Today the world will witness the Wedding of the Century when Prince William, second in line to the British throne, elder son of heir to the throne, Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, will marry Kate Middleton, daughter of Michael and Carole Middleton.
The couple met while studying at St Andrews University in Scotland. Prince William proposed in October 2010 in Kenya, with his mother’s diamond and sapphire engagement ring.
Kate Middleton and her immediate family spent Thursday night at the five-star Goring Hotel in Belgravia, central London, just round the corner from Buckingham Palace, with Kate staying in the hotel’s Royal suite.
William has chosen his younger brother, Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, as best man. Kate’s sister Philippa, often known as Pippa, will be her maid of honor. There will be four younger bridesmaids and two younger page boys, including two of William’s godchildren.
Clarence House said William and Harry will arrive at Westminster Abbey in a state limousine at 1015 BST today – leaving almost 40 minutes before the ceremony begins.
Wedding Ceremony At Westminster Abbey
Catherine Middleton, the bride-to-be, will leave Goring Hotel at 1051 with her father and travel to Westminster Abbey in a Rolls Royce, rather than horse-drawn carriage as Diana, Princess of Wales did on her wedding day 30 years ago. This is a break from tradition.
Westminster Abbey is over 700 years old and holds 2,200 people. It’s been the site of coronations since William I’s in 1066.
Many royal weddings have taken place here, including current queen, Elizabeth II’s to Prince Philip in 1947. The Abbey is considered a more modest, but fittingly grand, alternative to the larger St Paul’s Cathedral.
The marriage service begins at 1100. The wedding service will be relayed to the gathered crowds by speakers along the procession route, with tens of thousands expected to hear the couple exchange their vows. There will also be screens at Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will marry the couple in an 11 a.m. ceremony that will include several other prominent clergy. The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. John Hall, will conduct the service and the Bishop of London, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, will give the address. Both men have long-standing ties to the royal family.
Kate Middleton is expected to follow Princess Diana’s example by ditching the word “obey” from her wedding vows. Instead she is expected to promise to “love, comfort, honour and keep” Prince William when they tie the knot today.
Prince William the frustration of being denied one typical marriage custom. Once the ceremony is complete and the rings have been exchanged, there will be no royal smooch at the abbey altar for the benefit of the 1,900 guests in attendance. Church of England protocol expressly forbids such behavior, especially in a hallowed site such as Westminster Abbey, one of the world’s most famous churches.
“There will be no kiss during the wedding ceremony,” explained the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, the dean of Westminster and the man responsible for overseeing the spiritual life of Westminster Abbey. “We don’t do that in the Church of England. That’s sort of a Hollywood thing: ‘ You may now kiss the bride.’ It doesn’t happen here.”
For the royal family, too, kissing, it seems, is serious business and must be undertaken only in appropriate situations. When William’s mother, Princess Diana, wed Prince Charles in 1981, the pair also did not kiss in church.
Two choirs, one orchestra, a fanfare team and trumpeters will play at the wedding:
- The Choir of Westminster Abbey, formed of 20 boys and 12 professional singers. The Abbey’s sub-organist will play the organ.
- The Chapel Royal Choir, formed of 10 boys and six professional singers.
- The London Chamber Orchestra, the longest established professional chamber orchestra in the UK. Its 39 members will play from the organ loft in the Abbey.
- The Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, which consists of seven players and their conductor.
- The State Trumpeters of The Household Cavalry, eight trumpeters drawn from the Band of the Life Guards and the Band of the Blues and Royals.
Around 1,900 people have been invited to the main ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
It includes 388 close friends and associates invited by groom Prince William, 28, and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton.
Among them are David and Victoria Beckham, Rowan and Sunetra Atkinson, toff TV presenter Ben Fogle, rugby supremo Sir Clive Woodward, Sir Richard Branson & his wifeand their daughter Doctor Holly Branson, Ms Daniella Helayel (Kate’s favourite fashion designer)and Lock Stock director Guy Ritchie.
Also listed are 254 relatives and friends of the Middleton family – including Kate’s infamous uncle Gary Goldsmith, and Reading FC chairman John Madejski.
The Queen and Prince Charles have drafted a list of 255 VIPs and aristocrats – including 62 foreign Royals and heads of state. A further 1,000 guests, including politicians, senior civil servants and foreign diplomats, received invites via the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.
Brazilian-born Daniella Helayel, who has made clothes for Madonna and Sharon Stone, created Kate’s engagement outfit.
Meanwhile the list confirms best man Prince Harry’s on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy HAS been invited, suggesting they have patched things up.
The biggest snub so far is for Sarah Ferguson, ex-wife of Andrew, Duke of York, who has not been invited.
