Millions of viewers tuned in from around the world when Kate Middleton married Prince William on Apr. 29, 2011, and no less is expected of Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry later this month. While Duchess Kate broke some royal wedding traditions, such as arriving with her father to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey by car rather than a horse-drawn glass carriage, she honored many on her special day.
Only time will tell how traditional the former Suits actress and her prince will go with their wedding, but it is expected to include quite a few modern touches. As we wait, let’s take a look at some common royal wedding traditions.
1. Weekday Weddings
Royal weddings are traditionally held on a weekday, although this isn’t an official rule. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will break tradition by exchanging vows on Saturday, May 19 to allow for more people to view the festivities.
2. Leaving the Bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
When Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon wed King George IV in 1923, she laid her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey to honor her brother who died on the Western Front in 1915. Every bride since Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother has followed suit, and it is expected that Markle will do the same.
3. A Special Flower for the Bouquet
In England, myrtle is a symbol of love and good fortune, making it the perfect wedding flower. Many royal brides, including Princess Diana and Duchess Kate, followed in Queen Victoria’s footsteps in carrying a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets. The myrtle even came from Queen Victoria’s 170-year-old plant, a gift from Prince Albert’s grandmother.
4. Buckingham Palace Balcony Kiss
The weddings of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, included a stop at Buckingham Palace. The couples stood on the balcony and kissed for the crowd of commoners below. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria also had memorable moments on the balcony during their own weddings. However, this isn’t a tradition that is likely to continue for the upcoming royal wedding, which will be held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Instead, the couple will be center stage in a carriage procession through Windsor in the hopes that more people will be able to celebrate their special day.
9. Fruitcake for Dessert
The weddings of Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana and Duchess Kate had one thing in common: fruitcake. Each royal bride served multi-tiered versions of the traditional English wedding cake, and slices even accompanied their thank you notes. Markle and Prince Harry have chosen a more modern approach to their wedding dessert. Claire Ptak, owner of London-based Violet Bakery, will create a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream and fresh flowers for guests to enjoy at their spring wedding.