Prince Harry Says He Improvised the Best Man Speech at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Wedding

The heartfelt speech included nostalgic stories from their childhood and funny anecdotes.

Kate Middleton and Prince William

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Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, which took place on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey, was a special day filled with sentimental touches. While their nuptials did follow royal wedding protocol, the Prince and Princess of Wales also incorporated several elements that personalized the affair. Take, for example, Kate’s sparkling diamond pavé earrings as a nod to her parents and her lush bouquet featuring sweet William that honored her now-husband. Another moment that made their big day extra meaningful? Prince Harry delivered a heartfelt speech at the bride and groom’s wedding reception, which took place at Buckingham Palace. In his new memoir, Spare, Prince Harry admits that his best man speech was mostly improvised. 

One of the most touching components of the speech was a look back at the brothers’ childhood. In addition to stories about their time growing up together, Harry included a mentioning of their mother, Princess Diana. The groom’s brother said Princess Di would have loved celebrating her oldest son’s big day and would have enjoyed witnessing his relationship with Kate develop. 

The speech also included letters of support that the public sent. In one amusing tale, Harry explained that one letter was from a man who lived in the United States. According to Spare, Harry described in his speech that this man made it his mission to design a special garment for the bride, so he set out to collect 1,000 stoats. At the end of the year, the United States resident only managed to catch two stoats, so he ended up making a smaller piece of clothing for Kate than he envisioned—a thong. Harry ended up pulling the gift out of his pocket, which made the guests laugh. 

In Harry’s forthcoming memoir, the Duke of Sussex also made sweet comments about his relationship with Kate. Harry wrote that he loved his sister-in-law and said she was the sister he never had but always wanted. He also mentioned in his book that Kate was a perfect match for Will and described how thrilled he was that Kate would stand by his brother’s side. In another extract, Harry added that he liked cracking jokes and finding ways to make Kate laugh. 

Spare is filled with many revelations about Harry's life as a member of the royal family. In one section, Harry disclosed more details about his wedding day. According to the novel, the duke had to ask Queen Elizabeth II for permission to keep his beard when he married Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. In his autobiography, Harry admits that a beard violated a long-standing tradition and was forbidden in the British Army, which is why he had to plead his case to the former queen. Elizabeth ended up giving Harry the green light, but Will encouraged his brother to shave the beard. “You put her in an uncomfortable position, Harold,” Harry quotes Will in his memoir. “She had no choice but to say ‘yes.’”

Harry writes in his book that the argument lasted more than a week. When Harry asked his brother why it mattered, Will replied, “Because I wasn’t allowed to keep my beard.” In an interview for ITV on Sunday, January 8, 2023, Harry gives more insight behind the disagreement. “I think there’s a level of competition there,” Harry shares in the interview. “I remembered that William had a beard himself and that granny and other people, the ones to tell, told him that he had to shave it off. The difference for me was—as I explained to my grandmother—that this beard that I’m still wearing felt to me at the time like the new Harry, right? As almost like a shield to my anxiety.” Additionally, Harry noted that his future wife wouldn’t be able to recognize him while walking down the aisle if he shaved off his facial hair.

In the end, Harry stood at the altar in his military uniform with a full beard on his face. “I would feel very, very different without my beard, and that’s hard for people to understand who’ve never grown a beard, but hopefully those beard people out there will go, ‘Yeah, no, I fully get that. I can understand.’”

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