LONDON, May 18 — As Britain’s Prince Harry prepares to wed former US television actress Meghan Markle, here is a rundown of the big European royal weddings of the 21st century:
Haakon of Norway
August 25, 2001: Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby
— Norway’s first royal wedding since that of Haakon’s parents King Harald V and Queen Sonja took place at Oslo Cathedral. He was 28 and she was 27.
The union came with some controversy as Mette-Marit was a self-confessed “wild child” former waitress with a four-year-old son. Norwegians hailed it as a modern Cinderella story. She wept throughout the ceremony.
The couple have two children together.
Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
February 2, 2002: Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Maxima Zorreguieta
— The couple met in Seville in 1999. From Argentina, she was an investment banker in New York.
There was controversy over her father’s role in the Argentine junta but Maxima quickly won Dutch hearts.
He was 34 and she was 30. They married in a civil ceremony followed by a religious blessing in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk.
More than 80,000 people dressed in orange lined the streets.
The couple became the king and queen upon his mother queen Beatrix’s abdication in 2013. They have three daughters.
Frederik of Denmark
May 14, 2004: Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson
— The future king met Australian advertising executive Donaldson at a Sydney pub during the 2000 Olympics, only later revealing who he was.
They married at Copenhagen Cathedral. He was 35 and she was 32. Around 100,000 watched their carriage procession and saw them kiss on the balcony of the Amalienborg royal palace.
They have four children.
Felipe of Spain
May 22, 2004: Prince Felipe de Bourbon and Letizia Ortiz
— Eight days later, European royalty gathered again to see the 36-year-old heir to the Spanish throne, a former Olympic yachtsman, marry Letizia Ortiz, 31, a divorced journalist and television news presenter.
The sumptuous and rain-soaked ceremony at Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral ended years of speculation over the love life of a prince once considered Europe’s most eligible bachelor.
He has been the monarch since his father king Juan Carlos I’s abdication in 2014. Ortiz was first commoner to become queen of Spain.
They have two daughters.
Britain’s Prince Charles
April 9, 2005: Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
— Charles, 56, the heir to the throne, married his 57-year-old long-time companion, formalising their relationship.
As both were divorced, they could only have a civil rather than a religious marriage. There was controversy as he is due to become supreme governor of the Church of England.
They wed privately in Windsor Guildhall, followed by a religious blessing in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
She became the Duchess of Cornwall.
Victoria of Sweden
June 19, 2010: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling
— The heir to the throne and her former personal trainer married at Stockholm Cathedral in what was billed as Europe’s biggest royal wedding in decades.
She was 32 and he was 36. They married on a traditional Swedish royal wedding date. The royal family and the government split the wedding costs.
An estimated 500,000 people watched the carriage procession. It was the biggest event ever covered on Swedish television.
They have two children.
Britain’s Prince William
April 29, 2011: Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton
— Britain’s biggest royal wedding since that of William’s parents Prince Charles and Diana in 1981, it was watched by up to two billion people worldwide and helped breathe new life into the monarchy.
Britain had a public holiday and William became the Duke of Cambridge.
The future king took his bride for a surprise spin in a classic car afterwards.
They now have two sons and a daughter, including Prince Louis, born on April 23.
Prince Albert II of Monaco
July 1 and 2, 2011: Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock
— The swanky Mediterranean microstate’s sovereign finally tied the knot at 53 with the 33-year-old South African Olympic swimmer.
The civil ceremony in the Prince’s Palace was followed by the religious ceremony a day later in the palace courtyard. The ceremony was partly in Afrikaans.
The wedding dress was designed by Giorgio Armani; The Eagles and Jean-Michel Jarre staged concerts.
The couple had twins in 2014. — AFP