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

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 That rather outdated rule was changed in 2013; now, only the first six royals in line for the throne need QEII's OK.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.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Is the American Flag Displayed Backwards on Military Uniforms?
iStock
iStock

In 1968, famed activist Abbie Hoffman decided to crash a meeting of the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington by showing up in a shirt depicting the American flag. Hoffman was quickly surrounded by police, who ripped his shirt off and arrested him for desecration of the Red, White, and Blue.

Hoffman’s arrest is notable today because, while it might be unpatriotic to some, wearing the American flag, burning it, or otherwise disrespecting it is not a violation of any federal law. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that it would be unconstitutional to prosecute any such action. Still, Americans have very fervent and strict attitudes toward displaying the flag, a longstanding symbol of our country’s freedom. According to the U.S. Flag Code, which was first published in 1923, you shouldn’t let the flag touch the ground or hang it upside-down. While there’s no express prohibition about reversing the image, it’s probably a safe bet you shouldn’t do that, either.

Yet branches of the U.S. military are often spotted with a seeming mirror reflection of the flag on their right shoulder. If you look at a member in profile, the canton—the rectangle with the stars—is on the right. Isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t it look like the flag on the left shoulder?

The American flag appears on a military uniform
iStock

Not really. The flag is actually facing forward, and it’s not an optical illusion.

When a service member marches or walks forward, they assume the position of a flagpole, with the flag sewn on their uniform meant to resemble a flag flapping in the breeze. With the canton on the right, the flag would be fluttering behind them. If it were depicted with the canton on the left, the flag would be flying backward—as though it had been hung by the stripes instead of the stars nearest to the pole. The position of the flag is noted in Army Regulation 670-1, mandating the star field should face forward. The official term for this depiction is “reverse side flag.”

As for Hoffman: His conviction was overturned on appeal. In 1970, while at a flag-themed art show in New York, he was invited to get up and speak. He wore a flag shirt for the occasion.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
What Causes Sinkholes?
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

This week, a sinkhole opened up on the White House lawn—likely the result of excess rainfall on the "legitimate swamp" surrounding the storied building, a geologist told The New York Times. While the event had some suggesting we call for Buffy's help, sinkholes are pretty common. In the past few days alone, cavernous maws in the earth have appeared in Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, and of course Florida, home to more sinkholes than any other state.

Sinkholes have gulped down suburban homes, cars, and entire fields in the past. How does the ground just open up like that?

Sinkholes are a simple matter of cause and effect. Urban sinkholes may be directly traced to underground water main breaks or collapsed sewer pipelines, into which city sidewalks crumple in the absence of any structural support. In more rural areas, such catastrophes might be attributed to abandoned mine shafts or salt caverns that can't take the weight anymore. These types of sinkholes are heavily influenced by human action, but most sinkholes are unpredictable, inevitable natural occurrences.

Florida is so prone to sinkholes because it has the misfortune of being built upon a foundation of limestone—solid rock, but the kind that is easily dissolved by acidic rain or groundwater. The karst process, in which the mildly acidic water wears away at fractures in the limestone, leaves empty space where there used to be stone, and even the residue is washed away. Any loose soil, grass, or—for example—luxury condominiums perched atop the hole in the ground aren't left with much support. Just as a house built on a weak foundation is more likely to collapse, the same is true of the ground itself. Gravity eventually takes its toll, aided by natural erosion, and so the hole begins to sink.

About 10 percent of the world's landscape is composed of karst regions. Despite being common, sinkholes' unforeseeable nature serves as proof that the ground beneath our feet may not be as solid as we think.

A version of this story originally ran in 2014.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios