The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed yesterday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.
British reserve crisscrossed with American verve in a service that broke molds and created new ones. Choirboys and a gospel choir; the archbishop of Canterbury and the African-American leader of the Episcopal church; a horse-drawn carriage and flowers hand-picked by the groom.
The wedding was a global event, thanks to Harry's status as a senior British royal and Markle's celebrity after starring on the US television series "Suits" for seven years. Yet it seemed somehow so personal — and they both beamed like a couple who couldn't take their eyes off each other.
In a rousing sermon that highlighted a bit of a culture gap between outgoing Americans and reserved Brits, the Most. Reverend Michael Curry of the US stirred the congregation from its fairy-tale reverie, quoting Martin Luther King in in a sermon that had some reaching for hankies and others shifting in their chairs.
"There's power in love," Curry said, his voice rising. "Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will."
He also quoted from the Song of Solomon in the Bible: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it."
Joining the couple were a phalanx of celebrities, many of whom shared their wish to change the world. Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Elton John, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, James Corden and David and Victoria Beckham all watched from rows of seats in the Gothic masterpiece that is St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Many in the throng who waited outside also embraced the trans-Atlantic symbolism of the moment. Sheraton Jones, 22, who is from California but studying in Britain, described it as a melding of cultures.
"It was very touching, it's two different cultures kind of coming together, it was just so surreal," she said.
In the United States, this royal wedding was embraced for its diversity and inclusivity.
"This was black history," said Joy Widgeon, who attended a house party in Burlington, New Jersey, with her 6- and 8-year-old daughters. "African-Americans were front and center at the royal wedding. This was the first time, and hopefully it won't be the last. I am here for it."
Harry also invited buddies from his 10 years of military service — which included two tours of duty in Afghanistan — and from many of the charities he supports, which have focused on helping wounded veterans and encouraging a more open discussion of mental health issues.