Beyoncé.