The Rumored Reason Meghan Markle Ditched Pippa Middleton's Wedding

In 2017, Pippa Middleton — the sister of Catherine, Princess of Wales — wed James Matthews. However, one notable person was absent from the wedding ceremony: Prince Harry's then-girlfriend, now-wife, Meghan Markle. The book "Finding Freedom" by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand chronicles Harry and Meghan's relationship. According to that biography, Pippa was unsure about inviting them: "The media frenzy that followed their every move made them somewhat of a reluctant addition to the guest list for Pippa Middleton's vows on May 20, 2017. Both the bride and her mom, Carole, privately harbored concerns that the American actress's presence alongside [Prince] Harry might overshadow the main event."

Meghan didn't end up attending Pippa's wedding, but she was at the reception. A detail about the reception shared in "Finding Freedom" is the controversial, untraditional seating chart. Although Meghan and Harry attended the event together, they — along with all other couples in attendance — were seated at different tables.

"Finding Freedom" asserts that Meghan planned on being at the ceremony too, putting together a "stylish without being splashy" outfit. However, when The Sun published a piece titled "It's Meghan v. Pippa in the ... Wedding of the Rears" on Pippa's wedding day, Meghan chose to refrain from going.

Harry and Meghan didn't want to stir anything up

The cheeky (no pun intended) headline in The Sun was referencing Pippa Middleton's dress from the wedding of Catherine, Princess of Wales and William, Prince of Wales. Pippa turned heads and stole the show in her slim white dress, which is considered one of the mishaps from William and Kate Middleton's big day. The Sun's cover story comparing Pippa and Meghan Markle included a snapshot of Meghan exiting a gym alongside a photo of Pippa from Kate's wedding. The cover, later posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed, "Harry's girl tones bum" as she was photographed exiting a gym. 

After that, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly both decided her attending the ceremony wouldn't be a good idea. "Finding Freedom" said, "If they worried their arrival might create a media circus despite taking every precaution, now they had no doubt it would." Meghan spent the day in an Airbnb and, when Harry picked her up for the reception, she wore a "decidedly unflashy long black gown" and applied her makeup herself.

Did Meghan ever plan on going to the ceremony?

The claims in "Finding Freedom" have not been confirmed by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Around the time of its publication, a spokesperson said, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to 'Finding Freedom.' This book is based on the authors' own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting" (via BBC).

Additionally, an insider spoke with People prior to Pippa Middleton and James Matthews' wedding and said Meghan was only going to the reception. They said partners that aren't engaged or married likely wouldn't be invited to the ceremony but would be invited to the more casual reception. If that's the case, perhaps Meghan was never going to the ceremony at all, despite "Finding Freedom" speculating it was a day-of decision.

However, it does seem the Sussexes were cautious about causing a stir. The day of the big event, E! News reported that Harry and Meghan had arrived at the reception together after he flew solo for the ceremony. A source told the outlet, "Right now, Harry and Meghan are leaning towards not wanting to attract extra attention, especially on a day that's not about them. It takes the pressure off."