Prince William to wed in April at historic London abbey
Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry on April 29 next year at Westminster Abbey, the historic London church where his mother Diana's funeral was held in 1997, royal officials announced Tuesday.
The couple want to turn their wedding day into an international party in what is set to be the biggest royal event in Britain since William's parents Prince Charles and Diana married in 1981, aides said.
William, second in line to the throne of 16 realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is to tie the knot in the same church where the first king William was crowned in 1066 after the Norman conquest of England.
"The venue has long associations with the royal family -- it is in many ways the royal family's church -- and of course with Prince William personally," said Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the prince's private secretary.
"We know that the world will be watching on April 29, and the couple are very, very keen indeed that the spectacle should be a classic example of what Britain does best."
April 29 is also the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, whose first name Middleton shares.
The wedding is to be paid for by the royal family and the Middletons, with the government meeting the security and transport costs, in a bid to ease public concerns as Britain faces harsh economic austerity measures.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the day, the first Friday after the Easter weekend, would be marked with a special public holiday.
"The wedding of Kate and William will be a happy and momentous occasion. We want to mark the day as one of national celebration -- a public holiday will ensure the most people possible will have a chance to celebrate on the day," he said.
The date and venue were announced a week after the 28-year-olds revealed their engagement, capping a romance that began at St Andrews University in Scotland nearly eight years earlier.
The couple could be taking a risk with the weather. April is renowned as a rainy month in Britain, with bookmakers giving odds of 5/4 there will be showers on the day, as there were for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in June 1953.
But the couple wanted the day to be a right royal party, said officials.
"Their view on it would be: 'let's have a party,'" Lowther-Pinkerton said. "Consequently the day will be a proper celebration for the nation and the realms."
He added that William and Kate were "completely over the moon" about their engagement, adding: "I've never seen two happier people."
Westminster Abbey, which sits next to the Houses of Parliament, is an imposing gothic abbey which has been the coronation church since William the Conqueror in 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs.
Princess Diana was buried in the abbey after she was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997, amid scenes of national mourning. She and Prince Charles married in 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, and divorced in 1996.
Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip there in 1947. William's aunt Princess Anne and uncle Prince Andrew also had their respective weddings at the abbey -- -- though they both ended in divorce.
The wedding has given Britain a boost as it battens down the economic hatches ahead of budget cuts aimed at cutting the country's huge deficit, and with its armed forces mired in a 10th year of war in Afghanistan.
Plans for the guest list, which is expected to include several heads of state, for who will conduct the service and for Middleton's wedding dress are still being drawn up.
William wants any members of the armed forces involved to come from those already on ceremonial duties, so as not to detract from ongoing operations.
The engagement announcement was followed by weekend opinion polls in Britain calling for William to leapfrog his 62-year-old father Charles to the throne when Queen Elizabeth dies -- a constitutionally problematic notion.
© 2010 AFP