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Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama trace families to same Georgia town

Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle both can trace their families to the same Georgia town, and not only were their ancestors both Jonesboro residents, they also lived there at the same time.

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According to professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak, both had third great-grandmothers living in Jonesboro in the years after the Civil War.

Meghan Markle’s great-great-great grandmother on her mother’s side was Martha Henderson, but was known as Mattie.

In the 1870 census Mattie was 10 years old, the daughter of Walker and Elizabeth Henderson.

That same 1870 census notes that Michelle Obama’s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, also lived in Jonesboro at the same time.

She would have been an adult at that time, with children of her own.

>> Who is Meghan Markle?

“Maybe Mattie was a friend of Melvinia’s kids,” said Smolenyak, who discovered Michelle Obama’s connection to Georgia in 2009.

A Google alert drew Smolenyak’s attention back to Georgia, and to Markle’s connection.

She marveled at finding “both of these women in the same little town, living so closely together. ... Both families would have recently come out from under slavery; this was barely post emancipation.”

Examining the handwriting on the census documents, she said, it’s evident that the same census worker recorded both names, which shows their proximity.

Melvinia Shields grew up on a farm just outside the village of Rex, near Jonesboro, and also in Clayton County.

Mattie was married twice, and had a daughter, Claudie Richie (or Ritchie or Richey), with her first husband.

Claudie married J.M. Ragland (J.M. were initials for “Jerry Miah” said Smolenyak), and their son Steve was Doria Ragland’s grandfather.

Claudie and J.M. moved to Chattanooga, where he worked as a tailor.

So the same Georgia town produced a First Lady and a Royal. Perhaps after Meghan and Harry are married they will stop by Georgia for tea. 

Harry and Meghan’s new titles: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

On the morning of the royal wedding Queen Elizabeth II conferred the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, CNN reported.

Harry will hold several titles: His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Markle will be known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.

Titles are decided by the Queen when a relative either comes of age or gets married, CNN reported. The queen can choose from five titles for a man, CNN reported -- duke, marquess, earl, viscount or baron. For a woman, the choices are duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness.

The titles of duke and duchess are the highest titles among the five possibilities.

It has been 175 years since a man held the title of Duke of Sussex. That was Prince Augustus Frederick, who was the sixth son and ninth child of George III, the BBC reported. He died in 1843 at age 70.

The Latest: Royal newlyweds to spend night in Windsor Castle

The Latest on the royal wedding (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, otherwise known as Britain's Prince Harry and bride Meghan Markle, will spend their first night as a married couple in Windsor Castle.

An exclusive evening reception for 200 guests at the royal Frogmore House country estate could make it a late night before they can retire to the vast castle grounds.

The newlyweds are expected to return to their home in Kensington Palace in London on Sunday.

They are not immediately embarking on a honeymoon and have their first royal engagement as wife and husband scheduled at Buckingham Palace Tuesday.

A honeymoon is expected to happen soon, though. Harry is partial to traveling in Africa, so it's possible their destination may be somewhere there. After only two dates in 2016, they went camping together in Botswana.

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7:10 p.m.

Newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made a dramatic departure for their evening reception, making the short drive from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House in a classic Jaguar convertible with the top down.

Markle, newly named by the queen as the Duchess of Sussex, wore a white gown with a high neck and bare shoulders designed by Stella McCartney for the reception, which will be hosted by Harry's father, Prince Charles. Harry wore a tuxedo. Both had big smiles as Harry opened the car door for his bride.

The silver blue Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero was originally manufactured in 1968 and now runs on electricity.

Only 200 guests have been invited to the reception, which follows a larger lunchtime reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's grandmother.

Guests invited to Frogmore House, a royal estate in Windsor Home Park, were given a few hours after the lunch to rest and change outfits.

Markle had planned to make a speech at the evening event.

The streets of Windsor remain thronged with members of the public celebrating the royal wedding.

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4:25 p.m.

Elton John has performed for guests at newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding reception.

The singer was among 600 people invited to Saturday's marriage ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. He sported a bold pair of pink spectacles as he arrived with husband David Furnish.

Kensington Palace says John "performed for the newly married couple in recognition of the close connection he has with Prince Harry and his family."

The palace did not disclose which songs the musician, who was made a knight in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998, chose for the occasion.

John was a close friend of Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, and performed the song "Candle in the Wind" with recast lyrics at her funeral in 1997.

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3:30 p.m.

Meghan Markle was not the only star of the royal wedding on Saturday. The children who were her pageboys and bridesmaids captivated the crowd in Windsor and television audiences, too.

