London (AFP) – Britain got a glimpse Saturday at Queen Elizabeth II’s elaborate formal consent for her grandson Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle, a week ahead of the wedding ceremony.
The Instrument of Consent, intricately hand-written on vellum and illuminated with decorations, sets out the monarch’s approval for the union, which is required in law.
Harry is sixth in line to the throne and the first six need the sovereign’s permission to marry, otherwise they and their descendants are disqualified from inheriting the crown.
Buckingham Palace released pictures of the document, which Queen Elizabeth signed in March. In her Elizabeth R signature at the top, the the R stands for regina, the Latin for queen.
The instrument is written using the “royal we”, or majestic plural.
It states: “Now know ye that we have consented and do by these presents signify our consent to the contracting of matrimony between our most dearly beloved grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales KCVO and Rachel Meghan Markle.”
KCVO refers to Harry’s status as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, which recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch.
The document, which will be presented to the couple after the wedding, is flanked with artwork representing the bride and groom.
To the left, the design incorporates a red dragon — the heraldic symbol of Wales — along with the UK’s floral emblems: the rose of England, Scotland’s thistle and the Irish shamrock.
It also features Harry’s label, which includes three tiny red escallops from the Spencer arms of his mother Diana, princess of Wales’ family.
The design on the right, for Markle, includes a rose — the national flower of the United States — flanked by two golden poppies: the state flower of California, where the former actress was born.
It also bears the Welsh leek, Harry’s label and olive branches adopted from the Great Seal of the United States.
The document depicts Harry’s coronet and the Commonwealth flag.
Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Commonwealth and last month made Harry her youth ambassador to the 53-country organisation.
The instrument is sealed with the Great Seal of the Realm, used to symbolise the sovereign’s approval of important state documents.
– Law to protect dynasty –
The Royal Marriages Act 1772 required descendants of king George II to seek the sovereign’s consent before they wed, otherwise their marriages were deemed invalid.
The law was repealed by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, under which only the first six in line to inherit the throne need the monarch’s permission.
The first five are currently Prince Charles, the monarch’s eldest son; his eldest son Prince William; his eldest son Prince George; then William’s other children Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Harry, Charles’s second son, was fifth at the time of his engagement in November. His nephew Louis was born on April 23.
Harry is the first to receive consent under the new law.