LOVE them or loathe them, you cannot escape them. So with another royal wedding on the horizon with Prince Harry getting hitched to Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on Saturday, here’s our cut out and keep guide to their big day. Or, if you prefer, our tear-up and throw away version of the same.


Divorced, biracial and two years older than her fiancé, Markle used to be best known for her role as feisty attorney Rachel Zane in US legal drama Suits. Now that she’s marrying the sixth in line to the British throne, the 36-year-old occupies a slightly more elevated position on the world stage. So far, her entrance has been greeted with an enormous sigh of relief – she appears clever, strong, self-sufficient and feminist-minded, and her mixed-race background (her father is white, her mother African-American) has done much to recommend her to multicultural Britain. It’s hoped that she may bring some much needed attention to the UK’s manifest problems over racial equality. Not that everyone has greeted her arrival as a breath of fresh air: in November 2016 Prince Harry authorised the release of a strongly-worded statement attacking the British press for coverage he viewed as overtly racist.


It’s all shrouded in secrecy of course, but the smart money says there will be two dresses on the day – a traditional one for the wedding, and a more modern one for the reception – and that at least one of these will be made by London-based couturiers Ralph & Russo. Beyond that little is known except that the Ralph & Russo one is reported to be hand-stitched and heavily beaded and comes with a price tag of £100,000 - the Queen’s paying. As that doesn’t sound like it’ll be easy to dance to David Guetta in, it’s probably not the one for the reception.


Unlike Prince William’s wedding, which had a far greater whiff of state occasion about it, the guest list for this royal wedding is blessedly free of political leaders. As for the lucky ones who’ll be inside the chapel for the ceremony, they’ll be mostly close friends and relatives. Expect to spot a Beckham or two (or four or five: how many are there these days?) as well as a handful of Markle’s Tinseltown friends.

When it comes to the hoi polloi, some 1200 members of the public are being allowed to greet the royal couple in the grounds of Windsor Castle – they’ve been asked to bring their own grub as catering won’t be laid on for them.


Invitation get lost in the post? Ours too. Never mind, the Beeb have got it covered. And how! Coverage starts tomorrow with Royal Recipes, a daily show in which celeb chefs recreate Royal Wedding dishes of the past (here’s your chance to finally nail that Coronation Chicken recipe). Leading up to the big day you can watch The Royal Wedding: They’re Getting Married In The Morning on Friday evening. Then from 7am on Saturday it’s wall-to-wall wedding throughout the day. You can, of course, turn off the telly and read a book and forget the whole kitsch affair.


While it’s the wedding is obviously a day for the Monarchists, the UK’s Republicans are having their say too. Pressure group Republic, which campaigns for “a democratic alternative to the monarchy”, plan to protest in Windsor during the wedding. A recent UK-wide survey found that although nationally a third of respondents said the upcoming wedding made them feel more patriotic and proud to be British, only a quarter of Scots felt that way. Republic also launched a petition asking that no taxpayer funding be used for the wedding. I had 30,693 signatures – which, funnily enough, is about the population of Windsor. Just saying.


Retailers expect to flog about £70 million worth of royal wedding tat the run-up to the big day and it isn’t all mugs, tea towels and snow globes featuring Prince Harry in a Nazi armband at a fancy dress party. You can buy a Harry and Meghan dog-kerchief; Crown Jewels Heritage Condoms, featuring a picture of the happy couple; beer (Windsor Knot Royal Wedding Pale Ale); sausages (Sweet Ginger And American Mustard Flavour); there's even a Royal Wedding Colouring Book, and a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Harry and Meghan for £50.


While we mere mortals are free to marry how we like, the royals are tradition-bound. The groom must always wear a military uniform, a custom which dates back to Prince Albert. Prince William, for example, wore a red dress uniform from the Irish Guards and his father, Prince Charles, dressed up as a sailor. Another strange tradition is that the men never wear weddings rings – David Cameron, who clearly fancies himself a cut above the rest of us, also follows this tradition – and when it comes to the ceremony itself the royal family must always sit on the right hand side of the church. The bride’s ring will always contain Welsh gold and she always carries a sprig of myrtle, the herb of love.


Markle’s on-screen love interest and off-screen pal Patrick J Adams re-tweeted the official announcement of the engagement with the winning line: “She said she was just going out to get some milk”.

In his role as president of the Football Association, Aston Villa fan Prince William would normally be at the FA Cup Final on Saturday doing what everyone else does – screaming abuse at the referee – and then doing what nobody else is allowed to: presenting the cup to the winners. Not this year, though - he's Best Man.