Excitement is mounting at Meghan Markle’s former high school in Los Angeles, ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday.
The girls currently studying at Immaculate Heart, a private Catholic day school in Hollywood, held a tea party on Tuesday afternoon in the grounds, donning their finest fascinators and waving British and US flags as they shimmied to Dancing Queen.
“It feels amazing to have one of our own ‘panda sisters’ have done such incredible things at her young age – all her philanthropy work,” said Lily Roth, a pupil at the school, using the nickname for the students.
“And now she’s marrying into the Royal family. So we’re more than proud of her.”
Immaculate Heart currently has 674 girls, studying inside the 112-year-old institution founded by Spanish nuns.
Set beneath the Hollywood sign, at the foot of the Santa Monica mountains, the terracotta-tiled establishment is an oasis from the bustle of Sunset Boulevard, a few blocks away.
Fees are currently $15,700 a year (£12,000) – putting it in the middle ranks for the area.
Erica Roey, another current student, added: “I think she’s really inspiring in that she did so much selfless work. She worked for this part.”
Ms Markle studied at the school from 11 to 18, leaving in 1999. Her high school yearbook featured her picture with the words “classy” – teachers remember her as someone focused and mature, who worked hard to achieve good marks.
Her father, Thomas Markle, was an Emmy award-winning lighting director, and would help with the staging of school plays – at which Ms Markle excelled.
“You’d see this little person on the stage, and she could play any character – she was really good at it,” said Christine Knudsen, her former teacher.
“She was so poised. I think from being an actress from a young age she knew how to carry herself, she knew how to speak.”
Ms Markle’s school life began at the Little Red School House in Hollywood, a private elementary whose parents include several A-list celebrities. She attended the school in the late 80s, leaving around 1992 to join Immaculate Heart High School.
Former pupils at the Little Red include Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose, and her friend Harley, daughter of filmmaker Kevin Smith. Al Pacino, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and his brother Aaron are donors.
The school sits in the centre of Hollywood, with a distinctive red wooden facade.
Fees range from $18,800 (£14,000) for pre-Kindergarten to $22,700 (£17,000) for the final elementary year, sixth grade.
Given the age of their students, there were no celebrations planned.
But at the high school, they were thrilled by the forthcoming wedding.
Maria Pollia, another teacher, who served as Ms Markle’s mentor, said she was immensely proud of her former student, and would watch the ceremony live – at 4am in Los Angeles.
The school is holding a viewing party for students, parents and teachers who wish to watch history be made in real time.
“I will be watching every moment of the royal wedding, in real time,” she said. “It’s very important to me to, and at least this way, I have a sense that I can be with her and encourage her and pray for her in this wonderful step she is taking in her life.
“And I am very happy for her – and for Prince Harry.”
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