The couple have asked that members of the public who would like to give them a gift instead donate to charity. They have set up a dedicated website where donations can be made. Charities from Canada, the UK and Australia will benefit and include Oily Cart, New Zealand Government Christchurch Earthquake Appeal and Earthwatch.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds will travel back to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn five-carriage procession, along a set route lined by fans and well-wishers. The route of the carriage procession would pass along The Mall, Horse Guards Road, Horse Guards Parade, through Horse Guards Arch, Whitehall, along the south side of Parliament Square and into Broad Sanctuary.
William and Kate will likely use the 1902 State Landau, which Prince Charles and his first wife, the late Diana, Princess of Wales also used at their wedding. If it’s raining, the newlyweds will revert to the Glass Coach, which has a roof. The white-looking Windsor Greys, which are usually reserved for the Queen, will pull the newlyweds.
The bride’s carriage procession is scheduled to arrive at Buckingham Palace at 1230.
They’ll have the wedding photographs taken in the Throne Room, by Hugo Burnand, who photographed Charles and Camilla’s wedding. Hugo will have just over half an hour to do the main group and individual family groups.
The Balcony Kiss
Prince Charles and Princess Diana produced an iconic moment on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day 30 years ago. As thousands of well-wishers screamed for the newlyweds to pucker up, Diana said to Charles: “Well, what about it?”
Photographs of the resulting kiss were splashed across the front page of every British newspaper and seen around the world.
That balcony moment is due to be repeated by William and Kate, although this time it will be scripted and part of the carefully planned event. There is even an allocated time for the kiss, 1:25 p.m. London time. Several publications reported this week that William and Kate have gone so far as to practice the act to ensure the camera angles are right for the international press.
At 1.30pm. there will be a fly-past by three aircrafts from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – a Lancaster, a Spitfire and a Hurricane – will be followed by two Typhoons and two Tornado GR4s in box formation.
The Receptions & The Wedding Cakes
William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, will host a lunchtime reception for about 600 people at Buckingham Palace after the balcony appearance, with guests drawn from the wedding congregation.
The speeches will probably be done at lunchtime. You’ll have the father of the bride, or maybe Prince Charles, followed by Prince William, and then the best man’s speech from Prince Harry.
There will be two official wedding cakes at the royal wedding reception, William’s cake and Kate’s. Will’s will be a traditional chocolate biscuit cake, made by McVitie’s, the cookie company that has been making British monarch wedding cakes since George V in 1893.
Kate’s cake will be the more stylish multi-tiered fruit cake, made by Fiona Cairns who creates elegant, modern, understated cakes for such icons of cool as Keith Richards and Sir Paul McCartney. Kate’s cake bakers have been legally sworn to secrecy, but the colors will be shades of white and that there will be intertwined initials decorating the cake as well as representations of acorns, the symbol on the Middleton coat of arms. But what stuck out to Mrs. Cairns the most was Kate’s request to include “the language of flowers.”
They will cut the cake with a sword.
After the reception William and Kate will drive back to Clarence House for a rest and then prepare for the evening when Prince Charles will host an exclusive dinner and dance for about 300 peopleat Buckingham Palace for family members and close friends of the newlyweds.
The newlyweds will spend their wedding night in the splendour of the Belgian Suite in Buckingham Palace, the last word in silk-lined splendour. The Queen has set aside the five-roomed Belgian Suite for their wedding night.
After a night of celebrations they will cross the Palace’s stone-flagged floors to the west wing and descend 41 crimson steps to the suite, tucked away at the rear of the Palace.
It has two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and access to the Palace garden and swimming pool. It was named by Queen Victoria in 1837 after her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium. Edward VIII moved in before his abdication in 1936. And Prince Andrew was born there.
Ex-US President George W. Bush, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the Sultan of Brunei have stayed in recent years.
Of course, tradition dictates that William will carry his new bride over the threshold for good luck.
It is believed they may follow royal tradition by heading north to Balmoral on Saturday for a couple of days before travelling overseas for their honeymoon.
Welcome to Lizard Island… and the place where Prince William will be following in his father’s footsteps if, as predicted, he and new bride Kate Middleton make this their paradise retreat after their wedding.
Lizard Island on the stunning Great Barrier Reef of Australia is the jewel in the crown of a breathtaking chain of islands in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland and is one of the top 10 island honeymoon destinations in the world.
The couple would make the 24-hour journey to Australia by first-class flight, most likely on British Airways.
The most luxurious villa on Lizard Island is the Ł2,000-a-night Pavilion, with its own plunge pool and ocean views. It is said to “combine privacy with a spectacular 270-degree panorama of Anchor Bay, Osprey Island and Sunset Beach”.
Once back, they will live on Anglesey, Wales, where Prince William works as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot.