The wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine “Kate” Middleton is scheduled to take place at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. William, who is second in the line of succession to Queen Elizabeth II, first met Middleton in 2001, while he and Middleton were studying at the University of St Andrews. Their engagement, which began on 20 October 2010, was announced on 16 November 2010. After the wedding, the couple intend to continue residing on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, where Prince William is based as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot.
Clarence House announced on 16 November 2010 that Prince William, elder son of the Prince of Wales, was to marry Catherine Middleton, William’s long-time girlfriend, “in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London”. They were engaged in October 2010 while on a private holiday in Kenya; William gave Middleton the same engagement ring that his father had given to William’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales—an 18-carat white gold ring with a 12-carat oval sapphire and 14 round diamonds. It was announced at approximately the same time that, after their marriage, the couple will live on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where Prince William is based with the Royal Air Force.
The Prince of Wales said he was “thrilled … they have been practising long enough”, and Queen Elizabeth II said she was “absolutely delighted” for the couple, giving her formal consent to the marriage, as required by the Royal Marriages Act 1772, in her British privy council on the morning of the engagement. Congratulations also came in from the Queen’s prime ministers, including Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, who has moderate republican leanings. Further, Pete Broadbent, suffragan Bishop of Willesden, who has known republican views, published his reaction to the wedding announcement on Facebook. He later acknowledged that his words were “offensive” and subsequently apologised, but his superior, Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, instructed him to withdraw from public ministry “until further notice”.
Following the announcement the couple gave an exclusive interview to ITV News political editor Tom Bradby and hosted a photocall at St. James’s Palace. On 12 December 2010, Buckingham Palace issued the official engagement photographs; these were taken on 25 November, in the state apartments at St. James’s Palace, by photographer Mario Testino.
The original engagement announcement stated simply that the wedding will be “in the spring or summer of 2011”. On 23 November 2010 the date of Friday 29 April 2011 was confirmed. It was later announced that the day will be declared a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom, formal confirmation being made by the Queen in Council on 15 December 2010.
As 29 April falls six days before elections for the Scottish Parliament, this has attracted political comment in Scotland. John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, stated that the date was “unfortunate” and was “likely to see the Royal Family getting caught up in political debate”.
Prince William is the elder son of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. As such, he is second, behind his father, in the line of succession to the throne in 16 independent states known as the Commonwealth realms. William was educated at Ludgrove School, Eton College, and the University of St Andrews, after which he was commissioned from Sandhurst in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry. He later transferred to the Air Force and went on to become a full time pilot with the Search and Rescue Force.
Catherine “Kate” Middleton is the eldest of three children born to Michael and Carole Middleton. She was educated at St Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, Marlborough College, and the University of St Andrews. After graduating, she worked in retail and then as an accessories buyer/catalogue photographer at her parents’ business. She is primarily of English descent, but with a few distant Scottish and French Huguenot ancestors. Her paternal family came from Leeds, West Yorkshire, while her mother’s maternal family, the Harrisons, were working-class labourers and miners from County Durham.
The couple met while undergraduates at the University of St Andrews, where they both lived at St Salvator’s Hall during their first year, after which they shared accommodation in the town for two years. They are fifteenth cousins—having Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife, Agnes, as common ancestors—and are possibly twelfth cousins once removed, circumstantial evidence suggesting that they are both descended from Sir Thomas Leighton and Elizabeth Knollys.
On 23 November 2010, Clarence House announced the date for the wedding as 29 April 2011 and the venue as Westminster Abbey, a Royal Peculiar founded in AD 960. Although the abbey has been the traditional location for coronations since 1066, it has only recently been the church of choice for royal weddings; prior to 1918, most royal weddings took place in the royal chapels such as the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The abbey, which has a usual seating capacity of 2000, has been the venue for recent royal weddings, including those of Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) to Prince Philip (1947), Princess Margaret to Anthony Armstrong-Jones (1960), Princess Anneto Mark Phillips (1973), and Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson (1986).