Prince Harry's nephew and niece —Prince George and Princess Charlotte— were among the six bridesmaids and four pageboys. The 10 attendants all are age 7 and under.

The royal siblings are no strangers to performing wedding duties as they held the same roles at the wedding of Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge's younger sister, last year.

Princess Charlotte waved at crowds outside St George's Chapel following the service — proving that she's catching on quickly to the duties of royal life.

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2:35 p.m.

Chloe Edwards still can't believe she had a conversation with George Clooney on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding day.

The 16-year-old British army cadet yelled out to the actor as he and his wife, Amal Clooney, walked from St. George's Chapel to a post-wedding reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Edwards said: "I was like, 'George.!' and he came over, we had a bit of a conversation. It was fantastic. He asked if I had enjoyed the wedding."

Edwards received a coveted invitation to watch the procession from the grounds of Windsor Castle as recognition for her outstanding cadet work.

"It was just so surreal," she said. "I still don't believe I was actually here. I just loved every moment."

Edwards said Prince Harry's and Prince William's military service has helped build morale.

She said: "I think it's brilliant that even though they're royals, they still contribute toward the forces and it's really an inspiration for the rest of the country."

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2:15 p.m.

Guests are welcoming royal newlyweds Harry and Meghan at a reception featuring seasonal British produce and a nontraditional wedding cake.

Kensington Palace says the 600 guests at the Windsor Castle wedding will eat canapés including Scottish langoustines, grilled English asparagus and croquette of confit Windsor lamb.

There's no sit-down meal at the lunchtime reception, but guests will be offered bowls of chicken fricassee with morel mushrooms, pea and mint risotto and slow-roasted pork belly.

Place of honor will go to the wedding cake by California-raised London master baker Claire Ptak.

The layered lemon and elderflower cake features ingredients including 200 Amalfi lemons and 10 bottles of elderflower cordial from Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham estate.

The cake is decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 fresh flowers, mainly British and in season, including peonies and roses.

The reception is hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. Prince William, his brother's best man, is the master of ceremonies. Harry and his father, Prince Charles, are giving speeches. ___

1:35 p.m.

Meghan Markle reached 125 years back into the British monarchy's vault to choose her wedding tiara.

The diamond bandeau Markle wore was made for Queen Mary, who was crowned with husband King George V in 1911. The tiara was specifically designed to accommodate a brooch that was given to Mary in 1893 to commemorate her engagement to the then-Prince George.

Queen Elizabeth II inherited the pieces in 1953. The grandmother of groom Prince Harry has hundreds of tiaras stored in locked vaults. Royal tradition holds that the queen would let Markle borrow one of the sparkly heirlooms.

In the months before Saturday's wedding, there had been speculation over whether Markle would continue the tiara tradition and if so, whether she would choose one that belonged to Harry's late mother, Princess Diana.

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1:30 p.m.

A teenage cellist is getting praise for his performance at the royal wedding.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who is 19, performed for 600 guests and a huge global television audience as the newlyweds Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, signed the register.

Kanneh-Mason performed works including Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria." The cellist won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year contest in 2016, the first black musician to do so.

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1:20 p.m.

The leader of the Episcopal Church has quoted civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the "redemptive power of love" as he blessed the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, who was hand-picked by the couple to deliver a sermon at their wedding, told the bride and groom Saturday that there was "power in love" and that "love can help and heal when nothing else can." 

 But Curry, a champion of civil rights causes and outspoken supporter of gay rights, continued "it's not just for and about a young couple, who we rejoice with, it's more than that."

Invoking the days of slavery in the United States, he said love helped those in captivity persevere. 

He told the couple love has "the power to change the world."

Curry says "when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actual family."

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1:15 p.m.

The royal newlyweds are taking a short trip through Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage, to the delight of thousands of well-wishers.

The crowd roared as Harry and Meghan emerged from St. George's Chapel and kissed at the top of the steps.

The couple, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will travel through Windsor in the Ascot Landau carriage before looping back to Windsor Castle for their reception.

Tens of thousands of people have come to Windsor in hopes of catching a glimpse of the couple.

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12:55 p.m.

A buzzing crowd of Californians and British expatriates has packed into a Hollywood pub long before dawn for a pajama party and royal wedding viewing.

British flags and pictures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hung all around the Cat & Fiddle Pub early Saturday. It's just a few miles from Markle's childhood schools.

The sold-out pub is packed with guests wearing pajamas party hats, nightgowns and crowns.

Nottingham, England native Craig Young was giving a wedding-themed pub quiz as he wore a bathrobe and Harry mask.

The 44-year-old actor says the wedding is especially sweet for Britons in LA because a woman from their adopted hometown is joining the royal family.

It's one of countless watch parties at pubs, hotels, movie theaters and elsewhere across the U.S.

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12:40 p.m.

The archbishop of Canterbury has declared Prince Harry and Meghan Markle husband and wife.

Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, has made the proclamation after the couple promised to love and cherish one another "till death us do part," and exchanged rings.

The British-American pair are now officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the duchess will take her place among senior members of the royal family.

Saturday's ceremony took place at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, the British royals' longtime home.

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12:10 p.m.

Dean of Windsor David Conner has welcomed the congregation at the start of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The couple are standing at the altar in St. George's Chapel. They smiled at each other as a soprano sang a work by Handel.

As they stood at the altar, Harry said to Meghan: "You look amazing."

Markle arrived to a fanfare and walked down the aisle accompanied part of the way by Prince Charles, and by 10 young page boys and bridesmaids. The children include 4-year-old Prince George and 3-year-old Princess Charlotte, children of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

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12 p.m.

Meghan Markle is wearing a dress by designer Clare Waight Keller for her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle's choice is being closely watched Saturday given how big an impact royal wedding dresses have on what brides everywhere want to wear. Princess Diana's 1981 wedding gown, with its romantic details and dramatic train, defined the '80s fairytale bridal look.

More recently, when Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, her long-sleeved lace gown immediately sparked a trend for more covered-up, traditional lace bridal dresses.

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11:55 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth II arrived at St. George's Chapel in Windsor in a flared lime-colored dress in printed silk and an edge-to-edge coat with a lime silk tweed fastening.

The royal palace said that both items of clothing were designed by Stuart Parvin. She was joined by her husband, Prince Philip. The guests stood to attention as the pair entered the chapel.

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11:50 a.m.

American television star Meghan Markle has arrived at St. George's Chapel for her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle, who is being ferried to the grounds in a vintage maroon Rolls-Royce with her mother Doria Ragland, is expected to enter the chapel shortly.

Prince Harry and his brother and best man Prince William were seated waiting for her on Saturday.

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11:35 a.m.

Prince Harry and best man Prince William have arrived at St. George's Chapel for his royal wedding in Windsor to American actress Meghan Markle.

The pair, dressed in formal military uniforms, waved and smiled as they stepped across the grounds of the 15th-century church.

William, who was married to commoner Kate Middleton at a ceremony in 2011, is carrying his brother's rings. Saturday's ceremony is supposed to last about an hour.

Other members of the royal family have taken their places inside St. George's Chapel, including Harry's uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, his aunt Princess Anne and his cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

Guests are awaiting the arrival of the most senior royals, including Princes Charles, who will walk Markle down the aisle, and Queen Elizabeth II and her husband.

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11:30 a.m.

New York theatre producer Allen DeWane has a prime viewing spot on the sunlit grounds of Windsor Castle along the procession route Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will use. He was invited because of his charity work, and happy to have the chance to share the moment.

The 47-year-old DeWane said: "I'm African-American and I'm very proud of Meghan Markle. She's such a very class young lady. She carried herself so well and I think she's made us all proud."

DeWane says his contacts in the industry speak highly of Markle's professional conduct on the set of "Suits" when it was filmed in Canada.

He said: "She's got an excellent reputation with the workers and the crew, and not everyone does. It's not talked about every day on the streets, but I think the majority of African-Americans are quite proud of her. And happy."

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11:25 a.m.

American actress Meghan Markle has arrived at her hotel on her way to the royal wedding.

The 10-mile (16-kilometer) trip will take her to St. George's Chapel in Windsor, where she will marry Prince Harry.

Markle waved for the cameras as the car she was traveling in, a vintage Rolls-Royce, drove past Saturday. She appeared to be wearing a white dress and a long veil.

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11:15 a.m.

Patsy Small, a 53-year-old nursery manager who was invited to the Windsor Castle grounds, says she is "very British" but she has close relatives in the United States who have been calling her in the last few days to talk about Meghan Markle.

Small said: "As a black British woman I am so happy. Everyone's phoned me from the States this morning, they are so happy that she's here, that she's biracial, all they've been saying is black people in America are so proud and so happy."

She said she is very impressed with Prince Harry and Prince William.

Small said of Markle joining the royal family: "Will this bridge the gap? We don't know. But one thing we know is these two boys are real. Harry and William. They are real. They go to the West Indies. They go to Africa. They are trying to have a legacy like their mother. They know they're royals, they know who they are. But they are also entwined with the general public and the community. They have a mind of their own."

