- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LONDON (AP) - Now it’s all about the details: The dress, the date, the venue _ and who’s going to pay.

Prince William and Kate Middleton sat down with advisers Wednesday to begin planning the royal wedding that some Britons have waited years to see _ and the British media settled in for months of juicy speculation.

The second in line to the throne and his long-term girlfriend will marry next spring or summer, but they haven’t announced a date _ some say May is likely, others August _ or a venue.

Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral, where William’s parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana married in 1981, are considered the front-runners.

A royal spokesman said the couple “spent the morning in meetings with household staff about the wedding” and would be closely involved in organizing all the details.

“It’s very much their day like any other couple, and they will make the decisions all the way through _ they want the day to be enjoyable for everybody,” he said, speaking anonymously in line with palace policy.

But others will also have a say. Palace officials said an announcement of date and venue would be made “after other members of the royal family, Mr. and Mrs. Middleton and the government have been consulted.”

It was too early to estimate its cost or how much the taxpayer will have to stump up _ a touchy issue at a time of widespread budget cuts and austerity measures across Britain.

“I think it is just silly to ask us to pay for the wedding. We wouldn’t ask them to pay for our wedding, so why should we foot their bill?” said Anna Simons, 35, an IT consultant from Hammersmith. “It is their wedding, not the country’s.”

The spokesman for William’s office said “the couple are mindful of the current economic situation.” He stressed that the wedding would not be a state occasion _ unlike the one for Charles and Diana _ because William is not the sovereign or the heir to the throne.

“However, given his seniority, you can expect formal or ceremonial elements,” he said.

The cost of the event could come from the annual 7.9 million pounds ($11.6 million) of government funding given to Queen Elizabeth II’s royal household to pay for salaries and official functions, or from her own personal wealth.

At the very least, taxpayers will have to pay for the costs of security, with a large number of police needed.

There will, however, be a boost to the British bottom line. Travel group Visit Britain said the monarchy generated 500 million pounds ($800 million) a year for the economy from overseas tourists, adding “the benefit of a royal wedding year is likely to outstrip that.”

Prime Minister David Cameron led lawmakers in the House of Commons on Wednesday in congratulating the couple on their “wonderful news.”

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