Prince William and Kate wedding to fit austere times
Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton will tone down the usual pomp and ceremony when they wed next year in line with the country's mood of austerity, palace officials said Wednesday.
William, the eldest son of the late princess Diana and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, will marry his long-term girlfriend in London after an eight-year romance but the venue has yet to be chosen.
The couple, both 28, began Wednesday to work out the details of the event with an eye on the public mood as Britain struggles with deep cuts in public spending designed to slash a massive budget deficit.
"Prince William and Miss Middleton have spent the morning in meetings with household staff about the wedding," said a spokeswoman for St James's Palace.
She added that an announcement about the venue and date would be made "in due course" after discussions with other members of the royal family, government ministers and Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton.
The couple, sweethearts since their university days, got engaged last month during a holiday in Kenya with William presenting his fiancee with Diana's sapphire and diamond engagement ring, in a proposal that Kate described as "very romantic."
Charles said he was "thrilled" and quipped the couple had been "practising long enough", but William said he waited so long before popping the question to ensure that Kate knew what she was getting into by marrying him.
"I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much," William said in a joint TV interview Tuesday.
Earlier, Kate told reporters at St James's Palace that joining the royal family was "quite a daunting prospect but hopefully I'll take it in my stride."
Royal officials say the couple want to be very hands-on in planning their wedding and their first decision will be on the venue, with commentators tipping Westminster Abbey or the more modest military Guards Chapel.
A palace spokesman said they would be "mindful of the economic situation" as they made their plans, a reference to a major austerity drive introduced by the government to pay off a huge budget deficit.
Charles Kidd, an expert on the aristocracy, told AFP a smaller wedding would also reflect "the sort of character that Prince William and Kate Middleton have -- they would probably prefer a slightly more modest affair."
Anti-monarchy group Republic has demanded that taxpayers' money should not be used to pay for the wedding or any extra security arrangements, with spokesman Graham Smith insisting: "The Windsors must cough up."
Journalist Tom Bradby, reportedly a friend of the couple, who conducted the interview following the engagement announcement, told ITV television Wednesday that they were thinking about March for their wedding.
"I think William is very focused on making sure that, yes, he's a royal, but what he really wants is a happy, quiet, domestic family life, and he's pursued that with a certain degree of ruthlessness," he said.
When they are married the couple will live in north Wales, one of the more remote areas of Britain, where William is a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the Royal Air Force on the island of Anglesey.
The couple have already spent a lot of time together in Anglesey and William will return to work on Thursday, according to a spokesman for Clarence House, Charles' residence. He added that Kate had "private plans."
© 2010 AFP