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10:55 a.m.

Tennis great Serena Williams and soccer star David Beckham are among famous guests from the world of sports attending the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, said on Instagram on Saturday that she was "getting ready for my friends wedding." She later walked into the chapel.

Williams returned to the WTA tour briefly this year, after a 14-month absence to give birth to her daughter. But she withdrew from the ongoing Italian Open, saying she wasn't "100 percent ready to compete," leaving her free for the wedding.

Beckham won six Premier League titles at Manchester United and had 115 appearances for England. He also won league titles in Spain (Real Madrid), the United States (LA Galaxy) and France (PSG).

Stars from the rugby world included Sir Clive Woodward, who coached England to the world cup in 2003, and Jonny Wilkinson, a member of that title-winning team.

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10:35 a.m.

A-list couples including George and Amal Clooney have arrived for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Crowds cheered as the Hollywood star and his lawyer spouse arrived at Windsor Castle — he in a gray suit, she in mustard yellow dress and matching hat.

David and Victoria Beckham have also arrived at St. George's Chapel for the ceremony. The former soccer star doffed his sunglasses to pose for photos with well-wishers. Designer Victoria wore a smart navy blue ensemble and hat with half-veil.

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10:15 a.m.

Kensington Palace says that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen Cleave & Company to make their rings.

The American actress' ring has been made with Welsh gold given by Queen Elizabeth II. The company also made her engagement ring.

Prince Harry's ring is a platinum band with a textured finish.

Prince William will carry the rings into St George's Chapel on Saturday.

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10 a.m.

St. George's Chapel has been given an overnight makeover with flower arrangements at the main entry door and inside the great room where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will wed.

A cascading hedgerow style using native flowers and foliage graces the entryway. A similar display was inside.

Senior chapel official Charlotte Manley said the flowers were put in overnight while other decorations were put in place in recent days.

She said Markle helped choose the plants but has not seen them in place. That will happen when she arrives to be wed.

The chapel was filled with light from the extensive stain glass window on a bright sunny morning as guests started to arrive.

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9:50 a.m.

Oprah Winfrey and Idris Elba are among the first guests to arrive at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The American talk-show titan and the London-born Hollywood star are among celebrities, royalty, athletes and family friends in the 600-strong congregation invited to St. George's Chapel in Windsor.

Singer James Blunt has also arrived Saturday at the gothic chapel, where the wedding will start at noon (1100GMT).

Royal relatives on hand include Charles Spencer, the brother of Harry's late mother Princess Diana.

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9:20 a.m.

Royal fans have come from near and far for a glimpse of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day in Windsor.

Hundreds camped out overnight to get a prime spot outside for the newlyweds' horse-drawn carriage near Windsor Castle after the ceremony.

"I woke up wet, and I'm freezing cold, my back is sore, and I just want to go to bed," said Bernadette Christie, a Canadian from Grand Prairie, Alberta.

"I'm here for that 10 seconds when that coach goes around the corner," she said. "It'll be well worth it."

Farkahanda Ahmed came with her mother and a friend from Slough, a few miles from Windsor, arriving at 4 a.m. to get a good spot. The trio wore Union Jack hijabs in honor of the occasion.

"It's a proud moment for us — times are changing," Ahmed said. "Who would have thought a Hollywood actress would become a British princess?

"We are proud to be British and we wanted to come here and show our support."

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9 a.m.

The members of the public selected for prime viewing spots for the royal wedding have started arriving.

Alan Scott was one of the first arrivals among the roughly 2,600 people invited to watch the procession from the grounds of Windsor Castle. He was invited because of his 45 years of service to scouting, an activity that enjoys much royal family support.

He will have a front row view of the wedding procession and hoped for a good chance to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after the ceremony.

The 69-year-old Scott had come in from Lincolnshire the night before for the big event.

"It's a great honor," he said of the unexpected invite. "The atmosphere is great. The royals are great supporters of everything and the young element is really coming through. I think they're going to take things forward."

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8:30 a.m.

Royal watchers have swarmed the first trains from London to Windsor as they headed for the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.

At the station in Slough, the changing point for travelers from London, revelers found sign boards reading "All aboard the royal wedding special to Harry & Meghan Central."

Many of those on the standing room only trains were Americans, including Christine Clancy from Virginia.

Clancy says she's "always been a royal fan — not an extreme one — I just love British history and love the royals. I just wanted to be part of the wedding celebration."

