The royal wedding is expected to be the most watched TV event of 2018 as millions tune in to catch a glimpse of the nuptials – but bets are now on as to whether the couple can beat the record set by Kate and Wills.
TV crews from on Sky One, Sky News, ITV and the BBC News channel will descend on Windsor when Prince Harry marries actress Meghan Markle at 12pm on Saturday.
Millions are expected to tune in but Harry will have his work cut out to beat the 26 million that watched his brother marry Kate Middleton on April 29 2011.
Ten UK channels broadcast Prince William’s wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey between 11am and 12.10pm, according to ratings company Barb.
BBC1’s full wedding day coverage attracted an average audience of 13.6 million, compared with 4.0 million for ITV.
William tied the knot on a Friday, which had also been declared a bank holiday.
Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle will marry at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday as millions of people prepare to tune in for the nuptials
Members of the armed forces during a parade rehearsal in Windsor as preparations take place for the royal wedding on Saturday. Bets are on over whether or not Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle will beat the 26million viewers who tuned in to watch Prince William’s wedding
A record 26million people tuned in to watch Prince William marry the Duchess of Cambridge in April, 2011, while a national bank holiday was declared
Harry is making do with a normal Saturday, and one that coincides with the FA Cup final, so TV audiences may dip.
The last time a royal wedding took place on a Saturday was on April 9 2005, when Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles.
TV cameras were not allowed into Windsor Guildhall to broadcast the ceremony, but a televised service of blessing in St George’s Chapel was broadcast on BBC1 and attracted an audience of 7.4 million.
When Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones on Saturday June 19 1999, both BBC1 and ITV broadcast the ceremony at St George’s Chapel.
The wedding pulled in a combined audience of 14.8 million.
The wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on Wednesday July 23 1986 was watched by an average of 12.5 million on BBC1 – roughly double the number (6.2 million) that chose ITV.
It was a similar story when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on Wednesday July 29 1981.
Royal fans wait to watch members of the armed forces in a parade rehearsal in Windsor, Berkshire ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
An estimated 19.4 million people watched the wedding on BBC1, compared with 9.0 million in ITV – although these figures were calculated under a different ratings system to the one used for subsequent royal weddings.
While Harry and Meghan might not pull in quite so many viewers on Saturday, they have a good chance of topping the ratings for 2018.
The only competition may come in the shape of the World Cup, which begins next month in Russia.
England’s fortunes in the tournament are likely to attract a large audience.
In the 2014 World Cup, 14.7 million watched England lose to Italy in the first round, while 15.0 million watched Germany beat Argentina in the final.
How can you watch the Royal Wedding live on Saturday?
The MailOnline armchair guide to the royal wedding on Saturday…
Live coverage of the day’s events at Windsor Castle by the BBC will be presented by Kirsty Young, Huw Edwards and Dermot O’Leary among others.
Julie Etchingham and Phillip Schofield will lead ITV’s coverage.
Sky News is screening the proceedings in ultra high definition with Kay Burley presenting from a special studio on the Long Walk.
Members of the public who have been invited to watch the wedding day from the grounds of Windsor Castle begin to arrive.
Wedding guests begin arriving at the castle’s famous Round Tower by coach. They will enter St George’s Chapel through the South Door and take their seats.
Guests will be arriving at the Round Tower at Windsor Castle by coach and will be seen walking to the South Door of St George’s Chapel from 9.30am. The tower was closed to visitors in 1975 for major construction work and was under-pinned to prevent subsidence, but instead of reopening to visitors, it was later converted into office space for the Royal Archives in 2011
The Quire in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, where the royal wedding will be held on May 19. The magnificent Quire was the first part of St George’s Chapel to be completed and its aisles were finished and roofed between 1477 and 1483
Kensington Palace is not releasing a full official guest list. Some 600 guests will be in St George’s and 200 of those will party into the night at the reception in nearby Frogmore House following the ceremony in the Quire, pictured
Members of the Royal Family begin arriving, entering via the Galilee Porch, some on foot and others by car.
Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge are expected to appear at the Chapel’s West Steps, probably on foot, walking past the thousands of spectators invited into the grounds of the castle.
This will give Harry an opportunity to acknowledge the 200 representatives from charities he is associated with gathered in the Horseshoe Cloister at the bottom of the steps.
Following protocol, the Queen will be the last member of the Royal Family to arrive.
Following protocol, the Queen will be the last member of the Royal Family to arrive at around 11.55am. The service will start at noon and everyone will already know most of what to expect as the order of service is being released at midnight on Friday. Her Majesty is pictured left at garden party on Tuesday and right attending the first day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show
At 1pm, the congregation will file out of the chapel to see the newlyweds leave before heading to St George’s Hall for the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen. Her Majesty is pictured with the Earl of Wessex and the Duke of York at a garden party on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace
With a minute to go, Meghan Markle is expected to turn up at the Chapel’s West Steps by car, from her overnight accommodation, with some of her bridesmaids and pageboys.
She will start her journey, which will take her past some of the crowds in the Long Walk, with her mother Doria Ragland – but when the car stops at the castle her mother will exchange places with her bridesmaids and pageboys, including Princess Charlotte and Prince George. Ms Ragland will enter the chapel by the Galilee Porch.
Meghan Markle’s journey through Windsor will take her past some of the crowds in the Long Walk as she is accompanied by her mother Doria before she exchanges places with Meghan’s bridesmaids and pageboys, including Princess Charlotte and Prince George
The service starts. Everyone will already know most of what to expect as the order of service is being released at midnight on Friday.
The newlyweds will emerge about an hour later at the West Steps of the Chapel. They will be waved off on their carriage procession through Windsor by members of both families.
The congregation will file out of the chapel to see the newlyweds leave before heading to St George’s Hall for the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen.
The carriage procession through the streets of Windsor is expected to take about 25 minutes.
The congregation will file out of the chapel to see the newlyweds leave before heading to St George’s Hall for the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen
The reception is not being televised and neither is the evening reception at Frogmore House, but viewers will get another glimpse of the royal couple when they leave Windsor Castle at 7pm for the evening do, which is hosted by the Prince of Wales.