Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to stay at separate hotels on eve of wedding

LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Harry and U.S. actress Meghan Markle will stay at hotels in the Windsor area on the night before their wedding, his office said on Monday, with the bride relaxing in a country house linked to one of Britain’s greatest political scandals.

Harry and Markle will tie the knot on Saturday at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the home of the prince’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth, to the west of London.

The night before their wedding, which is attracting huge global media interest, the couple will stay in separate luxury hotels nearby, Kensington Palace said.

“Prince Harry will stay at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park. His Royal Highness will be joined by Best Man The Duke of Cambridge,” Kensington Palace said, referring to Harry’s elder brother Prince William.

“Ms. Markle, accompanied by her mother, Ms. Doria Ragland, will stay at Cliveden House Hotel, on the National Trust’s Cliveden Estate.”

On its website, the five-star Coworth Park, which is located about 7 miles (11 km) from Windsor, says it offers guests “an experience to refresh every sense within our welcoming oasis of calm” and rooms cost in excess of 2,000 pounds ($2,719) a night.

Cliveden House, a former stately home built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress, has “remained a pinnacle of intrigue and glamour for the elite” and has played host to every British monarch since George I, its website says.

Suites at the hotel - including the appropriately “Prince of Wales”, the title of Harry’s father Prince Charles - cost from 1,535 pounds a night.

Cliveden, about 9 miles (14 km) north of Windsor, was at the center of one of Britain’s most infamous political scandals in the 1960s.

The country house, then owned by Viscount Bill Astor, was where John Profumo, the then-minister for war, met Christine Keeler, the mistress of a suspected Russian spy, as she took a dip in the swimming pool in 1961.

The couple began an affair and Profumo was forced to resign after lying to parliament that they were involved in a relationship.

Last week, Harry’s spokesman said Markle and her mother would travel by car to Windsor on the morning of the wedding and the bride would then meet her father, Thomas Markle, at the chapel.

There had been speculation about what role Markle’s parents, who divorced when she was six, would play in the wedding ceremony.

In another royal announcement on Monday, it was revealed that three days after their wedding, the newlyweds will attend Charles’s 70th birthday patronage celebration in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on May 22.

Charles’s office said more than 6,000 people would attend the event including emergency services personnel who were first on the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a pop concert in Manchester, northern England, on May 22, 2017.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; editing by Estelle Shirbon and Alistair Smout