This Saturday, May 19, Prince Harry will wed American actress Meghan Markle in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Markle will be the first woman of color in the modern era to marry into the British royal family. This will be the actress’ second marriage; the first, to film producer Trevor Engelson, only lasted two years.
The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be rather small in comparison with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s ceremony, which had 1,900 attendees. Only 600 people are invited to the ceremony and reception, and even fewer are invited to a more intimate post-reception evening party to be held at Frogmore House, which has been a royal residence since 1792.
Receiving an invitation to a wedding is a big deal, especially if those getting married are near and dear to you. On average, 120 people get the save-the-date card to a typical American wedding. Imagine, though, if you had to invite the heads of state of nearly every monarchy, members of your nation’s government, and all of your extended family. When you hail from royal blood, the guest list must not disappoint.
24/7 Wall St. sifted through a wealth of news sites to identify the royal weddings with the largest by attendance in the past century.
It’s important to note that our compilation of largely attended weddings, while impressive, is not comprehensive. Of the hundreds of royal weddings of the past century, it’s likely only a handful have made their guest list and attendance numbers available to the public.
Among the largest royal weddings, several nations and monarchies are represented including smaller countries like the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga and the southeast Asia nation of Brunei. The range of attendees at each of these weddings spans from a couple hundred to tens of thousands.
Interestingly enough, quite a few of these glamorous weddings did not lead to a sustainable marriage. Several of these marriages ended in divorce just a few years after the wedding. Other large weddings were downright controversial. Take the Prince of Tonga, for example, who denounced familial disapproval and took his cousin’s hand in marriage in the summer of 2012, claiming, “Love before protocol.”
The most publicized royal weddings are those of British royalty. The marriage of Prince Charles to the late Diana Spencer is perhaps the most famous royal wedding of all time. Not only did 3,500 people attend the wedding at Westminster Abbey, but also more than half a million people lined the streets of London that same day in an attempt to spot the newlywed royal couple. And a reported 750 million people had tuned in to watch the couple’s apprehensive kiss atop the balcony of the Buckingham Palace.