LONDON (AP) — Royal wedding organizers are preparing for a rehearsal of the proceedings to take place in Windsor — but without the bride and groom.
Planners will use Thursday's practice session to finalize some of the details of Saturday's gala wedding at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The wedding day festivities will include a 25-minute carriage ride outside the castle grounds by the newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after the ceremony is concluded. More than 2,600 members of the public have been invited onto the castle grounds to watch the procession.
A large military contingent will also take part, reflecting Harry's years of military service.
It is not clear who will walk Markle down the aisle. Her father Thomas Markle had been selected for that role but is reportedly ill with heart problems.
Markle's mother Doria Ragland may take Thomas Markle's place if needed. She has arrived in England and is expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II — Harry's grandmother — and other senior royals in the two days left before the wedding.
Ragland — who arrived carrying a Burberry suit bag, a possible clue to her wedding outfit — will visit with Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Prince William and his wife Kate, and other members of the family her daughter will officially join Saturday.
Thomas Markle was expected to do the same, but the celebrity website TMZ reports he is hospitalized in California after undergoing a cardiac procedure to clear blocked arteries. He reportedly told the website after the procedure that he is fine but needs to rest.
The drama surrounding Mr. Markle, and harsh comments about Meghan Markle made by estranged members of her extended family who were not invited to the wedding, have increasingly dominated tabloid coverage of the royal wedding in recent days.
Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine on Thursday castigated Harry's Kensington Palace press operation for not doing more to prevent Meghan Markle's estranged relatives from sniping at her during the run-up to the big event.
"Even the most cursory internet search would have thrown up a few red flags," she said. "Could they not have taken at least a few steps to get them on-side?"