For royal weddings and normal-person weddings of ages past, it was tradition that the bride be walked down the aisle by her father. These days, many brides are choosing instead to have mothers, siblings, or other important figures in their lives escort them—though the tradition certainly lingers longer in some circles. Particularly, of course, royal circles, where even a slight deviation from what’s normally done is guaranteed to make headlines.
But while Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have said they think wedding traditions are “very important,” she isn’t one to stick to by-the-book royal expectations (messy bun, anyone?). And when it comes time to walk down the aisle at the royal wedding on Saturday, May 19, she’ll be breaking from tradition in not one but two ways.
As announced earlier today, Prince Charles will be escorting Markle down the aisle at her wedding. Her father was originally supposed to, but he’s recovering from heart surgery—after a lot of drama went down—and can’t make the nuptials. The switch is tradition-breaking, but not entirely unprecedented. Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, walked down the aisle with her brother-in-law Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, when she married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. And Queen Victoria gave away some of her daughters at their weddings following the death of Prince Albert.
The real tradition broken here, it turns out, is that her stroll with Charles will happen during the second part of her walk, according to CNN. For the first part, she’s walking alone.
According to CNN, Markle will walk down the nave of St. George’s Chapel unescorted. (The nave, architecturally—and very loosely—is the part between the doors and the transept, the bit that traditionally runs perpendicular/crosswise to the rest of the building to form a cross shape.) She’ll be behind her bridesmaids and pageboys, and there will be a “senior clergy member” leading the group. Notably, there won’t be anyone taking her arm. Here’s a view of the nave:
She’ll continue alone until she gets to the choir (or quire), the part right after the transept but before the sanctuary, which is where the altar (and usually the groom, a.k.a. Harry!) are. At that point is when Charles will take her arm. He’ll “stand back” as she approaches Harry.
To give you an idea, here’s a view of the quire where Charles will meet Meghan:
The absence of her dad, by the way, hasn’t changed her plan to walk alone: According to CNN, he was always going to meet her where Charles will now. This is reportedly her own idea: Markle is, after all, a woman who has worked hard to carve out her path in life. If she wants to walk alone, that’s a wonderful way to celebrate her accomplishments as a modern, independent woman.