It was also announced that the costs of the wedding itself will be met by the Royal Family and the Middletons themselves, while the costs of security and transport will be covered by the British treasury. The couple have also asked that donations be made to charities in place of traditional wedding gifts; to that end, they established The Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund, which focuses on assisting charities such as the New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and theZoological Society of London.
From 8.15 am, the main congregation, governors-general, prime ministers of realm countries, and diplomats will all arrive at the abbey. Prince William and Harry are then due to arrive by 10.15 am, followed by foreign royals, the Middleton family, and, lastly, the Prince’s family (the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall). As is tradition, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be the last members of the Royal Family to leave Buckingham Palace, arriving at the abbey for 10.45 am. The bridal party will then leave the Goring Hotel in time for the service to begin at 11 am. The service is to finish at 12.15 pm, after which the newly married couple will travel to Buckingham Palace in a procession consisting of other royal family members, the parents of both the groom and bride, the best man, and the bridesmaids. At 1.25 pm, the couple will appear at the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch a fly-past consisting of Lancaster, Spitfire, and Hurricane aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, followed by two Typhoons and two Tornado GR4s.
The route of the couple
The route of the bride and groom goes between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, by The Mall, passing Clarence House, by Horse Guards Road, Horse Guards Parade, through Horse Guards Arch,Whitehall, the south side of Parliament Square, and Broad Sanctuary.
St James’s Palace announced on 5 January that the ceremony is to start at 11:00 local time and that Middleton will arrive at the abbey by car rather than by carriage (the latter is the traditional transport for royal brides.) The planned route is along The Mall, through Horse Guards Parade, and down Whitehall to the abbey. After the ceremony, the bridal couple will return along the same route by carriage to a reception hosted by the Queen atBuckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales is to host a private dinner that evening.
In a break with royal tradition, the groom is to have a best man—his brother, Prince Harry—rather than asupporter, while the bride has chosen her sister, Pippa, as maid of honour. The couple will have four bridesmaids—Lady Louise Windsor, the seven-year old daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex; The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the eight-year old daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Linley; Grace van Cutsem, the three-year old daughter of the couple’s friend Hugh van Cutsem; and Eliza Lopes, the three-year old granddaughter of the Duchess of Cornwall. Two page boys are also to participate: William Lowther-Pinkerton, the ten-year old son of William’s private secretary Major Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton MVO MBE, and Tom Pettifer, the eight-year old son of William and Harry’s former nanny, “Tiggy” Pettifer MVO.
The Dean of Westminster will officiate for most of the service, with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, conducting the marriage ceremony itself and Richard Chartres, theBishop of London, giving the sermon. It has long been traditional for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England‘s most senior bishop, to officiate at the weddings of England’s monarchs and future monarchs, but as Chartres is a close friend of the Prince of Wales, he was invited to take part in the ceremony.
Clarence House announced that two choirs, one orchestra and a fanfare team will perform the music at the wedding service of Prince William and Middleton at Westminster Abbey. These are the Westminster Abbey Choir, Chapel Royal Choir and London Chamber Orchestra, and a fanfare team of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The choirs will be directed by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey. The Abbey’s Sub Organist, Robert Quinney, will play the organ. The Organist, Choir Master and Composer at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal is Andrew Gant. The London Chamber Orchestra will be conducted by Christopher Warren-Green, who is its Music Director and Principal conductor. The fanfare team will perform under the direction of Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs, whose own composition, Valiant and Brave, will be performed as the royal couple sign the wedding register.
The Queen will host a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace. The reception will start after the arrival carriage with the married couple. It will be a private gathering for guests drawn from the congregation who will represent the couple’s official and private lives. During the reception, the couple will give an appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony. The East front of the palace contains this well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside. Guests will be served with canapés at the reception. The Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales, Claire Jones, will perform at the reception. The reception is expected to finish in the mid-afternoon.
In the evening, The Prince of Wales will give a private dinner, followed by dancing, at Buckingham Palace for the couple and their close friends and family.