A 12-year-old schoolgirl caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing is among the members of the public picked to witness Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
With political figures kept off the guest list entirely, the couple have opted for an informal approach to their guest list for the St George’s Chapel ceremony in the grounds of Windsor Castle compared to the Westminster Abbey wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
Some 1,200 members of the public will be among the crowds allowed into the grounds of Windsor Castle to share in the atmosphere of the royal wedding.
Among those invited are Amelia Thompson from Dronfield Woodhouse, near Sheffield, who has spent a year recovering from the trauma she suffered after witnessing the Manchester attack.
She has decided to give her other ticket to grandmother Sharon Goodman, whose 15-year-old granddaughter Olivia Campbell-Hardy died in the bombing.
The youngster said: “I was speechless. I could not respond I was so excited,” and she is now looking forward to buying a new dress for the occasion.
Amelia, along with almost 1,200 other people who have made “notable contributions to the local community”, will be joined by 200 guests from charities the royal couple work with, as well as 100 local school pupils and 500 members of the royal household.
Pamela Anomneze said she felt “excited and overwhelmed” to be one of the chosen guests. She said: “I got an email informing me, and I thought it was an April Fool’s prank.”
The mother-of-three - who works at the Studio 306 Collective, a social enterprise which helps people with mental health problems - described the honour as “truly unbelievable”, saying the engaged pair are the “world’s most beautiful couple”.
The 52-year-old from Haringey, London, will take her 15-year-old son Jude Anomneze-Collins as her plus one, after he made a heartfelt plea to attend alongside her.
She said: “He used to watch Suits. When I came home and informed him of the invite he was down on his knees begging to go. He said ‘Oh mum, just to get a glimpse of Meghan Markle!’”
She said she may wear a colourful outfit traditional to her native Nigeria, but
will leave the decision up to her colleagues at the Studio 306 Collective.
The lucky group were nominated by the nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices after Harry and Meghan asked for those picked to come from a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have shown strong leadership, and those who have served their communities.
The guest list includes 30-year-old Philip Gillespie from Northern Ireland, who lost his leg in an IED incident in Afghanistan before raising funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
Deaf schoolboy Reuben Litherland, who started sign language lessons at his school, has also been invited.
Entrepreneur Rosie Ginday, 34, who set up the social enterprise and baking business Miss Macaroon in Birmingham in 2011, said she was “delighted” to get an invitation, after impressing Harry and Meghan with some of her trainees’ macaroons during their visit to the city in March.
Her organisation reinvests profits into developing disadvantaged young people’s potential, training them as chefs and offering them real world experience.
The qualified pastry chef and former English teacher said: “Harry and Meghan came to Millennium Point (Birmingham), and got to taste our macaroons which was really fun.
“They were both so passionate about meeting all the young girls there and took a real interest.
“They’re accessible as well, and it’s great to have a younger generation of royals showing they do care and they are invested in what young people can do.”