How Do You Get an Invite to the Royal Wedding?

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images

If you haven't yet received your invitation to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's probably safe to assume it's not coming. (Stop telling yourself it got lost in the mail.)

But don't feel bad. Getting invited to one of the biggest weddings of the decade is no easy feat. For starters, the guest list is much smaller than the list for Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 nuptials at Westminster Abbey. Harry and Meghan will be saying "I do" at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, which only holds about 800 guests, compared to the Abbey's capacity of 2000. And a good number of those seats—530, to be exact—will be taken by the vast network of royal relatives who are automatically in, from first cousins Zara Tindall and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, to Lady Gabriella Windsor, who is 50th in the line of succession to the throne.

Then there are the many celebrities who have become friends with the royals over the years. Elton John, a confidante of William and Harry's mother, Princess Diana, seems like a shoo-in. David and Victoria Beckham have become quite friendly with both of the Windsor princes over the years and are expected to be in attendance. Musicians Ed Sheeran, the other four Spice Girls, and Sam Smith are also rumored to have received the coveted invites. And because Markle is a celeb in her own right, we can also expect some star power sitting on her side of the aisle: Her good friends include tennis star Serena Williams, actress Priyanka Chopra, and many of her co-stars on Suits.

While celebrity attendees make up a decent portion of the guest list, you won't find many politicians filling the pews. Because Harry isn't as likely an heir to the throne as William, Her Majesty's government has officially declared that the wedding is not considered a state event. This means the happy couple doesn't have to extend an invite to politicians as an act of diplomacy; British Prime Minister Theresa May didn't make the exclusive guest list, much less foreign leaders, like the Trumps.

However, even though Harry's wedding isn't considered a state affair, the union still required the Queen's blessing. For centuries, every royal family member required the sovereign's blessing to wed. That rather outdated rule was changed in 2013; now, only the first six royals in line for the throne need QEII's OK. These days, Harry is sixth in line—his ranking fell last month when his nephew Prince Louis entered the picture.

Here's another reason to feel better about your missing invite: Some guests aren't even allowed a plus one. According to Town & Country, certain invitations were addressed to just one half of a married couple. The reason, they speculate, is because the single invitees are likely professional acquaintances as opposed to social ones. For example, if an invitee is a contact from one of the various charities Harry and Meghan support, those guests are representing their organizations, not their families.

Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, sign autographs and shake hands with children as they arrive to a walkabout at Cardiff Castle on January 18, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales.
Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, sign autographs and shake hands with children as they arrive to a walkabout at Cardiff Castle on January 18, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales.
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

In addition to the 800 guests inside of the church, more than 2000 members of the public have been invited to stand on the grounds outside and watch the royal processional. According to the official announcement, Harry and Meghan "want their wedding day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too." Of course, space inside the chapel is limited, so allowing the public on the grounds is the best way to include them in the festivities. But even the public guest list is fairly exclusive—each invitee has been carefully vetted. Approximately 1200 of them have been chosen for their service to the community, 200 are affiliated with Harry and Meghan's charities, 100 are students from local schools, and 610 are Windsor Castle community members.

If you didn't make any of the guest lists, don't worry. Networks NBC, PBS, CBS, BBC America, and E! all cordially invite you to view it from the comfort of your living room—no tuxedos or fascinators required.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Could an Astronaut Steal a Rocket and Lift Off, Without Mission Control?

iStock
iStock

C Stuart Hardwick:

Not with any rocket that has ever thus far carried a person into orbit from Earth, no. Large rockets are complex, their launch facilities are complex, their trajectories are complex, and the production of their propellants is complex.

Let me give you one simple example:

  • Let’s say astro-Sally is the last woman on Earth, and is fully qualified to fly the Saturn-V.
  • Further, let’s say the Rapture (which as I understand it, is some sort of hip-hop induced global catastrophe that liquefies all the people) has left a Saturn-V sitting on the pad, raring to go.
  • Further, let’s grant that, given enough time, astro-Sally can locate sufficient documentation to operate the several dozen controls needed to pump the first stage propellant tanks full of kerosene.
  • Now what? Oxidizer, right? Wrong. First, she has to attend to the batteries, oxygen, hydrogen, and helium pressurant tanks in her spacecraft, otherwise it’s going to be a short, final flight. And she’ll need to fill the hypergolics for the spacecraft propulsion and maneuvering systems. If she screws that up, the rocket will explode with her crawling on it. If she gets a single drop of either of these on her skin or in her lungs, she’ll die.
  • But okay, maybe all the hypergolics were already loaded (not safe, but possible) and assume she manages to get the LOX, H2, and HE tanks ready without going Hindenburg all over the Cape.
  • And…let’s just say Hermione Granger comes back from the Rapture to work that obscure spell, propellantus preparum.
  • All set, right? Well, no. See, before any large rocket can lift off, the water quench system must be in operation. Lift off without it, and the sound pressure generated by the engines will bounce off the pad, cave in the first stage, and cause 36 stories of rocket to go “boom.”
  • So she searches the blockhouse and figures out how to turn on the water quench system, then hops in the director’s Tesla (why not?) and speeds out to the pad, jumps in the lift, starts up the gantry—and the water quench system runs out of water ... Where’d she think that water comes from? Fairies? No, it comes from a water tower—loaded with an ample supply for a couple of launch attempts. Then it must be refilled.

Now imagine how much harder this would all be with the FBI on your tail.

Can a rocket be built that’s simple enough and automated enough to be susceptible to theft? Sure. Have we done so? Nope. The Soyuz is probably the closest—being highly derived from an ICBM designed to be “easy” to launch, but even it’s really not very close.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

What Causes Red Tides?

William West/AFP/Getty Images
William West/AFP/Getty Images

Every once in a while, the ocean turns the color of blood and scores of dead fish rise to the surface. The phenomenon might look like a biblical plague, but the source is far more mundane. It's just algae.

Red tides occur when there’s a sudden population boom among specific kinds of algae, which in enormous quantities become visible to the naked eye. They occur all over the world. In the Gulf of Mexico, the culprit behind red tides washing onto coastlines from Texas to Florida is usually a type of microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. It produces toxic chemicals that can cause symptoms ranging from sneezing and eye irritation to disorientation, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. It's often fatal for fish, shellfish, turtles, and other wildlife.

The water appears red because of the particular depth at which the algae live. Light waves don’t penetrate seawater evenly, and certain wavelengths travel farther than others. The algae that cause red tides grow at depths that absorb green and blue frequencies of light and reflect red ones.

Not all algal blooms are red; some are blue, green, brown, or even purple. Nor do all algae harm humans or animals. Why and how certain species of algae multiply like crazy and wipe out entire swaths of marine life is still a scientific mystery.

The worst red tide on record occurred in 1946, when a mass of algae stretching for 150 miles along the Florida coastline killed more than 50 million fish, along with hundreds of dolphins and sea turtles. Tourists shied away from the beaches as the bodies of dead sea creatures washed ashore. Smaller incidents are more common, but just as costly. In the past decade alone, fishing and tourism industries in the United States have had an estimated $1 billion in losses due to red tides—and the cost is expected to rise.

Editor's note: This story, which originally ran in 2015, was updated in August 2018.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios