A List Fit for a Royal Wedding
Hello! It's me, Anne, your friendly neighborhood royal wedding expert and I am here with a guide and booklist that will get you informed and swooning in no time! With the wedding just a little over a week away, I am all in on HRH Prince Harry of Wales marrying American actress and philanthropist Meghan Markle!
Anyone else obsessed? Maybe just a little a bit? Don't be embarrassed- join me!
I’ve read the books, planned my early morning royal wedding breakfast/tea complete with Union Jack bunting, British tea and scones with all the fixings and, of course, fascinators! I’m ready! I was also ready seven years ago for the wedding of William and Kate—just as I was ready when I was nine to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana with my mom. Clearly it's in my DNA. The following list has everything you’ll need to help get you prepared for the big event: gossipy biographies, best royals magazine coverage, royal romance novels to keep you swooning, royal movies and documentaries to watch, and cookbooks and party planning books to help you plan your very own royal wedding tea party (it’s not too late!). Plus, there's some info you might need to watch all the festivities on the big day. I may be oddly, obessesively thorough on this subject but it's all to the better to keep you informed!
"And then he proposed to me in the kitchen while we were roasting a chicken." - From their official BBC engagement interview.
Harry: Life, Loss and Love by Katie Nicholl
Prince Harry has spent his life(probably very happily) being the spare. I have a soft spot for Harry and the way he always leaned into Diana in pictures as a child. And who can forget him, along with his brother, solemnly walking behind his mother's casket 20 years ago—which had his letter to her on it, simply addressed "Mummy"? I'm not crying, you're crying! Nicholl specializes in all things Prince Harry and the royal family for several outlets, including Vanity Fair. She’s also written a biography that focused on the princes in their younger years, William and Harry.
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton
Morton, is best known for his biography of Princess Diana, Diana: Her True Story, the biography that really laid the groundwork for all the royal drama that followed. Here, he turns his attention to Meghan. He delves into her childhood, her parent's split, her dysfunctional stepfamily (her stepbrother recently published a letter he wrote to Harry telling him not to marry his selfish stepsister. Pretty sure his invitation got "lost" in the mail.), her acting career, her now defunct lifestyle blog, "The Tig," her philanthropy, her failed first marriage and divorce—luckily for her, there’s not a whole lot of salacious scandal to spill.
American Princess: the love story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by Leslie Carroll
The true story of all the twists and turns that led to these two crazy kids meeting and falling in love. Ain’t fate grand? As the author says, a generation ago this marriage would have never been possible. A foreigner? An actress? A divorcee? Bi-racial? Never! But now it is entirely possible and I love it! Read an excerpt here in the May 2018Vanity Fair.
William & Catherine: a royal wedding by Andrew Morton
Relive the majesty and the romance of Britain's cutest royal couple (so far!). Hard to believe it was seven years and three kids ago.
Prince William: The Man Who Would Be King by Penny Junor
I can’t imagine being Prince William and living in the fish bowl of royalty his whole life, but he’s gone through the ringer and come out the other side pretty gracefully. We should all be so lucky. It also must be hard knowing that everyone would just prefer leaping over your father and making you king. Awkward.
Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
American Bex Porter arrives at Oxford and immediately meets swoonworthy Nick, the cute boy who lives across the hall—little does she know that she is about be plunged into romance and drama central! Because as luck would have it, Nick is actually Prince Nicholas, the heir to the throne of England. This is the gold standard for all the royal romance novels. If you’re going to read just one, this is it! The authors also write the aforementioned GoFugYourself website and certainly know how to write a fun, realistic, gossipy tale. FYI, later editions include a special, extra chapter.
Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney (YA)
Two sisters, Charlotte and Libby, attending the same British boarding school fight over the same boy —Prince Edward. One is a social climber with all the right friends and all the right looks, and the other is more comfortable hanging out in the library in a hoodie. Who will get the guy? Will family win out? This is a fun, quick read.
Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
Amy Wilde is a talented London gardener who meets a handsome stranger at a party and soon learns that he is none other than the monarch of a European principality—as you do. She’s soon swept up in a scandalous engagement and fending off the press and his nosy family. This is clearly the book that every royal Hallmark movie gets it’s inspiration from. There’s a reason why this formula works and this one definitely works.
Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase
Samantha is a simple wildlife biologist when she discovers that she is actually the heir to an ducal estate in a small European principality (how many are there?). Thrust into a world of wealth and complicated politics, she soon meets Prince Alex—her new monarch. Alex discovers that the feisty Samantha might just be the kind of girl he’s been looking for. Part one of a series. Part two is Recklessly Royal and part three is Reluctantly Royal.
The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
In 1959, Haruko marries the Crown Prince of Japan, becoming the first commoner to enter the mysterious and reclusive world of the Japanese royal family. Met with cruelty and suspicion at every turn, Haruko perseveres and finally gives birth to a son and heir. Thirty years later, she is instrumental in helping her own son find a royal bride. Based on real life stories of the Japanese monarchy, this is a beautifully written novel from a master storyteller.
Royals by Rachel Hawkins (YA)
Daisy Winters is an offbeat, Florida teen with an after school job at the local Walmart, whose perfect older sister Ellie is almost engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. When Daisy joins Ellie in Scotland, she is plunged into royal lessons with the Crown Prince’s roguish younger brother Miles—a boy with his own offbeat, scandal prone past. The goal might be to turn Daisy into a lady but Daisy has her own ideas. I confess I haven’t read this one yet but they had me at Scotland.
