Royal wedding bells to chime in 2011

29th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

An extravaganza of royal glamour should lift the austerity gloom in Britain next year with the wedding of Prince William while Prince Albert II of Monaco will tie the knot in the summer.

The second-in-line to the throne will marry his university sweetheart Kate Middleton on April 29 in what is likely to be the biggest British royal wedding since his late mother Diana married Prince Charles in 1981.

Prince Albert and his South African fiancee Charlene Wittstock, an Olympic swimming star, will celebrate their wedding over two days on July 2 and 3.

"There's a public infatuation (with royal weddings) that you wouldn't believe," French commentator Stephane Bern, who has covered dozens of royal nuptials, told AFP.

"There is a real public desire for these sorts of events, a willingness to beat the gloomy times."

That chimes true in Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government has unveiled deep cuts designed to reign in the kingdom's record high deficit.

Cameron appears to have spotted a chance to make the wedding day -- a Friday -- a release from the gloom, by declaring it a public holiday.

That brought some cheer to Britons, who were pleased at the announcement but not wildly enthusiastic about the ceremony itself, which will take place in London's Westminster Abbey.

In November, pollsters ComRes found that two thirds of Britons were "indifferent" to the big day, despite their general attachment to the monarchy.

"As we go towards it, people will get more interested," predicted historian Jean Seaton.

However, the marriage of William and his fiancee is likely to lack the fairytale glamour of the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, William's parents.

He has given Middleton his mother's sapphire and diamond engagement ring, but the times are very different from the 80s "wedding of the century" and the couple are taking the austere times into account in their planning.

The Windsors seem to have recovered from the 1990s, when three marriage breakdowns, Diana's death and the Windsor Castle fire took their toll on the royals and their image.

Charles' relationship with his second wife Camilla is now widely accepted and the underlying popularity of Queen Elizabeth has not gone away.

Bern said the British royal family was the "ideal model".

"It is evolution without revolution: it evolves from generation to generation, but there are permanent values which remain," he said.

"We are in a period where people need to find their bearings and the monarchy offers a historical marker."

And there will be another British royal wedding next year, as William's cousin Zara Phillips got engaged on December 20.

Phillips, the queen's eldest granddaughter, is to wed England rugby union hero Mike Tindall in a marriage of world-beating sports stars.

Phillips, 29, is an eventing world champion and 12th in line to the throne. Tindall, 32, played in England's 2003 World Cup-winning team.

They met as he celebrated World Cup glory and have largely kept their relationship out of the spotlight in the years since.

They are yet to name a wedding date.

Europe has already been given a taster of next year's royal wedding bonanza with the marriage of Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and personal trainer Daniel Westling.

The June 19 wedding in Stockholm Cathedral was marked by a two-week cultural festival in Stockholm and attended by royals from around the continent.

In Monaco, commentators are convinced that the marriage of Prince Albert will be an even bigger event than his parents' 1956 wedding, which saw prince Rainier tie the knot with US film star Grace Kelly.

"Albert II is known all over the world," said one senior official.

And the glittering setting of Monte Carlo's millionaire's playground will be sure to catch the attention of royal-watchers.

The Monegasque sovereign, 52, met Zimbabwean-born Wittstock, 20 years his junior, in 2000 at a swimming meet in the principality.

They made their relationship public in 2006 and announced their engagement in June.

The prince hailed his future wife's "great sense of humour and insatiable curiosity" in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro.

"Charlene has a very strong personality and I have no doubt of her desire to get involved in things alongside me," he said.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article