Ancient ritual and modern romance meet as Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle in a dazzling show of pomp and pageantry

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Newlyweds: Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, thrill crowds of well-wishers with a carriage procession after their wedding in Windsor Castle. (AP)
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Meghan Markle arrives at the Windsor Castle chapel. (AFP)
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Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Ancient ritual and modern romance meet as Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle in a dazzling show of pomp and pageantry

  • African-American Karen Long, who was among the crowds in Windsor, was one of those who appreciated the bishop’s fiery address.
  • Meghan entered the chapel unescorted, offering TV viewers and the congregation a first good look at her hotly anticipated wedding dress.

LONDON: It was a wedding ceremony few would have predicted for a member of the British royal family — a blend of ancient English ritual and African-American culture, infusing the 1,000-year-old British monarchy with a blast of modernity.
Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony. 

Inside the medieval chapel at Windsor Castle that 39 English kings and queens have called home since 1066, the sixth-in-line to the British throne and a middle-class American divorcee exchanged vows watched up close by royals and celebrities, and from afar by a global TV audience of many millions.

Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, the bride was accompanied up the aisle of St. George’s Chapel by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before they were proclaimed husband and wife.

The couple kissed on the steps of the 15th-century chapel, before delighting the sea of well-wishers, some of whom had camped for days to witness the spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry, by touring Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage.

The union of Harry, 33, a former royal wild child, and 36-year-old Meghan, whose mother is African-American and father is white, was like no other the royal family has seen.

“We can break the barriers down, it can be done,” said 40-year-old black Briton Yvonne Emanuel, one of the 100,000-strong crowd that thronged Windsor’s streets.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor while Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the couple man and wife, beneath the banners of the knights of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest chivalric group dating back to 1348.

The newlyweds will be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed the titles on them.

But throughout the wedding, there were significant breaks with tradition, in particular when US Episcopalian bishop Michael Bruce Curry delivered a passionate sermon that was a far cry from the sober tones of the Church of England.

“There’s power in love,” he boomed at a congregation that included celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Amal and George Clooney, and David Beckham.

“Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love knows what I mean,” said Curry in an energetic address that quoted Martin Luther King.

African-American Karen Long, who was among the crowds in Windsor, was one of those who appreciated the bishop’s fiery address.

“It was a moment for African-Americans,” said Long, who had come from Houston, Texas, with her sister and a group of friends, all dressed as bridesmaids. “The idea that Harry allowed that and acknowledged it — it was the perfect blend between her culture and the royal culture.”

As well as traditional Church of England anthems and delicate English choral music, the ceremony also featured a gospel choir singing “Stand by Me,” the 1960s hit by American soul singer Ben E. King.

Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, 61, accompanied her daughter to the chapel in a vintage Rolls-Royce and shed tears of emotion at several points during the ceremony.

Meghan entered the chapel unescorted, offering TV viewers and the congregation a first good look at her hotly anticipated wedding dress, created by British designer Clare Waight Keller, of the French fashion house Givenchy.

Harry, looking nervous, appeared to say: “Thanks Pa” to his father, and “You look amazing” to his beaming bride.

In further breaks with tradition, Markle, 36, did not vow to obey her husband; while Harry, who is three years her junior, wore a wedding ring — unlike other senior male royals such as his older brother Prince William.


Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

Updated 21 June 2018
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Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

  • The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum.
  • Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events.

ATHENS: Hymns sung to the Greek gods thousands of years ago resonated from ancient musical instruments in Athens on Thursday, transporting a transfixed audience to antiquity.
The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum as part of World Music Day celebrations.
A family of musicians, Lyravlos have recreated exact replicas of the ancient instruments from natural materials including animal shells, bones, hides and horns.
Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events. Today only some 60 written scores of ancient Greek music have survived, said Lyravlos member Michael Stefos.
Stefos said they interpret them as best they can, relying on the accuracy of their recreated instruments.
“Joking aside, ancient CDs have never been found,” he said.
Their performance included a hymn to the god Apollo, pieces played at the musical festival of the ancient Pythian Games in Delphi and during wine-laden rituals to the god Dionysus.
Michael’s father Panayiotis Stefos, who heads the group, travels to museums at home and abroad studying ancient Greek antiquities and texts in order to recreate the instruments.
“Usually each instrument has a different sound. It is not something you can make on a computer, it will not be a carbon copy,” said Stefos.
The difference with modern day instruments?
“If someone holds it in their arms and starts playing, after a few minutes they don’t want to let it go, because it vibrates and pulsates with your body,” he said.
French tourist Helene Piaget, who watched the performance, said it was “inspiring.”
“One sees them on statues, on reliefs, and you can’t imagine what they might sound like,” she said.
World Music Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the summer solstice.