AUDIENCES across the Asia Pacific from Australia to Pakistan tuned in on Saturday night to watch Britain’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and his new wife, former US actress Meghan Markle.
At least 18 million people tuned in to watch in Britain alone, and estimates for worldwide viewership were as high as 1.9 billion according to The Telegraph. The wedding was like no other the royal family has ever staged, a mix of the pageantry that Britain does so well, and celebrity razzmatazz and African-American culture.
The couple held hands throughout, a gospel choir sang “Stand By Me” and US pastor Michael Curry delivered a passionate, lengthy address about the power of love, referencing slavery.
According to the French social media monitoring firm Visibrain, more than 6 million people tweeted about the event, with more than 5.2 million tweets featuring the hashtag #RoyalWedding.
The embroidery of Markle’s veil represented the 53 countries of the Commonwealth – many of which are located in the Asia Pacific including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Malaysia, the Maldives, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Indian celebrity Priyanka Chopra was among the A-listers in attendance at the wedding along with Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, Idris Elba, David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John and Serena Williams.
In India, a group of Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas, or lunch delivery men, chose a traditional sari dress and kurta jacket as wedding gifts for Harry and his bride.
According to the Times of India, they distributed free sweets to the families of hospital patients as a way of “expressing our happiness on the occasion.” At the Gurukul School of Art children painted posters of the royal couple and Queen Elizabeth.
In neighbouring Pakistan, the national flag carrier invited Prince Harry and Princess Meghan to travel to the northern region of the country as the late Princess Diana had done.
We watched the #RoyalWeddding & remembered #PrincessDiana & her trip to the northern areas of Pakistan, & we thought how wonderful it would be for the newly weds to visit our northern splendours as well! So #PrinceHarry & #PrincessMeghan, we are ready, just let us know when! #PIA pic.twitter.com/2aVtnqxeZ4
— PIA (@Official_PIA) May 19, 2018
In Australia, where the British monarch remains the head of state, some pubs were planning wedding parties, while a cinema chain was screening the event live across its network. Viewers were encouraged to come dressed in fun finery, with prizes for the most creative outfits.
In Melbourne, fashion designer Nadia Foti was planning to attend an “English high tea” where guests would wear plastic crowns and enjoy traditional British treats such as scones and the popular summer drink Pimm’s.
“It’s exciting for the fashion and the spectacular,” said Foti. “It’s a joyous occasion and I’ve made a plum cake to celebrate in classic English style.”
According to Channel News Asia, around 300 people turned up to the British Club in Singapore to celebrate the event with a town crier, street food and royal wedding paraphernalia.
As for the couple themselves, they will not be taking a honeymoon immediately. Harry and Meghan will are due to attend a charity garden party for Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
Additional reporting from AFP and Reuters.