Irene Bowdry, a lawyer from California, booked her trip with four friends as soon as the date was announced. She said "an American in the royal family, isn't that so exciting?"

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8:20 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth II has conferred a dukedom on Prince Harry — making him the Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

The new title will mean that when Harry marries American actress Meghan Markle later Saturday in Windsor, she will become the Duchess of Sussex.

The secondary titles are for use in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The monarch similarly bestowed titles on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge before their wedding in 2011.

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8 a.m.

Thousands of people are on the streets outside Windsor Castle after many of them camped overnight to grab the best spots to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day.

It was the fourth night sleeping rough for Canadian royal-watcher Bernadette Christie, who says it will be well worth it if she sees the royal couple pass by in their state carriage.

Christie says, "I'm freezing cold, my back is sore, and I just want to go to bed."

But she is unrepentant. She says "I'm here for that ten seconds when the coach comes around the corner."

Police and security marshals are out in force to ensure the safety of the tens of thousands of people expected to converge on Windsor during the day.

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5 a.m.

The big day is finally here: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to wed at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

It all started with a blind date two years ago that went very, very well.

That has turned into a global mega-event Saturday that is helping reshape the British monarchy and will be watched by tens of millions of TV viewers around the world.

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as much as the guest preacher whose sermon brought American flair to a very English church service.

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, was hand-picked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to address their 600 wedding guests.

The bishop's sermon on the theme of love, delivered with energy and studded with quotes from the bible, Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American spirituals, was a contrast to the more solemn Anglican style the royal family is used to.

Quoting civil rights icon King on the "redemptive power of love," Curry told the bride and groom "it's not just for, and about, a young couple who we rejoice with, it's more than that."

Many observers were surprised and delighted. BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine tweeted: "The preacher is doing 50 in a 30 zone and it's brilliant."

Supermodel Naomi Campbell hit Caps Lock and tweeted: "BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY GIVING ME LIFE."

Curry, who like Markle's mother has African ancestors who were slaves in the U.S., said that even during their time of bondage, love helped those in captivity persevere.

"When love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actual family," he said in a sermon that touched on poverty, inequality and the healing power of love.

"When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God and brothers and sisters," he said. "That's a new heaven, a new earth a new world, a new human family."

Harry and Markle exchanged a quick glance at one point as Curry drifted from his prepared remarks and ad-libbed. Camilla and Kate — the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge — traded sidelong glances.

Queen Elizabeth II, who as monarch holds the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, did not show any sign of discomfort and looked as stoic as she had through the entire ceremony.

There may have been a touch of royal relief when Curry quipped "We gotta get y'all married now." But he kept going, bringing a dash of passion to the pulpit.

The crowds waiting outside for a glimpse of the royal couple loved it. Cheers greeted Curry as he walked uphill from the chapel along the procession route after the service. One man shouted "well done" — prompting a smile and "God bless you" from the bishop.

Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, an atheist, tweeted: "Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer."

The Episcopal Church is an offshoot of the Church of England in the United States and has been the spiritual home of many of the American founding fathers and U.S. presidents.

Even though its support for gay marriage has recently caused friction with the greater Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said ahead of the ceremony that he was "thrilled" Curry would be speaking there, calling him a "stunning preacher."

Curry, 65, who is married and has two grown daughters, was born in Chicago and raised in Buffalo, New York. He began his ministry in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and served as rector in Lincoln Heights, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland.

Selecting him to give the sermon was one of several personal touches Harry and Meghan put on the service, held in the 15th century St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Markle, who attended a Roman Catholic school, was baptized in March into the Church of England in preparation for the wedding and joining the royal family.

The ceremony was based on Common Worship — the most modern of several Church of England service options — and included prayers and hymns, as well as readings and musical selections chosen by the couple and their families.

That included a fusion of American and British elements, including the London-based gospel ensemble the Kingdom Choir's stirring renditions of Ben. E. King's "Stand By Me" and Etta James' "Amen/This Little Light of Mine."

Teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason wowed the 600 guests with works including Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria." The cellist won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year contest in 2016, the first black musician to do so.

For all the individual touches, the service was dominated by tradition.

The pair read the Church of England wedding vows, promising to have and to hold, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."

Then the archbishop pronounced them husband and wife.

"Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder," he said.

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Rising reported from Berlin. Jill Lawless in London contributed.

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For complete AP royal wedding coverage, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Royalweddings

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.

British reserve crisscrossed with American verve in a service that broke molds and created new ones. Choirboys and a gospel choir; the archbishop of Canterbury and the African-American leader of the Episcopal church; a horse-drawn carriage and flowers hand-picked by the groom.

