Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
The engagement of Prince William of Wales and his longtime girlfriend Catherine (Kate) Elizabeth Middleton was announced by Clarence House on 16 November 2010. The couple became engaged during a vacation in Kenya in October. Prince William gave Catherine his mother’s engagement ring, an 18-carat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds, which was on display during the photocall later on the day of the announcement. William and Kate also gave an interview to Tom Bradby, political editor at ITV News. For the photocall and interview Kate wore a dark blue dress by Issa, one of her favourite designers.
On 23 November it was announced that the wedding would take place at Westminster Abbey on Friday 29 April 2011, and that the royal family and the Middleton family would pay for the ceremony. The Government has designated the day a bank holiday.
On 7 December some guidelines were issued for royal wedding souvenirs.
On 11 December the official engagement photos were released. They were taken by Mario Testino on 25 November in the State Apartments at St James’s Palace.
At the end of December the Royal Mint released the design of a commemorative engagement coin, the first time a coin has been struck to commemorate a royal engagement. It is a £5 noncirculating legal-tender coin created for the Channel Island of Alderney and is available in silver, gold-plated silver, and gold. The design has been widely criticised for bearing little resemblance to the couple and for being an unflattering portrayal of Kate.
On 5 January 2011, further wedding details were released, including the officiants and the processional route. There had been speculation about whether the Archbishop of Canterbury would conduct the service or whether the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, a friend of the Prince of Wales, would do so. The information provided covered the following points.
- Kate will travel to the Abbey by car, via The Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and Parliament Square. It’s also being reported that William and other royal family members will travel to the Abbey by car rather than horse-drawn carriage.
- The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. (meaning that male guests will wear morning suits and females will wear formal day attire and hats – no long dresses or tiaras). The Dean of Westminster will conduct the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury will marry the couple, and the Bishop of London will give the address.
- There will be a carriage (not car!) procession back to Buckingham Palace along the same route taken by Kate on her way to the Abbey. The Queen will host a reception for the couple and those wedding guests who are close to them personally or officially. Then in the evening the Prince of Wales will host a dinner and dance for the couple and their close friends and family. This means there won’t be a going-away photo-op on the afternoon of the wedding.
There’s still no word on the designer of the wedding dress or the identity of bridesmaids, but the announcement did say that further details about the wedding day will be made in due course.
On 2 February the BBC reported that the vellum for the marriage certificate would be made by the Newport Pagnell firm of William Cowley.
On 4 February it was reported that Canada Post would be issuing two royal wedding stamps on 2 May 2011. The designs have not been released yet.
On 8 February the Prince of Wales’s press secretary confirmed that the wedding would not be shot in 3D.
On 9 February the Queen gave formal consent to the marriage under the Royal Marriage Act of 1772 at the Privy Council meeting.
On 14 February the members of the wedding party were announced by Clarence House. Prince William has asked his brother, Prince Harry, to be his best man. This is a departure from the usual practice at royal weddings where a groom has supporters rather than a best man. Kate’s sister Philippa (Pippa) is to be maid of honour, and the other bridesmaids are Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (7-year-old daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex), the Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones (8-year-old daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Linley), Grace van Cutsem (3-year-old daughter of Hugh van Cutsem, a friend of Prince William’s), and Eliza Lopes (3-year-old granddaughter of the Duchess of Cornwall). The pageboys are Billy Lowther-Pinkerton (10-year-old son of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Private Secretary to Princes William and Harry) and Tom Pettifer (8-year-old son of Tiggy Pettifer, William’s nanny after his parents’ separation). Grace van Cutsem and Tom Pettifer are William’s godchildren.
On 19 February details of the list of wedding guests were released although the names of individual invitees were not given. A total of about 1900 invitations to the wedding were sent out on Wednesday and Thursday, with 600 people being invited to a lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and 300 people being invited to an evening reception hosted by the Prince of Wales, also at Buckingham Palace. Around 1000 invitations have been sent to family and friends of William and Kate, 100 to British and foreign royals, 200 to government members and diplomats, 60 to Governors General and Prime Ministers of realms where the Queen is Head of State, 80 representatives of Prince William’s charities, and 30 representatives from the military.
On 2 March the official royal wedding website was launched.
