Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and his bride are to be married is the favorite site for coronations. In fact, kings and queens of England have been crowned there since William the Conqueror in 1066. Seventeen monarchs have their final resting place there. The building that stands now was started in 1245. For Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, tiers and galleries were put in so that 8,200 people could fit in instead of only 2,000.
Many people are surprised when they find out that a royal can marry a commoner like Kate. But that is not a problem. The difficulty arises if the intended is a Catholic. The Act of Settlement, passed in 1701, states that royals cannot marry a Catholic. Kate is not Catholic, but Autumn Kelly, who married Peter Phillips, Prince William’s cousin, had to convert to Anglicanism. Otherwise, Peter would have had to give up his succession rights to the crown.
Kate Middleton rivals Princess Diana in the style department. She is viewed as one of the best-dressed women in England and regularly shows up on the lists that keep track of such things. She also appears in magazines such as Vanity Fair and People.
Curtsying might not seem like such a big deal. But there is a strict protocol that goes with the gesture. There is even an order to the curtsying that depends on the distance of the royal ladies and the consorts from the throne. When Kate marries William, the curtsy order will be the following:
Queen Elizabeth, Kate, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Windsor, Zara Phillips, Lade Sarah Chatto, Lady Davina Lewis of Gloucester, Lady Rose Gilman of Gloucester, Lady Helen Windsor.
As it turns out, Kate’s step-mother-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and second wife of Prince Charles should curtsy to Kate. But this only holds if Prince Charles is not in the room. Then there is no curtsying.
May 6, 1960 marked the first televised royal wedding. On that day, Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth, married Antony Armstrong-Jones. There were about 20 million viewers. The couple divorced in 1978, and Margaret died in 2002.
It has been a while since a foreign princess married a British royal. The last on was Princess Marina of Greece, who married Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1934. Prince George was the fourth son of King George V. Prince George was killed in a plane crash during World War II.
It is facts like these that can make an event like the Royal Wedding Watch Party at Union Station even more fun. Showing off one’s knowledge can help pass the time as the guests file in to wait for the ceremony to begin.
The Watch Party begins at 3:00 a.m., so there will be plenty of time to trade trivia. Of course, many people will want to take advantage of the free admission to Diana, A Celebration, until 6:00 a.m. and the $5.00 admission from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. Union Station will show the wedding live and repeat the broadcast all day. A reception in the evening, beginning at 5:00, will feature the official royal wedding cake and champagne. The reception is free to Union Station members and $8.50 for non-members.