The Royal Wedding: 9 days and counting

With thousands of tourists flooding into London and local media speculating over the details of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, only nine days are left until the big day.

All of the details of the event are already known to the public but one thing remains top secret and will not be revealed until the last minute: Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, which is being kept under lock and key at Clarence House. According to Daily Mail sources, the bride-to-be, who has already become an icon of style, designed the gown herself and then shared her ideas with a dressmaker, whose name is also being kept secret. The gown is said to be ivory satin and lace, with a pearl button detail and a 10-foot-long train. It will be sold at an auction for charity after the wedding.

A Victorian era saying recommends that brides wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” for good luck on their wedding day and Kate Middleton is expected to borrow some pieces of jewelry from her future mother-in-law, the Queen.

Meanwhile, London has been enjoying remarkably warm and sunny weather during the last weeks and meteorologists forecast the heat wave will last through April 29, the royal wedding day, which has been created an extra bank holiday, or a day off.

More than 600,000 additional visitors are expected to arrive in the British capital ahead of the big day with London hotels offering special royal wedding packages. Depending on their financial abilities, tourists may choose between a 200-pound three-night package in 3-star inns to 30,000-pound exclusive packages in the city’s most luxurious hotels.

The royal wedding souvenir market also varies from fake invitation cards, teddy bears in wedding gear, cheap magnets, mugs, plates, towels and all other sorts of memorabilia with images of William and Kate to limited editions of chinaware and even travel cases.

Among them is a limited edition Princess Catherine Engagement Doll, which boasts a striking resemblance to the future queen and features her famous blue dress. While little girls dream of the doll that costs 35 pounds, their mothers can buy a replica Royal Engagement ring.

The genuine Garrard sapphire and diamond ring, which Prince William inherited from his late mother, Diana, cost some $60,000 in 1981 when she became engaged to Prince Charles. Sales of replica rings are expected to exceed 10 million pounds (over $16 million).

The royal wedding itself is estimated at some $50 million and British citizens, not the crown, are to pay for the lavish ceremony. Britain has recently seen massive protests against the government spending cuts and many people are discontent with the royal family’s plans to impress the world with the ceremony amid the economic recession.

And the ceremony at the Westminster Abbey will be undoubtedly impressive with around 1,900 guests invited to attend.

The text of the gold-embossed invitation says: “The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by The Queen to invite … to the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales, K.G., with Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on Friday, 29th April, 2011 at 11.00 a.m.”

More than half will be family and friends. U.S. and French presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy are not on the list but the Middletons did not forget to send an invitation to a butcher, postman, landlord and store manager from their home village of Upper Bucklebury, Berkshire.

Soccer star David Beckham, his wife Victoria and Sir Elton John are among the celebrities invited to the wedding.

Prince Charles, who, according to Clarence House, is involved in every detail of planning, invited some of the world’s royalty, including the Prince of Monaco, the Queen of Spain, the King of Tonga, the Sultan of Brunei and even the extravagant King of Swaziland, who has 14 wives.

Some 650 out of 1,900 guests will be honored to attend the lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace. Only 300 of them will attend a private evening reception.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the Middletons will also stage a reception at the posh Goring Hotel in Belgravia for some 100 family members and friends, many of whom will arrive from other European countries and even Australia but will not be invited to Buckingham Palace.

The Goring will be the place where Kate will spend her last night as a single woman and a commoner with her parents Michael and Carole and her sister Pippa, who will be the bridesmaid.

Prince William will spend his last bachelor night at Clarence House with his brother and best man Prince Harry.

The bridegroom is scheduled to arrive at Westminster Abbey almost an hour earlier than the bride and the ceremony will start at 11 a.m. The wedding procession will go past London’s famous landmarks, including the National Mall, St. James’s Park, Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

Around 1.30 p.m. the Queen, the Bride and Bridegroom, and their families will appear on Buckingham Palace’s balcony.

The Palace will be also the place where the couple will spend the night after the wedding before leaving on their honeymoon, which location is also being kept secret.

The U.S. movie WilliamKate starring Nico Evers-Swindell as William and Camilla Luddington as Kate Middleton will be shown on TV shortly before the wedding telling the story of the couple’s courtship from the moment they met at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.

The royal wedding is expected to be one of the biggest broadcast events in history and may attract a TV audience of over two billion. Thousands of journalists are arriving in London to cover the ceremony.

Millions will be able to see Kate say “I do” on YouTube, which will take the BBC feed at the request of the bride and the groom themselves, the Evening Standard reported.

The ClarenceHouse Twitter account and British Monarchy page on Facebook will also provide live updates on the big day.

Giant screens will be installed in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square to show the ceremony and thousands of Londoners will organize street parties to celebrate the event.

Crowds will be standing along the wedding route to cheer the couple and those wishing to occupy the best places will have to come hours before the ceremony.

Being a spectacular occasion to millions, the wedding will give a headache to London police who have already started searching the area for explosives. Some 5,000 police will ensure security on the big day.

LONDON, April 20 (RIA Novosti, Irina Ryapolova)

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