The wedding was a global event, thanks to Harry's status as a senior British royal and Markle's celebrity after starring on the U.S. television series "Suits" for seven years. Yet it seemed somehow so personal — and they both beamed like a couple who couldn't take their eyes off each other.

In a rousing sermon that highlighted a bit of a culture gap between outgoing Americans and reserved Brits, the Most. Rev. Michael Curry of the U.S. stirred the congregation from its fairy-tale reverie, quoting Martin Luther King in in a sermon that had some reaching for hankies and others shifting in their chairs.

"There's power in love," Curry said, his voice rising. "Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will."

He also quoted from the Song of Solomon in the Bible: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it."

Joining the couple were a phalanx of celebrities, many of whom shared their wish to change the world. Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Elton John, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, James Corden and David and Victoria Beckham all watched from rows of seats in the Gothic masterpiece that is St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The British weather was — gasp! — sunny and balmy, bathing the ancient stones of Windsor Castle in a beautiful spring light.

Many in the throng who waited outside also embraced the trans-Atlantic symbolism of the moment. Sheraton Jones, 22, who is from California but studying in Britain, described it as a melding of cultures.

"It was very touching, it's two different cultures kind of coming together, it was just so surreal," she said.

In the United States, this royal wedding was embraced for its diversity and inclusivity.

"This was black history," said Joy Widgeon, who attended a house party in Burlington, New Jersey, with her 6- and 8-year-old daughters. "African-Americans were front and center at the royal wedding. This was the first time, and hopefully it won't be the last. I am here for it."

Harry also invited buddies from his 10 years of military service — which included two tours of duty in Afghanistan — and from many of the charities he supports, which have focused on helping wounded veterans and encouraging a more open discussion of mental health issues.

To kick off the festivities, Queen Elizabeth II honored her red-headed, 33-year-old grandson with a new title: the Duke of Sussex, making the 36-year-old Markle the Duchess of Sussex.

The American actress drew raves for her sleek white silk boat-necked dress by U.K. designer Clare Waight Keller of the French fashion house Givenchy. Her sheer veil — down to her waist in front and billowing for what seemed like miles behind her — carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth, countries drawn mostly from the former British Empire, headed by Markle's new grandmother-in-law, the queen.

Caroline Burstein, owner of Browns Bride, a top London bridal boutique, called the bridal gown "a nod to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and every iconic wedding we have witnessed throughout the 20th and 21st century. It's perfect for her and for the occasion they are celebrating."

The palace said Markle also selected two other plant designs to be on the veil: Wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace, where the royal couple will live, and the California poppy, in a nod to the bride's birthplace.

Harry and best man Prince William wore white gloves and the frock coat uniforms of the Blues and Royals army regiment, in which Harry was once an officer. Harry also kept his full red beard — a style decision that had sparked British betting earlier.

Markle at first walked down the aisle with 10 young page boys and bridesmaids, then was accompanied by Prince Charles to the altar. As his father and bride drew close, Harry said: "Thank you, Pa."

To Markle, Harry said: "You look amazing."

Markle seemed poised and confident as she delivered her vows without so much as a quiver in her voice. She smiled broadly as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby declared the couple husband and wife. Harry seemed a bit nervous, but happy.

Other relatives in the ceremony included 4-year-old Prince George and 3-year-old Princess Charlotte, the oldest children of William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

The 92-year-old queen and her 96-year-old husband, Prince Philip, Harry's grandparents, looked on with pride, as did Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, who has spent the last few days getting to know her daughter's new family.

Two of Harry's ex-girlfriends were at the chapel — Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas — as was Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew.

As they emerged from the chapel as a married couple, the two kissed — and the crowd roared. It just kept on cheering as Harry helped his wife fold her 5 meter (16½ foot) train into an Ascot Landau carriage for their procession through the streets of Windsor.

Police said more than 100,000 people lined the route. The open-topped carriage was pulled by four Windsor Grey horses and past crowds waving flags and holding cellphones aloft. The newlyweds smiled and waved, smiled at each other, waved and repeated the process for the 25-minute tour of Windsor.

It was the crowds in Windsor that seemed to best capture the joy of the moment. Many had camped or arrived at dawn on packed trains, vying for a good spot along the procession route. They cheered and screamed and sighed as the newlyweds passed by.

"I went to William and Kate's wedding, but this is a completely different vibe," said Arlene Prinsloo, who had flown from South Africa. "It's much more relaxed, and I think that reflects who Harry is."

