Royal Wedding of the Decade Starts in London. President Obama Is Not on the Guest List
The event that the entire world had been waiting for almost half a year is ready to unfold on Friday, as Prince William, second in line to the succession to the throne of England, is to marry Catherine Middleton.
Three hours before the ceremonies started, the Queen Elisabeth II of England announced she bestowed on Prince William the title of Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Cerrickgergus.
By marrying Prince William, Kate Middleton will be Her Royal Highness Duchess of Cambridge.
The wedding has been carefully prepared for the last five months, each detail being thoroughly considered, given that the event involves a future King and a future Queen of England and thus draws the attention of the entire British Commonwealth, and of billions of television watchers all over the world.
The wedding comes at a most appropriate time for the British royal family, considering that during the violent protests in London last autumn Prince Charles and Camilla Parker were involved in an incident where the words “Death to the King” were uttered, probably for the first time since Charles I Stuart in 1649, which means that the British Crown’s popularity had been affected to some point by the economic crisis and the austerity measures it brought with it, an idea on which she built her election campaign last year.
The immense popularity of the event today can remind British people why they love monarchy and are proud of it, and can convince people like Australian PM Julia Gillard to set aside the idea of turning her country into a republic when Queen Elisabeth reigns no more.
On Wednesday night, the couple was spotted by the photographers at the Westminster Abbey, where they rehearsed the wedding ceremony for an hour.
On Thursday, the couple posted on a special site words of gratitude to all the people around the world that showed interest in the event.
Unlike other wedding ceremonies, this one, that aims at surpassing the royal wedding in 1981 between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Prince William’s parents, is characterized by its modernity and by the fact that the couple involved in details of its preparation, such as picking up the music, the flowers, the hymns that are about to be sung.
The decoration, intended to be very romantic, also wishes to foster the idea of “fairy-tale event.”
The cost of the wedding is estimated to reach a multi-million pounds proportion, and will be paid by the royal family and the billionaire family of the bride, while the security in place for the event is estimated to cost about $35 million and will be paid by the British taxpayers, a rather large effort for an austerity budget, many have argued.
The honeymoon is said to include a tour at the famous ruins of Petra, in Jordan, where Kate Middleton spent a part of her childhood.
Such an event has no doubt a serious political implication, which is why the guest list is very, very important.
Thus, there is talk that former PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not invited to attend the moment, whereas John Major and Margaret Thatcher were (Thatcher declined because of health condition).
Royal Palace explained that it is a matter of protocol: Brown and Blair are not Knights of the Garter, which is the highest order of chivalry in Britain.
The most notorious absence seems to be that of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who did not received a mailed invitation.
It is considered that the explanation for this is that inviting Obama would add to the costs of security, especially since he is expected anyway to pay a state visit in May.
French presidential family, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, will also miss out on the event.
Among the 1900 guests invited there are 60 leaders of Queen’s realms (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and two hundred members of government and parliament.
Forty foreign royal families all over the world will be there, 80 guests from the charities William is involved in, 30 people from the army, 60 Commonwealth political figures, and the famous Victoria and David Beckham.
600 people will attend a lunchtime reception after the wedding at Buckingham Palace, and 300 will be guests of Prince Charles for dinner.11