Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will break with royal tradition by marrying on a Saturday – upstaging the FA Cup Final and all but ending the possibility of an extra bank holiday.
Kensington Palace announced yesterday that the wedding, at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, would take place on May 19.
The date falls midway between the two existing May holiday weekends and will have been chosen in part to give the Duchess of Cambridge time to recover after the birth of her third child, which is due in April.
Kate’s husband, William, who is president of the Football Association, would have been expecting to be 22 miles from Windsor on the big day, presenting the trophy at Wembley.
The FA was sanguine about the conflict of loyalties the weekend may bring. “Saturday 19 May promises to be a wonderful day with such a special royal occasion being followed by English football’s showpiece event,” its spokesman said.
“With millions coming together to watch both events at home and around the world, it will be a day to celebrate.”
Royal weddings usually take place on a weekday. The Cambridges married on a Friday and the Queen on Thursday.
May 19 is the anniversary of a less happy royal occasion – on that day 1536, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, was executed on Tower Green for adultery.
Palace aides have said that Harry and Ms Markle’s wedding will “reflect their characters and personalities” and be a moment of “fun and joy”.
They will say “I do” in the historic surrounds of Windsor’s 15th century chapel. Ms Markle, an American divorcee, is to become a British citizen and will be both baptised and confirmed ahead of the ceremony.
The Royal family are paying for the wedding, including the church service, the music, the flowers and the reception.
But the security costs for the event are falling to the taxpayer.
The Queen will be there, as will the rest of the royal family, along with Ms Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte are expected take on the roles of page boy and bridesmaid.
Harry proposed to Ms Markle, whose previous fame was as an actress in the TV series Suits, during a night in over a roast chicken dinner, after a 16-month whirlwind romance.
In his engagement interview he said “the stars were aligned” when he fell for his future wife, whom he met on a blind date.
The actor Idris Elba, speaking before a Buckingham Palace dinner with the Prince of Wales to celebrate the work of The Prince’s Trust, said Ms Markle would be a “beacon” and a role model as a member of the Royal family.
The star of the TV dramas Luther and The Wire was a beneficiary of the charity, and was asked about role models who are black or of mixed race, and whether Ms Markle’s profile could make a difference to young people.
“Meghan Markle, as a person, regardless of her colour, is a role model,” he said.
“As a strong woman marrying into our Royal family, she’s going to be a role model for any woman.
“The point is that our society is one of mixed heritage and it’s nice to see Meghan within the Royal family.
“And of course she’s going to be a beacon and of course she’s going to be someone that people look towards.”
The star previously said “good old Prince Charles” had helped him get his big break, and that money from the Prince’s Trust helped him go to the National Youth Music Theatre.