The queen hosted the first of two royal wedding receptions after the service and procession, an afternoon affair for 600 people where finger foods, wine and champagne were served. On Saturday night, a second, more lively and intimate reception for 200 people was being thrown by Charles.

The newlyweds emerged from Windsor Castle just after 7 p.m. to head for the evening event at Frogmore House, a royal country estate. This time, their wheels came courtesy of a classic Jaguar E-Type convertible instead of a horse-drawn carriage.

Markle traded her wedding dress for a white gown with a high neck and bare shoulders designed by Stella McCartney. Harry was in a tuxedo instead of his military uniform. Both wore big smiles as the groom opened the car door for his bride.

In another break with tradition, Markle was making a speech at the evening event, according to the palace.

The couple planned to spend the night at Windsor Castle and to return to their home in Kensington Palace in London on Sunday.

They are not immediately embarking on a honeymoon and have their first royal engagement as wife and husband scheduled at Buckingham Palace Tuesday.

A honeymoon is expected to happen soon, though. Harry is partial to traveling in Africa, so it's possible their destination may be somewhere there. After only two dates in 2016, he and Markle went camping together in Botswana.

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Kirka and Lawless reported from London. Errin Haines Whack contributed from Burlington, New Jersey.

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For complete AP royal wedding coverage, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Royalweddings

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims in Friday morning’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, KRIV reported.

>> Read more trending news

“Absolutely horrific,” Watts tweeted Friday in response to the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 10 others injured at the high school located southeast of Houston. 

The Texans confirmed Friday night that Watt will pay for the funerals, KTRK reported.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, a student at the school, was arrested and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer in the shooting in which 10 people were killed and 10 others were injured. 

>> Santa Fe High School shooting: 10 dead, 10 injured

Watt has been honored for his philanthropic efforts. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 2017, along with Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, for his work in helping Houston recover after Hurricane Harvey. Watt helped raise $37 million through the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

Watt was also given the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award during Super Bowl LII weekend.

On Facebook, Chris Allen of Crowder Funeral Home wrote that Mount Olivet Cemetery was offering free plots for the victims, KHOU reported.

High-tech, sphere-shaped arena coming to Las Vegas Strip

A massive high-tech, sphere-shaped venue that will host concerts and other events while engaging multiple senses will break ground this summer in Las Vegas, officials announced Friday.

The New York-based Madison Square Garden Company revealed details of the 18,000-seat, futuristic-looking facility it is developing in partnership with Las Vegas Sands, which operates two casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip adjacent to the planned arena.

The MSG Sphere Las Vegas, where a massive exterior LED will be capable of making it appear as if is transforming into a globe or a tennis ball or project the event happening inside, is expected to open on New Year's Eve 2020.

"Just sitting there, what would it take to convince you that instead of sitting here in an airplane hangar in Las Vegas, you are sitting in your chair in the polar ice cap or an Amazon rainforest?" said Jim Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Company. "Obviously if you are in the polar ice cap, you have to feel cold; you have to see the glacier. That is essentially what we are building: an attempt to convince you that you are somewhere else."

The 170,000-square-foot LED screen will wrap around its interior bowl. The average movie theater screen is 1,000 square feet and an IMAX screen is about 4,000 square feet.

It will also have an adaptive acoustics system that will enable audio to be directed to specific locations at a near-constant volume. Patrons will be able to smell different scents and feel certain movements, depending on the experience.

"We are going to employ a haptic flooring system that will create vibrations that when you are riding atop a Harley, you'll feel the pistons pumping," Dolan said.

Dolan said they have nothing for the sense of taste, "other than popcorn."

The venue comes as Las Vegas visitors continue to cut their gambling budgets but spend more on entertainment and dining.

An annual report from the agency responsible from promoting Las Vegas shows says nearly six in 10 visitors last year attended a show during their trip, an increase from the previous year.

The report from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority also showed that more than one in four people saw a Broadway or production-style show and more than one in five saw big-name headliner shows.

Dolan said the company is soliciting storytellers, artists and performers to create content.

In addition to concerts, the venue will be capable of hosting events like product launches, educational demonstrations and e-sports tournaments, in which all patrons could potentially participate thanks to the planned connectivity system.

"Imagine instead of having five players play five players, we can have 9,000 versus 9,000 or 1 versus 17,999," said Dolan.

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.

The Met fired Levine as its music director emeritus on March 12, citing evidence of misconduct, but it did not make public any details. Levine sued the Met three days later for breach of contract and defamation, which the opera company denies.

The Met filed its reply and counterclaims on Friday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. It is seeking $5.86 million in damages for what it called breach of loyalty.

