Details have recently emerged about the choir that performed at the wedding between Prince Harry and actress Megan Markle. The Kingdom Choir of London performed two songs at the Royal Wedding in 2018. Karen Gibson, the group’s conductor, recently divulged to AOL’s Build series the events surrounding the preparation for their big performance.
Ms. Gibson first received a cryptic tip-off from a friend who worked at Clarence House - the official residence of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Her friend told Ms. Gibson that she would receive an important call but could not explain any further. After a few days passed without hearing anything, Ms. Gibson figured that the friend was incorrect.
When she received the big call, Ms. Gibson thought the caller was kidding. Even after Ms. Gibson accepted the invitation, she doubted that everything would work out. She later told the New York Times that “Right up until the wedding, I kept thinking, this is going to fall through.”
Despite her uncertainty, Ms. Gibson rigorously prepared her choir for the performance. The couple wanted a stripped-back version of “Stand By Me,” a song written and made famous by Ben E. King. The original version that the choir showed to Prince Harry and Ms. Markle was “pure gospel,” according to Ms. Gibson. The couple requested twelve changes to the song, and due to the wedding’s timing, they did not hear the choir’s final version until the actual wedding. Ms. Gibson admitted that she was “nervous as to whether this [final version] would be exactly what they wanted.”
The song proved to be a hit, both at the wedding and worldwide, as the wedding was televised. Many commentators noted the significance of a Black choir singing a Black man’s song in front of a famously-white crowd, the British aristocracy. It felt fitting to mark a new era of the British royal family, as they welcomed in Ms. Markle, who is mixed-race and American.
The Kingdom Choir’s popularity surged after the performance. They received a record deal shortly after the wedding and began a U.K tour soon after that.
As for the couple, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have now stepped back from the public life of the monarchy, but Ms. Gibson’s memories of the day don’t leave room for worry. Even two years after meeting the royal couple, she remembered: “how very much in love they were”.