Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s final, “top tier” wedding festivities are officially underway!
The newlyweds arrived for an exclusive and closely-guarded evening reception thrown by Prince Charles at Frogmore House in Windsor, England, on Saturday evening.
“This wedding is a bit like the wedding cake itself,” royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET following the couple's stunning church service earlier in the day. “You have the big tier at the bottom, where everyone is invited -- nearly 2,000 members of the public and 600 in the church, [then] 600 only at the [afternoon] reception. Then, the top tier of this wedding cake is the elite [evening] party -- the 200 of their best friends and closest family, and that will all be happening behind closed doors down at Frogmore House.”
Guests will be able to let loose at the reception, with phones expected to be surrendered upon arrival. The same protocol was in place at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 reception and it seems that no photo from that party has ever emerged, so Harry is no doubt hoping for the same level of privacy.
“Prince Harry, who guards his privacy quite ferociously, wants this to be his private night,” says Nicholl. "There will be no cameras tonight at the most exclusive part of the evening. That is the VIP reception at Frogmore House. A party for just two hundred of their closest friends and that will be locked down. Of course, that's where all the fun is going to be happening.”
One of the highlights of the night is sure to be as Meghan, 36, takes to the microphone to make her first public speech as the Duchess of Sussex. While it’s usually the father of the bride that speaks, the former actress’ dad, Thomas, is currently in the U.S. recovering from heart surgery.
“Meghan wanted to get up and say something and I expect that she is probably thanking the royal family for welcoming her so warmly into the fold [and] thanking her husband,” Nicholl says. “What a wonderful thing to be able to say, thanking everyone that is here today. I think she's an incredibly articulate woman. She'd have given a lot of thought to what she was going to say today, and what a platform to say it from.”
The couple arrived at the reception with Meghan having changed into a lily white, silk crepe, high-neck Stella McCartney gown and nude mesh, silky satin Aquazurra shoes, which had baby blue soles. She was also wearing a blue aquamarine ring, which Kensington Palace told multiple outlets belonged to Princess Diana and was a wedding gift from Harry. Her hair was styled in an up-do by George Northwood.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex depart Windsor Castle for a reception hosted by The Prince of Wales at Frogmore House, in a silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero. This vehicle was originally manufactured in 1968, and has since been converted to electric power #RoyalWeddingpic.twitter.com/hRrxEUlFlJ
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 19, 2018
Looking dapper in a black-and-white tuxedo, Harry drove the couple to the event in a blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero, which was originally manufactured in 1968 and has since been converted to electric power.
Around 200 close friends and family were expected to attend the evening reception, with a double decker bus of guests reportedly arriving from Coworth Park Hotel in Ascot at 7:15 p.m. local time, followed by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Late night talk show host James Corden is expected to host the party.
The evening included a dazzling fireworks display.
The ultra private reception concludes a day of regal wedding fun, beginning with the stunning nuptials and luncheon -- featuring a performance by Sir Elton John -- at Windsor Castle, followed by an afternoon reception.
See more on the sweet couple's big day below.
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