Levine, who turns 75 next month, was the Met's music director and/or artistic director from 1976 to 2016 before the shift to an emeritus position. He was suspended on Dec. 3 after allegations of misconduct in reports by the New York Post and The New York Times. He has not been charged with any crime.

In its court filing, the Met claimed it learned during its investigation of improper conduct by Levine from 1975 to 2000. The Met identified the individuals only by number but described them as including a musician, an opera singer, an artist, two people who were 16 years old and a member of its Young Artists Program.

Levine's lawyers filed an answer to the Met's papers saying the company "has chosen to create sensationalized allegations ... all of which have no legal or factual basis whatsoever."

The Met said it found evidence of conduct that included discussion of pornography, groping, kissing and mutual masturbation.

In one instance, the Met accused Levine of inappropriately touching a musician starting in 1979 and six more times until 1991. In another 1985 incident, Levine is accused of groping and kissing an opera singer he was giving a ride home in his car against that person's will. Levine later placed the person in what prestigious program at the Met, the filings stated.

In 1986, Levine sexually abused a 16-year-old and arranged an estimated $50,000 in payments to the person through his brother, the filings stated.

The last incident described in the filings occurred in 1999 when Levine inappropriately touched a member of the Met's Young Artists Program "on his knees, legs and hands" and then the following year invited the musician to his dressing room to engage in sexual activity, according to Friday's court filings.

Levine's lawyers called them "only vague and unsubstantiated accusations of sexual misconduct supposedly engaged in by Levine decades ago, made by unidentified individuals, all in an attempt intentionally to smear Levine's name, reputation, and legacy, while at the same time making it difficult for Levine to defend himself with any specificity against anonymous accusations."

The conductor's lawyers said "Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals." They added "the Met had no basis whatsoever for suspending and ultimately terminating Levine. The Met's so-called 'investigation' of Levine's conduct was nothing more than a pretext for the Met to suspend, fire and defame him."

Levine conducted 2,552 performances at the Met from 1971 through Dec. 2.

Prosecutors in Lake County, Illinois, said in December they had investigated a 1980s sexual abuse allegation but concluded that they could not bring charges, citing factors including the age of consent — 16 — at the time.

Meghan Markle, mother check in to hotel night before royal wedding

Meghan Markle has checked in to the Cliveden House Hotel at the National Trust's Cliveden Estate to spend the night before her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle and her mom, Doria Ragland, arrived at the hotel Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

When asked how she was feeling, Markle said, “wonderful, thank you,” People magazine reports.

Judge rejects lawsuit against Fox by ex-host Andrea Tantaros

A judge threw out a New York lawsuit Friday against Fox News by former host Andrea Tantaros, citing her "vague, speculative and conclusory allegations."

The lawsuit U.S. District Judge George Daniels dismissed had alleged Fox tried to torment Tantaros after she complained about sexual harassment.

The lawsuit claimed Tantaros was viewed as a threat by Fox executives after she declined an offer of more than $1 million to remain silent. The suit said Tantaros suspected her emails and telephone conversations were being monitored after she revealed personal information in calls or emails that were then referenced by others in cruel social media posts.

She sought unspecified damages.

Fox News Channel had urged the lawsuit be rejected, saying the claims were a paranoid fantasy or a deliberate hoax.

In his written ruling, Daniels recounted her claims at length but repeatedly cited instances in which her accusations lacked the kind of specifics and proof necessary to put them before a jury.

For example, he rejected a wiretap claim, saying she had "failed to allege a basic element of this cause of action: an actual interception of her wire, oral, or electronic communications."

In another instance, he struck down a malware claim, citing her "vague, speculative, and conclusory allegations."

In an email response to a request for comment, Tantaros said, "Not one part of this lawsuit was based on speculation and conjecture — it was based on first hand testimony, cold, hard facts, and independently verified computer forensics.

"The Judge made the wrong call, and I absolutely plan on appealing," she wrote. "Fox News will be held accountable, just as they have for their sickening past, rife with sexual harassment, discrimination and destroying the careers of dozens of women for having the courage to come forward with the truth."

Asked for comment, a Fox News spokesman said the decision speaks for itself.

In August 2016, Tantaros sued the network, its ousted chairman and other top executives in a separate lawsuit, saying they retaliated after she detailed unwanted sexual advances made by her onetime boss Roger Ailes. A state judge ruled those claims were subject to closed-door arbitration.

Tantaros worked as a host and political analyst for Fox News from 2011 to 2016.

Ailes died last year.

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