How Do You Get an Invite to the Royal Wedding?

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images

If you haven't yet received your invitation to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's probably safe to assume it's not coming. (Stop telling yourself it got lost in the mail.)

But don't feel bad. Getting invited to one of the biggest weddings of the decade is no easy feat. For starters, the guest list is much smaller than the list for Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 nuptials at Westminster Abbey. Harry and Meghan will be saying "I do" at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, which only holds about 800 guests, compared to the Abbey's capacity of 2000. And a good number of those seats—530, to be exact—will be taken by the vast network of royal relatives who are automatically in, from first cousins Zara Tindall and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, to Lady Gabriella Windsor, who is 50th in the line of succession to the throne.

Then there are the many celebrities who have become friends with the royals over the years. Elton John, a confidante of William and Harry's mother, Princess Diana, seems like a shoo-in. David and Victoria Beckham have become quite friendly with both of the Windsor princes over the years and are expected to be in attendance. Musicians Ed Sheeran, the other four Spice Girls, and Sam Smith are also rumored to have received the coveted invites. And because Markle is a celeb in her own right, we can also expect some star power sitting on her side of the aisle: Her good friends include tennis star Serena Williams, actress Priyanka Chopra, and many of her co-stars on Suits.

While celebrity attendees make up a decent portion of the guest list, you won't find many politicians filling the pews. Because Harry isn't as likely an heir to the throne as William, Her Majesty's government has officially declared that the wedding is not considered a state event. This means the happy couple doesn't have to extend an invite to politicians as an act of diplomacy; British Prime Minister Theresa May didn't make the exclusive guest list, much less foreign leaders, like the Trumps.

However, even though Harry's wedding isn't considered a state affair, the union still required the Queen's blessing. For centuries, every royal family member required the sovereign's blessing to wed. That rather outdated rule was changed in 2013; now, only the first six royals in line for the throne need QEII's OK. These days, Harry is sixth in line—his ranking fell last month when his nephew Prince Louis entered the picture.

Here's another reason to feel better about your missing invite: Some guests aren't even allowed a plus one. According to Town & Country, certain invitations were addressed to just one half of a married couple. The reason, they speculate, is because the single invitees are likely professional acquaintances as opposed to social ones. For example, if an invitee is a contact from one of the various charities Harry and Meghan support, those guests are representing their organizations, not their families.

Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, sign autographs and shake hands with children as they arrive to a walkabout at Cardiff Castle on January 18, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales.
Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, sign autographs and shake hands with children as they arrive to a walkabout at Cardiff Castle on January 18, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales.
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

In addition to the 800 guests inside of the church, more than 2000 members of the public have been invited to stand on the grounds outside and watch the royal processional. According to the official announcement, Harry and Meghan "want their wedding day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too." Of course, space inside the chapel is limited, so allowing the public on the grounds is the best way to include them in the festivities. But even the public guest list is fairly exclusive—each invitee has been carefully vetted. Approximately 1200 of them have been chosen for their service to the community, 200 are affiliated with Harry and Meghan's charities, 100 are students from local schools, and 610 are Windsor Castle community members.

If you didn't make any of the guest lists, don't worry. Networks NBC, PBS, CBS, BBC America, and E! all cordially invite you to view it from the comfort of your living room—no tuxedos or fascinators required.

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Why Are We So Scared of Clowns?

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

With the recent box office-smashing success of Stephen King's It, it’s safe to say that coulrophobia (fear of clowns) isn’t a fringe phenomenon. The colorful circus performers are right up there with vampires and werewolves on the list of iconic horror villains. But unlike other movie monsters, clowns were originally meant to make kids laugh, not hide under their beds in terror. So what is it about clowns that taps into our deepest fears?

According to Yale doctoral candidate Danielle Bainbridge, the unsettling clown stereotype goes back centuries. In the inaugural episode of the PBS digital series Origin of Everything, Bainbridge explained the long history of this pervasive part of our culture.

Before clowns wore floppy shoes and threw pies at each other’s faces, early versions of the performers could be found in royal courts. The court jester wasn’t evil, but he was the only person in the kingdom who could poke fun at the monarch without fear of (literally) losing his head. The fact that fools didn’t fall within the normal social hierarchy may have contributed to the future role clowns would play as untrustworthy outsiders.

