Friday, April 29, 2011

From commoner Kate to HRH: Palace announces Royal couple will become Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

By Rob Cooper

First people arrive: The 1,900 wedding guests are arriving at Westminster Abbey ahead of the service scheduled for 11am

-Couple will travel from Abbey to the Palace in an open-topped carriage

-Two BILLION people to watch wedding today

-5,000 royals enthusiasts camped out overnight at the Mall

-Couple will stay dry as showers won't hit until the afternoon, say forecasters

Kate Middleton will leave behind her commoner roots to become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge when she marries Prince William, Buckingham Palace announced today.

The royal couple will officially become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after they have tied the knot. Prince William has also become the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.

After they marry, the pair will travel from Westminster Abbey to the Palace in an open-topped carriage despite forecasters saying earlier that there is a risk of rain.

Here come the Middletons: Pippa, Kate and mother Carole smile to the crowds as they arrive at the Goring Hotel last night

Almost there: Kate Middleton and her family receive huge cheers in Belgravia ahead of her wedding at Westminster Abbey

The heavens are not expected to open until this afternoon - so William and Kate should stay dry as they arrive at the Palace.

The couple will pass the cheering crowds in The Mall after their wedding ceremony in a 1902 State Landau that was used by Charles and Diana 30 years ago.

Kate is scheduled to leave the Goring hotel at 10.51am this morning to make the short trip to the Palace.

At 8.45am four silver mini-coaches containing dozens of guests left the Goring at 8.45am to be taken to the wedding.

Bridesmaids Lady Louise Windsor, seven, and Margarita Armstrong-Jones, eight, arrived five minutes later, accompanied by pageboy Tom Pettifer, eight, who waved and smiled at the crowds.

Last night, wearing a polka-dot dress, the bride-to-be, accompanied by her sister Pippa and mother Carole, waved to the huge crowd which has gathered outside the hotel in Belgravia last night.

Overnight 5,000 people camped out along the Mall hoping to get a good sight of the couple when they pass in the open topped vehicle later this morning.

With showers forecast for the wedding day there had been fears an enclosed carriage would be used.

But a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed this morning the couple would use the State Landau. It will be led by four horses and accompanied by two horsemen and two footmen.

The decision means tens of thousands of spectators will get a good view of the couple. If it had been raining the couple would have travelled along the one-and-a-half mile route to the palace in a Glass Coach.

Prince Harry, William's best man, and Pippa Middleton, Kate's sister and maid of honour, will follow in two separate Ascot Landau carriages with the young bridesmaids and page boys.

Final preparations: Police officers walk down The Mall this morning ahead of the wedding at Westminster Abbey

Early start: Spectators line the route the royal carriage will take from Westminster Abbey to the Palace later. There will be 1,900 guests at the ceremony

Here come the guests: The first of the 1,900 people with invitations to the service arrive. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will not be there

The second procession will be the Sovereign's Escort mounted by four squadrons from the Household Cavalry.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will ride in a semi-state Landau as will Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who will be joined by Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton.

The horses leading the coaches will be Cleveland Bays, the only British breed of carriage horse, but for the Queen and the newlyweds Windsor greys will be used - traditionally reserved for the monarch.

Last night a beaming Kate showed no sign of nerves ahead of her marriage today to Prince William.

And royal fans had an extra treat last night as her husband-to-be greeted well-wishers along The Mall.

Prince William, accompanied by his brother Harry, shook hands and chatted with the crowd near Clarence House.

Yesterday morning, Kate was greeted by cheers at the abbey as she was joined by best man Prince Harry - as well as the bridesmaids and pageboys and members of her family - for one last run-through of the big day which will be watched by 2 billion people round the globe.

Later on, the Duchess of Cornwall went out onto the Mall to meet well-wishers and those camping out ahead of today’s event during an impromptu walkabout.

Final preparations: Staff dress the balcony at Buckingham Palace from where Prince William and Kate Middleton will appear later

Westminster Abbey begins to fill up with guests more than two hours before William's bride arrives

When asked how she was feeling ahead of the big day, the duchess said: 'We’re all ready for tomorrow - it’s wonderful and all very exciting!

'There’s a great atmosphere out here and it’s so nice to meet people and see how the celebrations are getting underway.'

The journalist who carried out the couple's engagement interview said they were attempting to 'block out the terror of having two billion people' watching them.

In a personal message to well-wishers, the couple said they were 'incredibly moved' by the affection shown to them since their engagement in the official wedding programme.

Normally it falls to the Archbishop of Canterbury to write the introductory message, but the couple broke with tradition.

A St James's Palace spokesman said: 'The couple felt that they wanted to put in a message from themselves.'

Following in the footsteps of Diana, Miss Middleton will not promise to 'obey' Prince William in her vows.

With William choosing not to wear a wedding ring, only the prince will say 'With this ring I thee wed' as he places the golden band on Kate's finger.

Yesterday the Syrian ambassador was told he is no longer invited after the slaughterings following the uprisings.

Royal supporters: A U.S. fan from Houston, Texas poses with a replica of Kate's engagement ring, left. Right, a wellwisher from Bedfordshire who was lining the route to the Palace this morning

Prince William greets well-wishers along The Mall ahead of his wedding

Best man: Prince Harry joined his brother on the stroll near Clarence House

During today's marriage ceremony there will be one Lesson, which the couple have asked Miss Middleton's younger brother James to read.

William's father the Prince of Wales his stepmother Camilla, Kate's parents Carole and Michael and her sister Pippa will all act as witnesses and sign the marriage registers during the ceremony.

After a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace, the Queen will leave - and miss Harry's best man speech and the evening party.

She will head out of the capital with the Duke of Edinburgh for a private weekend, leaving the newlyweds to party the night away at a black tie evening reception with their friends.

Family arrive: Kate's uncle Gary Goldsmith leaves his west London home in a £280,000 Rolls Royce Phantom convertible, left, and Miss Middleton's brother James leaves the Goring hotel, right

Security operation: A man is restrained by police officers outside Westminster Abbey this morning as a huge ring of steel is thrown up around the capital

Waiting is over: Union Flags in The Mall this morning ready for the newly-married William and Kate to marry later

Tent city: 5,000 people slept on The Mall to guarantee the best spots along the wedding route, including this man curled up in his sleeping bag

Buckingham Palace said the Queen would hear a number of speeches at the lunchtime canapes reception for 650 guests, including family, friends, foreign royals, dignitaries and charity workers.

She will see the bride and groom cutting their lavish multi-tiered wedding cake.

As final preparations get underway, rain had been threatening to put a dampener on the big day. However, by choosing the open carriage, William and Kate appear confident that the heavens won't open on them.

Alison Cobb, a meteorologist with Meteogroup, said yesterday there was a 'real risk' of Kate Middleton being rained on as she steps from her limousine at 11am to enter Westminster Abbey on her father's arm.

Yesterday a new close-up shot of the couple was released with the pair wearing matching open-necked white shirts as they smile broadly, with Kate leaning towards William.


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