- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2011

LONDON | “Kate has chosen her bridesmaids!” “Harry to be William’s Best Man!” Those breathless headlines are what pass for breaking news in Britain these days, as the nation is in full throes of its latest royal obsession — the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Mere minutes after the attendants for the April 29 wedding were announced on Valentine’s Day, major newspapers here — the Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun, even the more sober Independent — had the news splashed across their websites.

Since William announced his engagement to Miss Middleton in November, fits of euphoria have swept across the media, communities all over Britain have planned street parties to celebrate and just about every British industry seems to be trying to find a way to cash in on the royal romance.

Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham is crafting a celebratory beer called Kiss Me Kate, while the Birmingham Mint is peddling commemorative medals depicting the couple.

Tea towels, plates and mugs featuring pictures of the couple are for sale nearly everywhere.

A graffiti portrait of Prince William and Kate Middleton by street artist Rich Simmons in London is probably not quite the wedding portrait they had in mind. (Associated Press)
A graffiti portrait of Prince William and Kate Middleton by street artist ... more >

Now comes word that the couple are sending invitations to 1,900 of their closest friends and relatives, including notables such as Sir Elton John and soccer star David Beckham but excluding William’s aunt, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.

Bookmaker Paddy Power is taking bets on the exact color of Miss Middleton’s dress (ivory? ecru?), the location of the honeymoon and whether Miss Middleton will use the word “obey” in her vows.

The romance also has inspired a comic book, written by Rich Johnston, a graphic novelist based in London.

When asked how the couple respond to this frenzy, Eva Omaghomi, assistant press secretary to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, said: “The couple has always intended for their wedding day to be as enjoyable as possible for as many people as possible.”

To that end, the day has been declared a national holiday. “The wedding of Kate and William will be a happy and momentous occasion,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “We want to mark the day as one of national celebration.”

William met his future bride when they were students at St. Andrews University in Scotland in 2001. After a long courtship, William proposed to Miss Middleton while on vacation in Kenya. He offered her the diamond-and-sapphire engagement ring of his late mother, Princess Diana.

“It is very special to me,” he said at their first news conference. “And Kate is very special to me now as well. It is only right the two are put together.”

Miss Middleton is the daughter of a former flight attendant and an airline officer who have since made millions of dollars selling party supplies. She will become the first “commoner” to marry a future king in 350 years, and will say “I do” at Westminster Abbey, where Diana’s funeral was held in 1997.

Wedding preparations have the swooning press corps speculating wildly about details, such as the designer of Miss Middleton’s dress (to be announced on her wedding day). On any given day, 100 to 3,000 reports about the couple are published.

And the British public?

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