Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are wasting no time with their nuptials, confirming they plan to get married in May, within six months of announcing their engagement.
And according to royal expert Kate Nicholl, the prince’s special bond with his aging grandfather, Prince Philip, is behind both the timing and venue for the wedding.
“He didn’t want to get married at the same place as his brother,” Nicholl told ET about the couple’s choice to hold the ceremony at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip reside. “He didn’t want to have such a big royal wedding at Westminster Abbey — it doesn’t need to be as big as William’s wedding. Harry really wanted to have something a little bit more intimate. The second reason is that he wanted something close to home for the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen.”
“In fact, one of the reasons that Prince Harry has wanted this wedding to happen quite quickly— this is really whirlwind by royal standards— is because his 96-year-old grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, is retired now and Prince Harry really wants him to be at his wedding,” Nicholl continued. “He’s incredibly close to his grandfather and, being 96, Harry thought it was it was a great thing to [have] the wedding sooner rather than later, so his grandfather could be there, fit and healthy.”
As well as having spent significant time in Windsor with his grandparents, the 33-year-old royal also went to school there, while Markle is also believed to have visited Windsor Castle. The chapel — which Nicholl believes holds around 800 people in comparison to Westminster Abbey’s capacity of 2,000— will also allow the pair to have a fairly intimate wedding.
“I think Harry and Meghan were both united on the idea of having a small, family, intimate wedding,” she said. “I know it doesn’t sound small with 800 people, but by royal standards, it is smaller. And, Windsor is also really special place to Prince Harry. He spent a lot of childhood there, went to school there [and] it’s where he spends a lot of time as an adult with his grandmother.”
“And, we understand it’s where Meghan first got to know the Queen,” Nicholl added. “She spent time with the Queen at Windsor, so I think [it’s] a special place to both of them and that was very much indicated in today’s press conference.”
The venue was also where Prince Charles and wife Camilla Parker Bowles held a blessing for their marriage in 2005. While the chapel doesn’t have a balcony for the couple to make their first public appearance as husband and wife, Kensington Palace aides have told Nicholl that the pair are looking into how they can “make the public as much a part of this wedding as they can.”
As it becomes apparent that the wedding will be much different from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big day, Nicholl adds that Harry’s relationship itself is starkly different to his brother’s.
“One of the contrasts between William and Kate’s engagement interview and photo call and Meghan and Harry’s is that Meghan and Harry seemed a lot more relaxed in front of the cameras,” Nicholl said. “They barely looked at the cameras— they were so busy gazing into each other’s eyes and they were tactile together and held hands. Their arms were linked, they were incredibly happy.”
“I think to show that affection— [like] we saw back at the Invictus Games when Harry kissed Meghan on the cheek at the closing ceremony— is utterly unprecedented royal behaviour,” she added. “Usually we don’t see those public displays of affection, so in that respect we’re seeing a very different couple to William and Kate.”
More From ET