Royal Ratings: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding Draws 18 Million TV Viewers, NBC Takes Crown

The royal wedding might have started very early Saturday morning, but that did not stop millions of Americans from tuning in to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. Nearly 18 million viewers tuned in to watch coverage on the three main broadcast networks.

According to Nielsen Media stats, 17.6 million viewers tuned in for the wedding on ABC, NBC and CBS between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET, when most of the wedding procession took place. NBC came out on top, with 6.42 million watching the special TODAY Show coverage, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

ABC followed with 6.38 million tuning in to its Good Morning America special. CBS raked in 4.79 million viewers for its broadcast.

Oddly enough, when all is said and done, U.S. viewership of the wedding might pass the U.K. viewership, where 18 million tuned into multi-channel coverage there. Then again, 18 million is about 27 percent of the U.K.'s population, but only 5 percent of the U.S.' population.

Although Markle is an American, the wedding drew less viewers than the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. Almost 23 million Americans tuned in to watch that wedding on U.S. networks.

As Deadline reported back in 2011, British officials estimated that 2 billion people watched William and Kate's wedding worldwide.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding in 1981 drew an estimated 17 million viewers in the U.S.

When Charles married Camila Parker Bowles in 2005, only 3.65 million U.S. viewers tuned in.

Harry and Markle exchanged wedding vows at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday morning. It started at 12 p.m. BST, or 7 a.m. ET and 4 a.m. PST.

Before becoming engaged to Harry, Markle was a star on USA Network's Suits. After the engagement, she announced her retirement from acting and plans to focus on activism for her favorite causes. She is now known as the Duchess of Sussex.

The couple is not heading off on a honeymoon immediately. Instead the Duke and Duchess of Sussex still have some royal duties to complete, including a special event on Tuesday in honor of Harry's father, Prince Charles.

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Their wedding featured several unique elements, including a sermon from American Bishop Michael Curry and a gospel choir's performance of "Stand By Me." Markle also dropped the word "obey" from her wedding vow.

"I Meghan, take you, Harry, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward," Markle said. "For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; according to God's holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow."