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Millions of royal fans watched as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said “I do” at their fairytale wedding at St George’s Chapel in 2018.
There was a lot that stood out, including the Duchess of Sussex’s minimalist silk wedding dress.
But there was something else worth highlighting: the Rolls-Royce that the bride had chosen to take to the ceremony.
The maroon Phantom IV, which transported Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland from Cliveden House Hotel to St George’s Chapel, was beautiful in its own right and had quite a unique history.
It had been used just as it had been 46 years earlier to convey another American divorcee, the Duchess of Windsor, until the funeral of her husband, the Duke, in 1972.
Pictured: Meghan Markle arriving for her wedding to Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018
Pictured: Meghan and her mother, Doria Ragland, driven along the Long Walk in the maroon Rolls-Royce Phantom IV as they arrive for her wedding ceremony
Pictured: Wallis, center, is driven to the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Windsor, in 1972
Was there anything important about the choice? The Duchess of Windsor, a figure at the center of the abdication crisis, can hardly have been a welcome comparison.
The Daily Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare asked if it was perhaps a joke in deplorably bad taste.
And why would courtiers or assistants want to play such a ‘joke’?
The answer could lie in the widely reported tensions before the wedding itself, with Harry and Meghan described as ‘acting like teenagers’ in Valentine Low’s book Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind The Throne.
Only 18 Phantom IVs were built by Rolls-Royce from 1950 to 1956. Other models are in museums and other public collections.
It was built and delivered to the Queen in 1950, when she was still Princess Elizabeth.
Pictured: The Duchess of Windsor followed by the Queen Mother at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Windsor, at St Georges’ Chapel, in 1972
Many wondered at the time whether the official’s choice was deliberate, given the comparisons between the women
The Duchess of Windsor remained a controversial figure until her death in 1986.
Edward VIII’s short reign came to an end with his abdication in 1936, after Stanley Baldwin’s government told him in no uncertain terms that he would not be allowed to marry a divorced woman and remain king.
He made a broadcast saying he couldn’t do the king’s job “without the help and support of the woman I love” – the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.
The couple married on 3 June 1937 at the Château de Candé in the Loire Valley, but no senior members of the royal family were present.
They became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
His departure forced his younger brother, the Duke of York, to abdicate and become King George VI, creating a family wound that never healed.
The Queen Mother is said to blame both the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for tearing the family apart and driving George VI to an early death.
The Duchess of Windsor leaves St George’s Chapel after her husband’s funeral in 1972
Once freed from the burden of responsibility, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived the life of the idle rich.