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Tour the beautiful St. George’s Chapel before the Royal Wedding (PHOTOS)



Cerith Gardiner - published on 05/17/18

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in the historic, originally Catholic, chapel this Saturday.

This Saturday, May 19, an impressive 2 billion people round the globe are expected to tune in to the royal wedding, according to ABC News in Australia. While many people will be admiring Meghan Markle’s wedding dress and the usual pomp and ceremony surrounding such an occasion, many eyes will be drawn to the beautiful 500-year-old St. George’s Chapel that stands on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

To call the impressive Gothic edifice a chapel feels a bit of an understatement. St. George’s chapel is more on the “cozy” side for such a royal event, holding just 800 people, compared to the weddings of Harry’s brother William to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey, which seats 2,000, or his father Prince Charles’s marriage to Princess Diana at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which can welcome an impressive 3,500 guests.

Yet, the royal wedding gives us a rare opportunity to see this place of worship in all its glory.

A chapel steeped in history


The chapel, located in the quaint town of Windsor, 22 miles from central London, was established in the 14th century under the reign of the Catholic king Edward III, when he founded St. George’s religious college at Windsor. The royal chapel underwent much work and expansion over the following centuries and was only completed when Henry VIII, the Tudor king renowned for his rejection of the Catholic Church and for his six wives, came to the throne. In fact the infamous king is buried in the chapel alongside his third and most beloved wife, Jane Seymour, who died in childbirth.

The Garter Service


The “Royal Peculiar,” a church under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, is also the Mother Church of the Order of the Garter — the most distinguished British order of chivalry, dedicated to the English patron saint, St. George. The Order was founded by Edward III, who was so impressed with the legendary King Arthur and his knights of the round table that he decided to create his own version. The order is still going strong today and the 25 members, who are solely appointed by the Queen herself, gather each June for a Garter Service in the chapel dressed in their fine vestments and insignia which date back centuries — imagine floppy caps with feathers and long black cloaks.

The chapel choir

saint George's cathedral
David Herraez Calzada | Shutterstock

The chapel choir is not actually for the sweet dulcet tones of choristers. In fact the knights or ladies of the Order of the Garter are given a stall in the chapel choir, where their heraldic devices — such as swords, brass stall plates, and banners — are displayed. On the death of a knight or lady, the devices are all removed, apart from the stall plates, and another member is appointed. If you visit the chapel you can see the stalls colorfully covered in the banners of the current members and the plates of all the members, past and present.

Stunning interior details

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The detail inside the chapel is stunning but you might not be able to see it all during the royal wedding. If you take a virtual tour on the Chapel’s website, you can see the oriel window where Henry VIII’s first wife, the devout Spanish Catholic, Katherine of Aragon, could watch Mass held in the Quire. You’ll also be able to spot the imposing Sovereign’s Stall. In the nave — with its impressive vaults — you’ll be able to see the stunning West Window, made up of 75 lights, with the majority dating back pre-1509.

The Queen’s Beasts

Once outside the chapel, if you look up to the roof and sides, you’ll be able to spot 76 Queen’s Beasts fixed atop the pinnacles, representing 14 heraldic animals. Although they only date back to 1925 when the chapel was restored, they are replicas of the originals created in the 16th century, true to the Gothic style of the time and reminiscent of those gargoyles on the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.

A working chapel

While the chapel may be on royal grounds, it is open every day for services — apart from on special occasions such as royal marriages or funerals. With many to choose from, St. George’s is a popular choice of religious venues within the royal family, and was also the chapel where Prince Harry was baptized in 1984. With 10 British monarchs already buried in the chapel, among many other royals, and with Windsor Castle being the Queen’s principal residence, it is also the proposed burial place for Queen Elizabeth II.


Read more:
Meghan Markle baptized and confirmed in private chapel

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