T-minus five days until the royal wedding of Wills and Kate, which means the already frenzied coverage is about to kick into overdrive. (And yes — the shuttle launch is the same day, if you’re interested in other out-of-this-world stories.) No detail is too small, no piece of royal trivia too minor — and no chance of a surprise elopement so we can all sleep in Friday morning.
The closest most of Washington will get to the wedding is if they set the alarm to watch the 6 a.m. (EDT) wedding on TV — including President Obama and the first lady, who didn’t get one of the coveted invitations. No snub here: No foreign heads of state made the cut.
So far, we know of only one local couple who’ll be at Westminster Abbey for the nuptials: Joe and Barby Allbritton.
A call to the private media mogul was not returned, but the billionaire owner of WJLA-TV and Politico and his wife are longtime friends of both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The Allbrittons share a love of horseracing (they own a horse farm in Upperville, Va.) and have donated generously to royal charities. They are so close to the Windsors that they were part of the royal procession at Ascot a couple of years ago; Charles is flying to D.C. in Allbritton’s private jet for an official visit the week after the wedding.
Another of the very few Americans on the guest list: Kip Forbes, son of the late Malcolm Forbes and a close friend of Charles, and his daughter Charlotte.
But the vast majority of guests are people you never heard of — just like non-royal weddings. The palace released an official guide to the wedding Saturday, confirming a few VIP names rumored to be attending: Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham, Guy Ritchie (but not ex-wife Madonna), and Joss Stone. There’s a passel of British and foreign royals, including the groom’s uncle, Prince Andrew, and cousins Beatrice and Eugenie — but not Andrew’s ex-wife Fergie, who blew her last chance for royal favor when she tried to secretly sell access to her ex.
The guests are roughly divided into three lists: 1,900 are invited to Westminster Abbey for the ceremony. Of those guests, 650 are going to Buckingham Palace immediately afterward for a champagne reception hosted by the Queen. The real A-list? The dinner-dance that night for 300 of the bride and groom’s family and closest friends.
“It’s like any wedding — who makes the cut and who doesn’t,” said Robert Higdon, executive director of the Prince of Wales Foundation based here in D.C., which partners with the prince’s British foundation for educational and charitable programs.
Despite his long association with Charles, Higdon’s not going to this wedding and didn’t expect to — only William’s personal staff was invited. But he’s known the groom for 14 years and is thrilled about the bride and the wedding.
“I’ve seen them together,” he told us. “They’re very much in love. He lights up when she walks into the room.”
The happy couple get to prove that, in front of . . .oh, a billion or so people watching on the Big Day. A lot of Brits are baffled by the huge interest in America — Wills, after all, is heir to the heir to the throne, which means he might not be king for decades.
Which won’t stop the romantics/obsessives: Wall-to-wall coverage kicks off in the middle of the night, but the hour before (10 a.m. in London; 5 a.m. in D.C.) is when all the good stuff starts: the groom and Prince Harry arrive at the abbey around 5:15 a.m., Charles, Camilla, the Queen and Prince Philip about 30 minutes later. The first chance to see Kate’s gown may be when she leaves the Goring Hotel for the abbey about 5:50 a.m.; then she and her father will walk down the aisle in time for the hour-long ceremony. Royals don’t traditionally kiss at the altar; the big moment is likely to come a couple of hours later, at 8:30 a.m., when the couple stands on the balcony at Buckingham Palace for an RAF fly-over.
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