As Meghan Markle is being shoehorned into her hand-stitched designer wedding gown and her soon-to-be husband is grooming his carefully cultivated facial hair and donning his military attire, a sleepy hamlet in East Lothian will be busy making preparations of their own for the big Royal wedding day.
Tucked away from the busy A1 and nestling in rolling hills lies Markle, population around 100. Accessed via a perfectly manicured tree-lined avenue flanked by beech hedges and wild flowers, and over a white-painted railway crossing, the collection of houses that make up the tiny village are adorned with rambling roses and ivy.
The area is steeped in history with the ruins of Markle Castle standing just quarter of a mile away. The keep, perched on a rocky outcrop, was built on an ancient site where the king of the Picts Angus defeated the invading King Athel and his army of Saxons in 832 AD. Legend has it that Angus prayed on the outcome of the battle and was rewarded by a vision of a cloud formation of a saltire against a blue sky. The Scots won and the national flag was born as was the name of the site, Merkill, loosely translated as miracle and later to be known as Markle.
At the top of the village visitors are welcomed by a sign proclaiming its name, which temporarily bears bunting, hearts cut out of paper and fashioned from wood and tartan ribbon in honour of the upcoming nuptials.
Many members of the close knit community will come together on Saturday to raise a toast to the bride and groom at a garden party organised by residents. Tables and gazebos will be erected on the green which is backed on to by 25 neat red-brick homes that used to be farm cottages known as the Steading. A BBQ will be fired up and British fayre will be served with strawberries and cream finishing off the feast washed down by Pimms cocktails.
The outside venue will be bedecked with homemade bunting, paper chains, pom-poms and carefully arranged flowers fit for a new princess and everyone’s hoping for the sun to shine down on them and the Royal couple on the day.
Markle is a magical place to live, its beautiful, the people here are friendly and we have tremendous community spiritCiara Vance
Lorna Field, who has lived in Markle with her husband Garry for more than 20 years, loves living in the countryside idyll. She said: “It’s such a lovely place to live with an almost traditional way of living. We’ve watched the local children grow up and get married themselves.
“I think Harry seems like a really nice chap and it’s wonderful that he’s found himself a nice lass who loves him. I’m chuffed he’s found her. I might even wear a crown after a few wines.”
Ciara and Lisa Vance have lived in the Steading for five years and are looking forward to celebrating their unique connection with Mrs Windsor-to-be. Ciara said: “It’s very exciting that our small hamlet of Markle shares its name with Prince Harry’s fiancee. Markle is a magical place to live, it’s beautiful, the people here are friendly and we have tremendous community spirit. We are also blessed to be surrounded by the stunning and romantic East Lothian countryside - you could say it is the ideal location for a quiet, peaceful honeymoon!”
Another resident, Neil Morland moved to Markle from Manchester in 2015 with his wife and daughter. He said: “Markle is a fabulous place to live and the wedding is a good opportunity for the community to come together after a long hard winter. My daughter is four and loves princesses so she’s excited about the wedding.”
Mum-of-two Jenny Patterson has lived in the hamlet for 17 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else: “There’s something about Markle”, she said. “It’s such a brilliant place to bring up children. It’s almost an old-fashioned childhood with a safe and happy life.” Adding some marriage advice for the betrothed couple, she said: “Just keep a sense of hunour and be patient.”