Change of plan: It's thought that Prince William and Kate had originally wanted Earl Spencer to give a speech at the ceremony, as he did at Princess Diana's funeral (above right), but perhaps they remembered that he controversially used the occasion to attack the way he believed the Royal Family treated his sister
The Very Best Friends of William and Kate as well as members of the Middleton family and their guests will take pride of place at the Abbey.
But William’s uncle Charles Spencer, who had been expected to deliver an address during the service, will now have no formal role, Palace aides have confirmed.
More than 1,000 of the 1,900 in the congregation will be friends – who have been given the best seats.
The couple’s immediate families and VBFs from St Andrews University, where they met, will have the best view. Close to 500 of them will be seated in the North Lantern and the North and South Transepts and Stalls, which have unobscured views of the Sacrarium where the couple will exchange their vows.
While protocol has dictated that members of Foreign Royal Families and Crowned Heads will be seated next to the Royal Family in the South Lantern, the couple’s friends are spread out.
All the VBFs will have seats towards the top of the Abbey. And many will be seated in the North and South Stalls which have also been reserved for representatives of the Church and members of the Cabinet.
Meanwhile Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer and his fiancee, Canadian charity worker Karen Gordon, will be seated away from the Royal Family on the other side of the aisle. They will sit behind the Middletons, along with Princess Diana’s sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes. Diana’s aunt Lady Anne Wake-Walker will also with the Spencers.
A Palace aide said: ‘The couple have worked tirelessly to get the seating plans just right. They have done all the hard work and I can tell you it has taken months.’
It will take Kate’s father Michael nearly four minutes to walk her down the aisle. His wife Carole will be opposite the Queen, who will be seated next to Prince Philip, then Charles, Camilla and Harry. In the row behind will be Prince Andrew, Beatrice and Eugenie, Prince Edward and Sophie, Princess Anne and her husband Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence. Mr Middleton will sit by his son James, opposite Prince Philip.
Kate’s sister and maid-of-honour Pippa will also have a place with her family, together with her long-term boyfriend, former cricketer Alex Loudon.
Prince Charles’s personal friends, totalling more than 250, have been demoted to the North Nave where their view will be obscured by a giant organ screen which divides the Abbey in two. Seats have been reserved for Camilla’s family members including Tom Parker Bowles and his wife Sara Buys, Laura Parker Bowles and her husband Harry Lopes. Their daughter Eliza is a bridesmaid and Laura will be sitting close to the aisle in case she needs to rescue her three-year-old.
Also in the VIP rows will be William’s friend Harry Meade and his wife Rosie Bradford, Harry Meade’s brother James, known as ‘Badger’, and many members of William’s Glosse Posse set including Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs, daughter of the Marquess of Reading, William’s best friend Guy Pelly, polo players Luke and Mark Tomlinson, Thomas van Straubenzee, who is understood to be helping with Harry’s best man’s speech, and Tom and Victoria Inskip, two of William’s best friends from Wiltshire.
William’s private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who has helped plan the wedding, and his wife Susannah have also been given a key spot in the North Transept – their son Billy is a page boy.
Also invited is William’s former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, whose son Tom is a page boy.
Abbey days: All the 'very best friends' will have seats towards the top of the Abbey, while Prince Charles's personal friends, more than 250 of them in total, have been demoted to the North Nave
William has invited 80 guests from his charities, who will be seated in the general congregation. When Charles married Diana in 1981, 3,500 people packed into St Paul’s Cathedral but the bride and groom were allowed to invite only 120 of their friends.
The Mail on Sunday has been told that Camilla was allowed to go through the guest list with a red pen and several names were crossed out. Among them were Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Princess Diana’s best friend Rosa Monkton, who are both said to be ‘rather upset’. Lady Annabel was exceptionally close to Diana, William and Harry when they were growing up and they were regular house guests at Ormeley Lodge, Lady Annabel’s home in Richmond, West London.
A source close to the Goldsmith family said: ‘Annabel and Rosa feel they have been deliberately snubbed because they were so close to Diana. It’s a shame, they were both a part of William’s life when he was younger.’ Rosa Monkton has written extensively about the hurt Camilla caused Diana during her marriage to Charles.
The most awkward encounter of Camilla’s life took place at the home of Lady Annabel when Diana confronted Camilla at a birthday party.
Charles’s first girlfriend Lucia Santa Cruz, daughter of the former Chilean ambassador, will be at Friday’s wedding.
Cabinet cough up just £35 each for gift
Cabinet Ministers were accused of being mean yesterday after they gave just £35 each towards a collective ‘wedding present’ for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The 23 Ministers, who each earn about £135,000 a year, received letters from Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell telling them £35 was ‘an appropriate sum’.
They raised £805 for the couple’s wedding charity, which supports 26 charities chosen by them. The uniform sum and the decision to give it to charity was agreed by Sir Gus and David Cameron after fears it would be embarrassing if some bought lavish gifts while others gave nothing.
The decision was approved after a Cabinet discussion. Ministers then privately agreed they would all give exactly £35 to avoid one-upmanship. One said: ‘You can imagine the kind of media frenzy there would be if everyone gave different amounts.
It may not be very romantic but it is best if we all do the same.’
Labour MP Tom Watson said: ‘Most people will think £35 is pretty mean-minded coming from well-paid Ministers who can afford to give a lot more, especially when it is going to such good causes. You would raise more money at a jumble sale.’ Nick Clegg and Mr Cameron will also buy the Royal couple separate presents.
Tailsgate: Red Ed’s off to Moss BrosEd
Miliband will hire his morning suit for the Royal Wedding from Moss Bros.
The Labour leader, who doesn’t own morning dress, made the decision after Downing Street announced that the Prime Minister would, after all, wear the traditional attire.
Last weekend, aides to the Labour leader told The Mail on Sunday that he – like the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – was intending to wear a lounge suit.
But once Mr Cameron announced on Wednesday that he was instead going to sport morning dress, Mr Miliband concluded that he should do the same. He decided that wearing a lounge suit would be seen as a statement and that nothing should detract from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big day.
He will be able to hire a morning coat and trousers for £55 from the outfitting chain.
A waistcoat will cost him an extra £12.
He does not, though, plan to wear morning dress to his own wedding to his partner Justine Thornton, which is on May 27.
Who spelt Eton wrong?
There was one howler in the wedding guest list.
One of the guests, Dr Andrew Gailey, was described as Prince William’s housemaster at ‘Eaton’ rather than Eton College.
A Clarence House spokesman described it as a typographical error but declined to unmask the culprit.
Meanwhile, Eton pupils are planning a protest after the school announced it has no plans to celebrate the Royal Wedding.
Boys at the £9,995-a-term school, who will return from their month-long Easter holiday on Wednesday, are upset they must attend lessons while the rest of the country has the day off.
The 1,300 pupils’ only time off will be to watch the service at 11am in their boarding houses before resuming their normal timetable.