Wedding plans a royal pain

Marriage of Will and Kate must be grand, but not too expensive

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LONDON | It’s a wedding planner’s nightmare.

The nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton have to satisfy the bride’s family and the groom’s royal relatives - but also a supportive but recession-weary British public. It must be grand, but not ostentatious; regal, but with a common touch; expensive but not a drain on taxpayers worried about their jobs and the nation’s fragile economy.

“I don’t even have enough money for my own wedding, let alone theirs,” said Scott Northgrave, 39, a London construction worker. “They have a fortune, why not use it?”

Who will foot the bill for the wedding, likely to be millions of dollars, is still being worked out, but the royal family knows they must not seem out of touch with the public’s cash-strapped mood. William’s office says “the couple are mindful of the current economic situation.”

Because William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, the ceremony will not be a formal state occasion like the wedding of his grandmother the queen, then Princess Elizabeth, in 1947, or of Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Both Elizabeth and Charles were heirs to the British throne.

Still, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be hard to resist giving the country a day off to celebrate.

“There would be a great temptation to have a public holiday, a day of national celebration,” Mr. Cameron said, giving evidence to lawmakers Thursday.

Nor will the wedding lack in grandeur. Westminster Abbey is the leading contender for a venue after Miss Middleton was photographed leaving the central London landmark Wednesday evening.

Miss Middleton paid a short, private visit to Westminster Abbey in order to be able to consider it as an option,” William’s office said Thursday. “The couple wish for a little more time to be able to consult family members and make a decision for themselves.”

A spokesman for the abbey refused to comment, but it is, in many ways, the perfect venue.

The 1,000-year-old church where British kings and queens are crowned is grand but surprisingly homey, crowded with the tombs of poets, politicians and 17 monarchs.

It has happy and sad memories for the royal family. The queen and her late mother both married there, and Princess Diana’s funeral was held there in 1997.

It can hold 2,200 people - plenty of room for guests - and does not cost anything to book. It is also likely to be available, since the list of people allowed to marry there is limited to members of the royal family, abbey staff and members of the ceremonial Order of the Bath and their families. About a dozen weddings a year are held there.

Money for the festivities could come from the annual $11.6 million in government funding given to the royal household to pay for salaries and official functions, or from the queen’s personal wealth. Charles also is expected to pay some of the bill, and Miss Middleton’s parents - self-made millionaires who run a party-planning business - will probably help out as well.

“I’d imagine that the Middletons would like to make some contribution,” said Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, a guide to etiquette and the aristocracy.

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