All the Terms You’ll Need to Know While Watching the Royal Wedding

Time for a royal study sesh

Karwai Tang

In just a few more weeks, millions of eyes will be glued to their television screens as Prince Harry weds Meghan Markle. For those across the pond, it will be an early wake-up call with some U.S. broadcasts starting as early as 4 a.m. EST (1 a.m. PST). The last thing you’ll want while dealing with sleepy eyes and lots of coffee is to not be able to keep up with the foreign nuptials, as they'll use some terminology that is, well, foreign to us. Luckily, we've got your back.

Whether you plan on watching as intently as football fans watch the Super Bowl, or are just there for the dress and the diamonds, it's time for a royal study sesh. Here are some likely unfamiliar terms you’ll definitely want to know. Consider this Royal Wedding Vocabulary 101!

Bowler Hat

Typically a bowler hat refers to a hard felt hat with a rounded crown, named after London based hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler.


Not what you think! At royal weddings, all bridesmaids (and page boys) are typically children—not the bride’s besties.


A commoner is any of us (unfortunately) who's a nonroyal. You might hear Meghan being referred to as a commoner once or twice, but after the royal wedding she will be anything but.

Duke & Duchess

Following their own royal wedding, Kate Middleton and Prince William became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed what Meghan and Harry's titles will be. Just in case, it’s important to know that a duchess is more or less the wife of a duke, and a duke is a title that outranks all other titles of nobility and is the highest hereditary rank one can hold—outside of king, that is. It’s important to know that a prince can be a duke (like Harry and William), but a duke can’t be a prince. Got it?


A fascinator is a fancy, decorative headpiece, usually attached to a band or clip, that is customary to wear at weddings and other highly regarded occasions. They are also traditionally worn as a status symbol, showing social standing. In fact, formal hats are a requirement for church weddings such as this one.


By definition, a festoon is a chain or strip hanging between two points, typically decorative in nature. You might see this term to describe a tiara, like the one Autumn Kelly wore when she wed Peter Phillips, or it can refer to the arrangement of feathers on a hat, or strings of decorative flowers.


In the U.S., this is what’s referred to as a bachelorette party—the last fling before the ring for the bride!


A landau is a four-wheeled carriage with two doors, benches facing one another, and a convertible hood. For the royal wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to use an Ascot Landau for their ride through the streets of Windsor.


When you’re liveried, it means you’re wearing livery—or a uniform worn by household servers and employees. On the royal wedding day, the royal couple might be surrounded by liveried attendants.

Page Boy

In the U.S., when young boys are involved in the wedding party they are typically referred to as the ring bearer and are in charge of, obviously, the rings. In the U.K., a page boy is a young male attendant, similar to a ring bearer, but without any royal ring duties and more of as a way to include younger male relatives. Prince George is likely to serve as a page boy in Meghan and Harry's royal wedding.


Similarly to a hen party, this is the U.K.'s version of bachelor parties.


Reportedly, Prince Harry has been using this term to refer to the process of planning the royal wedding. It’s a combination of “wedding” and “admin.”

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