Obamas and Trumps not invited to wedding

LONDON • After months of speculation about whether the Obamas or the Trumps would be invited to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle next month, the answer is finally in: Neither.

Neatly sidestepping the issue, Kensington Palace released an opaque statement on Tuesday saying no politicians would be invited to the May 19 wedding at Windsor Castle, not even Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain.

"It has been decided that an official list of political leaders - both UK and international - is not required for Prince Harry and Markle's wedding," it said in a statement.

The lack of "an official list" was interpreted by royals watchers to mean that no invitations would be issued to political leaders.

In deciding to limit the attendees to close friends and family, the couple were characteristically keeping things low-key and breaking with a long tradition of grand British royal weddings attended by world leaders and politicians.

The question of the Obamas versus the Trumps was always a difficult one. It was widely believed that the Obamas had the inside track, after Prince Harry and Mr Obama forged a friendship while attending the Invictus Games in Toronto last year.

At the event, the Prince interviewed the former president for BBC Radio 4's flagship programme, Today, in Mr Obama's first international interview after leaving office in January last year.

Yet, British newspapers reported in December that the royal couple were under great diplomatic pressure to invite the Trumps, despite Markle being a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Downing Street is eager to maintain good relations with the White House, with an eye to negotiating a bilateral trade agreement as quickly as possible after Britain leaves the European Union.

A palace source, speaking on the condition of anonymity following protocol, said Prince Harry and Markle hoped to see the Obamas soon, but confirmed that they would not be attending the wedding.

The source said 600 guests would be invited to the wedding ceremony, based on the size of St George's Chapel, and that it is not necessary for the royal couple to invite world leaders to their wedding because Harry is not a direct heir to the throne.

He is fifth in line after his father, Prince Charles; his brother, Prince William; and his brother's children.

Some world leaders may still be invited to the wedding based on their personal relationship with the royal couple and not in their official capacity, the source added. Harry and Markle have also invited 1,200 members of the public to Windsor Castle to celebrate their marriage.

On Monday, they asked people to donate to charities instead of sending them wedding gifts.

"The couple have chosen charities which represent a range of issues that they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women's empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces," Kensington Palace said.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2018, with the headline 'Obamas and Trumps not invited to wedding'. Print Edition | Subscribe