From the medieval era, clowns evolved into the harlequins of 16th-century Italian theater. Again, these weren’t bloodthirsty monsters, but they weren’t exactly kid-friendly either. The characters were often mischievous and morally bankrupt, and their strange costumes and masks only added to the creepy vibes they gave off.

Fast-forward to the 19th century, when the white-faced circus clowns we know today started gaining popularity. Unlike the jesters and harlequins that came before them, these clowns performed primarily for children and maintained a wholesome image. But as pop culture in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s showed us, that old perception we had of clowns as nefarious troublemakers never really went away. Steven King’s It, the cult classic Killer Clowns From Outer Space (1988), and that scene from Poltergeist (1982) all combined these original fears with the more modern association of clowns with children. That formula gave us one of the most frightening figures in horror media today.

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Why Do We Call a Leg Cramp a Charley Horse?

iStock.com/Jan-Otto
iStock.com/Jan-Otto

If you’re unlucky enough to have experienced a charley horse—a painful muscle spasm or cramp in your leg—then you may have found yourself wondering what this nonsensical phrase even means. Who is this Charley character? Where did he come from? And what does he know about my pain?

Like the words flaky and jazz, this term likely entered the language from the baseball field. While the idiom’s etymology isn’t 100 percent certain, archived newspaper articles suggest it was coined by a baseball player in the 1880s. We just don’t know which player said it first, or why.

According to a January 1887 article in the Democrat and Chronicle, the phrase was well-known to baseball players at the time—but to the average person, charley horses were as enigmatic as “an Egyptian hieroglyphic.” That year, charley horses were mentioned in a slew of newspapers across America, and some attempted to tackle the phrase’s murky origin. “Nearly every sporting journal gives a different version as to how the term charley horse originated in baseball circles,” the Oakland Daily Evening Tribune reported at the time.

The likeliest tale, according to the paper, centered around John Wesley "Jack" Glasscock, a shortstop who at the time was playing for Indianapolis. At some point a few years earlier, the player had strained a tendon in his thigh during a game and afterwards went home to his farm, where his father looked after a lame old horse called a "Charley horse." When the senior Glasscock saw his son limping along, he reportedly exclaimed, “Why, John, my boy, what is the matter; you go just like the old Charley horse?” John supposedly shared the funny turn of phrase with his teammates, and from there it spread. Similar accounts were reported in other newspapers, but they were attributed to various other players.

Other reports say the phrase has nothing to do with a live animal, but rather the fact that an injured player, while running, resembles a rocking horse or a child riding astride a wooden hobby horse.

The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary by Paul Dickson details a few other theories. In two versions of the same basic tale, Orioles or Chicago Cubs players went to the races and bet on a horse named Charlie who "pulled up lame in the final stretch." The next day, a player pulled a tendon in his leg and was said to resemble “our old Charlie horse.”

Alternatively, its origin may relate to an old workhorse that was tasked with pulling a roller across the infield. “Often in the 1800s, old workhorses kept on the grounds of ballparks were called Charley. The movements of the injured, stiff-legged ballplayers were likened to the labored plodding of these old horses, and the injury itself eventually became known as a ‘charley’ or ‘charley horse,'" Tim Considine wrote in 1982's The Language of Sport.

It also appears that charley horse originally implied a much more serious injury—or perhaps there was a bit of hysteria surrounding a condition that seemed new and scary in the late 19th century. The Democrat and Chronicle described a charley horse as a “giving way of one of the small tendons of the leg” and said an injured baseball player might need an entire season to recover. Another article from 1887 said ballplayer George Van Haltren’s relatives were worried he would get a charley horse, “although they do not know what that is.” He was said to have been “very fortunate” because he had “not yet encountered the terrible charley horse.”

For comparison, Healthline.com now says charley horses “are generally treatable at home” by stretching, massaging, or icing the afflicted area, although the muscle pain can linger for up to a day in some cases. So there you have it. We may never know the exact etymology of the charley horse, but the next time you get a sharp pain in your leg, you can thank an old-timey ballplayer for making your struggle sound so silly.

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