The world is preparing to watch Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tie the knot on Saturday, May 19, but so is a section of the British army to which Harry used to belong. The wedding is due to be a garish and huge ceremony (they don't call them royal weddings for nothing), but as part of the ceremony, Harry's former regiment will play a pivotal role. So what is the Household Cavalry? Prince Harry's former army regiment is already practicing for the big day.
Royal weddings tend to dazzle because of their elaborate services and traditions dating back centuries. The cool thing this time around is that Prince Harry will receive a royal salute from the regiment he once belonged to. The Household Cavalry is a subset of the Household Division of the British army, and is the Queen's official bodyguard detail — one of the oldest in the British armed forces. Harry's brother, Prince William, was also a member of the Household Cavalry at one time, per the BBC.
Once the Prince Harry and Markle have exchanged their vows and emerge from St. George’s Chapel on May 19, the cavalry will perform the royal salute and other pageantry duties including a staircase party, traveling escort, and state trumpeters are due to take place.
Captain Thomas Mountain explained the royal salute to People Magazine earlier in May, saying:
A Household Cavalry version of the royal salute is when we sort of punch our sword out to the right and bring it all the way across the front our body until it is back in front of our face, and then lower the sword down. The horse and the traveling escort will be waiting for the married couple to come out in their carriage and will pick them up just outside the Royal Mews. They will then escort them through Windsor and back into Windsor Castle, where the escort will finish and return to the barracks.
More than 250 members of the Armed Forces will perform ceremonial duties at the wedding, according to the British Ministry of Defense, but only about 60 of those are members of the Household Cavalry. The British Armed Forces has long held special ties to the royal family, and often take part in ceremonial pageantry at the palace.
Harry joined the army in 2005 and served for 10 years, according to The Royal Household's website. He rose to the rank of captain after two tours of Afghanistan, and is reportedly still invested in the work in support of his fellow servicemen, which explains a certain kinship they have for being a part of the ceremony on Saturday.
"I am particularly pleased to hear that members of the Armed Forces who have a close relationship with Prince Harry will be taking part," Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, chief of the defense staff said in a statement. "Servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will all be honoured to offer their support."
Everybody loves a wedding, right? As far as the royal couple is concerned, the military's contributions to the ceremony seem to be welcome.
"Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are pleased that members of the Armed Forces will play such a special role in their Wedding," a Kensington palace spokesperson said in a statement. "The Military, and these units in particular, hold a great significance for Prince Harry and the couple are incredibly grateful for their support."
D'aw, so touching. If you're still looking for the best place to watch the wedding, don't forget to plan to get off the couch for a viewing — it's way better.