On 3 March the Royal Mint announced that it will be issuing a coin to commemorate the wedding, and that the coin will be legal tender after being approved by the Privy Council.
On 15 March it was announced that the music for the wedding had been chosen, and details of the musicians were made available. The music will be provided by the Westminster Abbey choir, the Chapel Royal choir, the London Chamber Orchestra, the Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, and the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. Music at the reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace following the wedding will be provided by Claire Jones, the Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales. The music will be released digitally by Decca Records.
On 16 March it was announced that William and Kate have set up a charitable gift fund so that people wishing to commemorate the wedding with a gift to the couple may make a charitable donation instead. The fund’s website is here.
On 21 March it was reported that Prince William and Kate will leave the Abbey for Buckingham Palace in the 1902 State Landau, the same coach in which The Prince and Princess of Wales returned from their wedding in St Paul’s Cathedral. In the event of seriously wet weather, the Glass Coach will be used instead. Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton (the best man and the maid of honour), along with the young bridesmaids and pages, will follow in two Ascot Landaus. The Queen and Prince Philip will follow in a semi-state landau, and finally The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, along with Mr and Mrs Middleton, will ride in another semi-state landau. Kate will travel to her wedding at Westminster Abbey in the same 1977 Rolls Royce Phantom VI that Charles and Camilla were using when they were attacked during the student protests last year.
On 27 March it was announced that the official wedding cake would be made by Fiona Cairns, a cake designer from Leicestershire. Reversing the trend toward American-style cakes, the wedding cake will be a multi-tier traditional fruit cake, although the design is likely to be more contemporary than is usual for royal wedding cakes, with hand-modelled sugarpaste flowers rather than royal icing decorations. There will also be a chocolate biscuit cake provided by McVitie’s Cake Company at the request of Prince William.
On 29 March the Royal Mail released details of the royal wedding commemorative stamps, which will be available from 21 April, the Quee’s birthday. The stamps will feature the engagement photos taken by Mario Testino.
On 1 April, details about the involvement of the Armed Forces were made available. Members of the Army, Navy and Air Force will be lining the streets between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, and bands and musicians from all three branches of the Armed Forces will be playing along the route and in the Abbey. The 1st Battalion Irish Guards will be providing the Queen’s Guard for the day, and the Guard of Honour at Buckingham Palace will be provided by the Welsh Guards. The Sovereign’s Escort and the Captain’s Escort for the bride and groom on their return to Buckingham Palace will be provided by the Life Guards and Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
On 15 April, details of the timing of the ceremony were posted. It was confirmed that Kate would be staying at the Goring Hotel with her immediate family the night before the wedding. Prince William is due to arrive at the Abbey at 10.15; Carole Middleton will arrive just before 10.30, followed by members of the royal family; the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will arrive at 10.45, a few minutes after the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall; and Kate and her father will arrive at 11. The bride and groom are scheduled to leave the Abbey at 12.15 and arrive at Buckingham Palace at 12.3o. The balcony appearance is at 1.25 pm, with a Royal Air Force fly-past at 1.30.
On 20 April the official photographer for the wedding was announced: Hugo Burnand, who took the official wedding photos for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be doing likewise for William and Kate.
On 21 April, the Queen’s 85th birthday, the official royal wedding stamps were made available by the Royal Mail. The stamps feature the engagement photos taken last year by Mario Testino.
Also on 21 April, the Instrument of Consent, the document in which the Queen formally gave her consent for the marriage under the Royal Marriage Act of 1772, was made public. The Queen’s consent was actually given on 9 February.
On 26 April, details about the floral arrangements at the Abbey and Buckingham Palace were released. The floral displays are being created by Shane Connolly, a floral designer known for an emphasis on sustainability, suggesting some input from the Prince of Wales. The displays will include trees, which will be planted in the gardens at Highgrove after the ceremony.
On 28 April the Order of Service was released.
For more information and commentary, see the following blogs and websites:
Photo of William and Catherine in Wales by Flickr member Brian the Euphonium, used with permission.
Official engagement photographs of William and Catherine by Mario Testino, used with permission from the Press Association and Art Partner.
Collage by Kelly Lacroix, used with permission.
Photo of Westminster Abbey by Flickr member Liam Goldstein, used under Creative Commons licence.