The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (YA)
Once again we are at Oxford with an American. Evie arrives at the university and as luck would have it her room is in the same residence hall as Prince Edmund, the second in line to the British throne. But, it turns out that having royalty like you is very, very complicated. However, Evie has even more pressing problems, namely mysterious letters arriving from her dead mother that are riddles into her mother’s secretive past. Nowhere near as good as the seemingly similar Royal We (nothing is) but I still enjoyed it.
Cookbooks for your Royal Wedding Tea Party/ Breakfast
Celebrate: a year of festivities for families and friends by Pippa Middleton
If anyone knows how to throw a royal wedding tea party, it’s Pippa. Not only is she Catherine’s sister but her parents own the party supplies company Party Pieces. I love all the details and recipes in this book. She has great ideas, solid recipes and beautiful presentations. It’s a keeper.
A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: seasonal celebrations, traditions and recipes by Jessica Fellowes
Filled with the parties and celebrations of the fictional Downton Abbey, it actually has some great recipes including my go-to recipe for scones. It’s my scone making secret weapon and it works every time! If anyone knows a scone recipe, it’s Mrs. Patmore.
The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking by Linda Collister
I am obsessed with GBBO. If you don’t know the show, it’s literally the best baking competition reality show ever produced. Filled with ordinary Brits making extraordinary and delicious creations all with perfect British aplomb and dry wit. While the show has left the BBC and moved to ITV, the original judges and master bakers Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry will always be the best pairing. Luckily for us they have their own cookbooks too!
Alice's Tea Cup : delectable recipes for scones, cakes, sandwiches, and more from New York's most whimsical tea spot by Haley Fox
Alice’s Tea Cup is one of my go-to spots for scones and tea time in NYC. You really can’t go wrong. As it’s really hard to get a table, this is a good way to replicate the magic at home.
My quest to find things to watch the night before the wedding has led me to see what NYPL has in it’s collections. Here are some of my fave finds:
William & Kate: who says fairy tales don’t come true (Lifetime, 2011)
William & Catherine: a royal romance (Hallmark, 2012)
As I will be watching the Lifetime movie of Harry and Meghan’s romance (airing May 13th at 8pm on Lifetime), it’s only right I rewatch these as well or, err, at least one of them. I think I remember liking the Lifetime one better, but I honestly don't know which one I’m remembering. I’m sure they’re both about the same quality. Although the Hallmark production gets points for casting Jane Alexander and Victor Garber as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.
William & Kate: a royal life (2013)
They are the gold standard for happy, healthy royal married life in the spotlight. What I love is that they took their time and got really know each other and really know what they wanted. As far as I can tell, this seems to be the most recent documentary NYPL has on them.
The House of Windsor from George to Kate (2012)
Do you think Meghan knows the crazy family she's marrying into? This is for those who need a refresher in Windsor family history—if you've seen The Crown and Victoria you're probably all good on the family tree.
The Queen's palaces Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (2012)
The wedding is taking place at Windsor Castle so get the scoop on place before the big event.
The Queen (2006)
This film redefined Queen Elizabeth II for me. No longer was she this disapproving figure with her boxy, pastel dresses and handbags. She was human just like the rest of us and a force to be reckoned with. While her relationship with Diana was problematic, there is no denying she loves her two grandsons. A virtuoso, career-defining performance by Helen Mirren makes this a must see classic. I can't wait to see them do this era on The Crown.
Born to Royalty (2013)
All about the lives of royal children, in particular that adorable scamp Prince George. Who since the production of this documentary has been joined by his bossy sister, Princess Charlottle and the brand new Prince Louis. I'm already thinking of the beautiful cousins that will (hopefully) soon join them!
Prince George and Princess Charlotte trying to out wave each other in 2017
A Royal Night Out (2016)
This little seen gem is a favorite of mine. In 1945, on the evening of VE Day, young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret go out into London to celebrate, slip their official escorts, mingle with the regular folk and get into a whole heap of trouble. Bel Powley is hilarious as Margaret and Sarah Gadon brings a lovely earthiness to Elizabeth. An easy, fun watch.
Plus there’s a bunch of Harry and Meghan docs airing on E!, ABC, NBC, BBC America, PBS, CNN . . . just to name a few in the next few weeks leading up to the big day (and even after), so check those listings! In fact the Vulture website has started a list of them but I'm pretty sure it's not definitive so keep you eye out for more.
Prince William as a page boy during the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986 -The Daily Mirror/ AP
Watching the Big Event
So when is the big shindig?
Saturday May 19th.
What time does it start and how long does it go?
Most coverage starts around 4 or 4:30 AM, some at 5 AM (EST), with the ceremony happening around 7 AM and lasting until about 8 AM (give or take). Then they ride through Windsor estate waving for who knows how long. I’m betting coverage lasts until 9 or 10 AM—which was about long the William and Kate nuptials went.
Every major network (CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX), some cable networks (including MSNBC, CNN, E!), HBO is doing a humorous take with Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon (as Cord and Trish) and Britbox has ITV coverage—both are streaming it live. BBC America will have live BBC coverage. I’ll be waking up super duper early to watch all the coverage but you could also just record it and watch it later I suppose. And yes, I’m judging you. Jk:)
If you don't have anyone to watch it with and you want company, there are several places in NYC doing a viewing with accoutrements. Some even include later viewings in the afternoon for you lazy bones! Look here for a list of events and you might want to book soon.
And if I still haven't gotten you excited, at the very least you will want to see what Prince George and Princess Charlottle get up to as an official page boy and flower girl during the ceremony because they will be unpredictable and adorable!
Prince George, the future King, keeping it real during the trooping of the color in 2017.