Prince William's wedding to fit austere times in Britain

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton will tone down some of 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.

St James's Palace, William's offices, said the couple had spent the morning in meetings with household staff about the wedding.

"All options are on the table and they've given us clear direction in terms of dates and venues," a spokesman said.

Staff will now take their thoughts to senior royals such as Queen Elizabeth II and Charles, the government and the Middleton family.

"We will give them the results of that consultation so they are in a position to make a decision," he said.

"They want the day to be as enjoyable as possible, and they are mindful of the economic situation," he added, a reference to the government's major austerity drive.

The couple, sweethearts since their university days, got engaged last month during a holiday in Kenya.

William presented 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."

The St James's Palace spokesman said the prince and his fiancee were still buzzing after their announcement.

"They are still very much on cloud nine and are still enjoying the happy moment," he said.

"They are enjoying talking to friends and family and enjoying one another's company and showing their commitment to each other publicly."

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.

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."

Nonetheless, Westminster Abbey, where Britain's monarchs are crowned, is the bookmakers' favourite for the venue, closely followed by St Paul's Cathedral, where Charles and Diana married.

Bookies also reckon the wedding, set for the British spring or summer, will likely take place in the sunnier months of July or August, though some commentators are leaning towards March.

Money experts were speculating on how big a boost Britain's struggling economy will get from the wedding, with one forecast touching a billion dollars as loyal subjects stock up on fancy food and booze to toast the happy couple.

When they are married the newlyweds will live in northwest Wales, one of the more remote parts of Britain. William is a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot there, based on the island of Anglesey.

Journalist Tom Bradby, reportedly a friend of the couple, who conducted the television interview, told ITV that William wants "a happy, quiet, domestic family life."

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

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