Friends and family – plus foreign monarchs, politicians and the odd celebrity – will fill Westminster Abbey
Royal wedding: Prince William and Kate Middleton will tie the knot on 29 April at Westminster Abbey. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
So, you know how it is: there are people you have to invite, like the relatives you’ve always disliked, but whose fragile feelings you don’t want to trample over. There are those others you feel you ought to have along, such as the folks from Australia you’ve never met.
Should you invite the people at No 10? And how about the couple you bonded with on holiday? Extrapolate those problems to fill Westminster Abbey, which seats nearly 2,000, and you have the guest list for the royal wedding on 29 April.
Chances are that if a buff envelope containing the stiff, embossed card from the Queen hasn’t dropped through your letterbox by now it never will, since they were all posted out in the middle of last week.
“It won’t be a celebrity-filled wedding,” a royal spokesman said. “In general terms, the vast bulk of those invited are friends and family from all walks of life. People who have shared their lives, as children, at university. Just like any other wedding.”
The invitations are triple-tiered. About 1,300 guests are invited to Westminster Abbey, swelled by a further 600 who will attend the Queen’s lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace. A fortunate 300 will rub shoulders at dinner at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Prince Charles after Her Majesty has gone to bed.
St James’s Palace is not confirming exactly who will be coming, but it is unlikely many will turn down the invitation due to other commitments. Weekend speculation has centred on possible invitations for soccer royalty in the shape of David and Victoria Beckham, TV presenter Ben Fogle and Tom Bradby, ITN’s former royal correspondent and now political editor.
Sources close to Ed Miliband have confirmed that the Labour leader has been invited to the abbey. David Cameron goes one step further by being included on the reception list. George Osborne and Nick Clegg will also be at the abbey as part of the six-strong delegation of cabinet ministers..
Among foreign heads of state who have been invited to hold the date free are the king of Bahrain – an invitation criticised by the anti-monarchy group Republic, given the current turmoil in his country – the Crown Prince of Oman, the sultans of Oman and Brunei, kings of Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Tonga, the Emperor of Japan and the royal families of Europe, including the perpetual hanger-on King Constantine of Greece, who has not ruled anywhere for the last nearly 40 years.
More interesting are those apparently not on the list. They include Sarah Ferguson, former wife of William’s uncle Prince Andrew, who has been frozen out by the royals, though the couple’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie have been invited.
The Obamas have not made the cut, though as William is only second in line to the throne they don’t customarily merit an invitation, apparently. They will however be making a state visit and staying at the palace three weeks later. Middleton’s uncle Gary Goldsmith, who was exposed by the News of the World boasting his royal connections while apparently cutting up a piece of cocaine, has received an invitation, but only to the abbey, not the palace.
Meanwhile, the brides’ parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, whose family business, Party Pieces, sells mail order accessories, have been accused of cashing-in on the royal wedding by planning to sell “British Street Party” bunting and decorations, including corgi-themed cake toppers and red, white and blue bowler hats.
The royal website directs inquiries concerning Kate Middleton to palace press officers, but a royal spokesman said, with just a hint of asperity: “It’s not for us to comment. We do not represent Party Pieces. They are a private company.”