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 That rather outdated rule was changed in 2013; now, only the first six royals in line for the throne need QEII's OK.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.

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What's the Difference Between Straw and Hay?

iStock.com/dusipuffi
iStock.com/dusipuffi

The words straw and hay are often used interchangeably, and it's easy to see why: They're both dry, grassy, and easy to find on farms in the fall. But the two terms actual describe different materials, and once you know what to look for, it's easy to tell the difference between them.

Hay refers to grasses and some legumes such as alfalfa that are grown for use as animal feed. The full plant is harvested—including the heads, leaves, and stems—dried, and typically stored in bales. Hay is what livestock like cattle eat when there isn't enough pasture to go around, or when the weather gets too cold for them to graze. The baled hay most non-farmers are familiar with is dry and yellow, but high-quality hay has more of a greenish hue.

The biggest difference between straw and hay is that straw is the byproduct of crops, not the crop itself. When a plant, such as wheat or barley, has been stripped of its seeds or grains, the stalk is sometimes saved and dried to make straw. This part of the plant is lacking in nutrients, which means it doesn't make great animal fodder. But farmers have found other uses for the material throughout history: It what's used to weave baskets, thatch roofs, and stuff mattresses.

Today, straw is commonly used to decorate pumpkin-picking farms. It's easy to identify (if it's being used in a way that would be wasteful if it were food, chances are it's straw), but even the farms themselves can confuse the two terms. Every hayride you've ever taken, for example, was most likely a straw-ride.

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

How and Why Did Silent Letters Emerge in English?

iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr
iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr

Kory Stamper:

The easy answer is “"because English can’t leave well enough alone."

When we first started speaking English around 600 AD, it was totally phonetic: every letter had a sound, and we sounded every letter in a word. But English—and England itself—were influenced quite a bit by the French, who conquered the island in 1066 and held it for a long time. And then later by Dutch and Flemish printers, who were basically the main publishers in England for a solid two centuries, and then by further trading contact with just about every continent on the planet. And while we’re shaking hands and stealing language from every single people-group we meet, different parts of the language started changing at uneven rates.

By the 1400s, English started to lose its phonetic-ness: the way we articulated vowels in words like “loud” changed slowly but dramatically, and that had an effect on the rest of the word. (This is called “The Great Vowel Shift,” and it took place over a few hundred years.) Somewhere in the middle of the GVS, though, English spelling became fixed primarily because of the printing press and the easy distribution/availability of printed materials. In short: we have silent letters because the spelling of words stopped changing to match their pronunciations.

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

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