Royal Weddings

Portrait of a royal marriage: What wedding photos can tell you about a couple's relationship

As Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official wedding photos are released, Hannah Furness analyses what they can reveal about a relationship

It captures four generations of the royal family in the gilded surroundings of Windsor Castle, recording for the history books the moment Meghan Markle entered the British royal family on the arm of her Prince.

As the world has come to expect from the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, though, they brought their own unique style to their official wedding photographs.

In the splendour of Windsor Castle’s Green Room, Britain's Queen and her descendants gathered just an hour after the wedding service on Saturday, for a series of images that captured both the importance of the occasion and the joy of a smitten couple.

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With Britain's Prince Philip (96) on one side, and a beaming Prince George (4), on the other, playful bridesmaids and pageboys scatter cross-legged on the floor.

The bride, radiant at the very centre of the photograph, is flanked by the two pillars in her life: her new husband and her mother, Doria Ragland.

Doria, the only member of the Meghan’s family who attended the wedding, stands proudly at the heart of the newly-joined family, praised for her dignity and grace on an emotional wedding day.

The photograph is a striking contrast to even the most recent royal wedding, abandoning the formal lined-up pose chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton for their 2011 photographs. Instead, the newlyweds opt for an artfully arranged bridal party comprising 10 children, ushered into position around the Queen, which could have come straight from the pages of Vogue.

A second image shows Harry and Meghan sitting on low stools with the children, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte who had clearly been practising their smiles for the camera. The third, featuring just the bride and groom, is shot in black and white, capturing the moment they could finally relax in the privacy of the castle after their very public wedding.

The picture echoes the luxe style of the couple’s official engagement photographs.

Wedding photos can offer a glimpse into a relationship, and the newlyweds seem besotted in their official shots — Harry beaming with his hand resting affectionately on Meghan’s arm. The couple expressed a freedom within their portrait, laying casually across the steps of Windsor Castle. Set in black and white, Meghan relaxes without her veil, while her attention is drawn out of shot off to her left, lending the photo an almost candid quality.

William and Kate, by contrast, adhered to much more formal stance, maintaining a pose traditional to the royal couple portrait. Standing together in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace, the shot looks almost identical to the hold they encountered in their group portrait.

To chronicle the big day, William and Kate chose Hugo Burnand, the long-time photographer for high society magazine Tatler’s party pages, and who had also been trusted with commissions for the royal family, including Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’ wedding photos.

Harry and Meghan, however, opted for Alexi Lubomirski, a New York-based photographer who frequently works with Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, and has taken portraits of the likes of Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts — not to mention the 2016 Harper’s Bazaar cover shoot that saw Gwyneth Paltrow shopping for groceries in lingerie. He also shot Harry and Meghan’s glamorous engagement photos at Frogmore House.

The official wedding images span the generations of the royal family, with the Queen and all three of her heirs captured smiling, and 95 years, from Prince Philip, who turns 97 next month, to two-year-old bridesmaid Zalie Warren. The 10 children, full of beans after the wedding, were kept in line by palace aides, as the bride and groom stand serenely in the middle.

Although the finished photographs are fresh in their composition, they do contain key elements of the classic official royal photograph. In the most formal picture of the whole family, Meghan honours the Queen with the prominent display of her five-metre-long veil, arranged across the carpet and embroidered with 53 flowers representing each Commonwealth country so close to the monarch’s heart. Her father-in-law, Prince Charles, stands next to his son.

Prince William, the best man, appears on the other side, in his frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals, while Kate Middleton holds a placid Princess Charlotte on her knee. Prince George, who will one day be king, has been given his own gilded chair, smiling confidently for posterity after a series of shy public appearances recently.

Harry, beaming with pride, stands behind his wife, allowing her to shine. Meghan’s mother Doria is given the most prominent position, her outfit coordinating with the Queen and coincidentally matching the decor of the Green Room. The proud mother will soon return to her full-time job as a social worker in Los Angeles after what has proved a whirlwind week with the royal family.

She is said to have been warmly welcomed by the family, and is now expected to make regular visits to see her daughter and son-in-law at Kensington Palace.

Of course, not everything on the photoshoot went perfectly to plan. One bridesmaid, Meghan’s goddaughter Remi Litt, appears to have pulled a flower out of her bouquet, while Zalie was absorbed in something more interesting off camera.