LONDON — The bride will arrive by car and leave in a carriage, as befits a newly minted princess.
Those key details and others about the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton emerged Wednesday in advance of their April 29 wedding at Westminster Abbey.
Prince Charles’ representative broke weeks of silence with a statement that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will marry the couple in an 11 a.m. ceremony that will include several other prominent clergy.
The wedding of William — a young Navy helicopter rescue pilot who is second in line for the throne — and Middleton, his girlfriend and confidante for nearly eight years, is expected to draw a gigantic global audience via television and the Internet.
The palace also lifted the secrecy surrounding the processional route the newlyweds will take from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace — information deemed vital to those hoping to get out early and catch a glimpse of the couple as they glide by in a horse-drawn carriage.
The parade route, likely to be thronged by well-wishers regardless of the weather, will take William and Middleton through the storied heart of ceremonial London, where so many joyous and solemn occasions have been marked.
Palace officials said the Queen, William’s grandmother, would host a reception at Buckingham Palace after the wedding ceremony, with guests drawn from the wedding congregation.
The reception guest list has not been released, but palace officials said it will be drawn from members of the wedding congregation who make up both the couple’s official and private lives.
The night of the wedding, Prince Charles is to host a dinner and dance at Buckingham Palace for family members and close friends of the newlyweds.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, told The Associated Press that he was surprised that Middleton has chosen to arrive at Westminster Abbey by car rather than in a carriage.
“It’s not unprecedented, but we automatically assumed Kate would be in the glass coach, as was the case with Diana and with Sarah Ferguson,” he said. “But obviously that was decided against. We don’t know why, it might have been seen as ostentatious.”
Other traditions have changed with the times, he said.
“In the old days there would have been a wedding breakfast for the immediate family, but this will be a much bigger reception, with many more people attending, a more inclusive affair,” he said.
In addition, he said, the Queen is not hosting a ball a few nights before the wedding, as she would have done in the past, and instead Charles is hosting a gala event the night of the wedding.
“It’s slightly different,” he said. “Change is not necessarily a bad thing.”
Officials said the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. John Hall, will conduct the service and the Bishop of London, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, will give the address. Both men have long-standing ties to the royal family.
The wedding update cleared up many important questions about the schedule but leaves many more issues open to speculation.
High on the list are the matter of which star designer will be asked to make Middleton’s wedding gown, and which celebrities will be on the guest list.
It is also not clear who will provide the music — older folks with knighthoods, icons like Paul McCartney and Elton John, who performed flawlessly at Diana’s funeral — or a younger, dizzier crew that might appeal more to the newlyweds and their friends?
The official wedding guest list is also closely guarded information, with palace officials emphasizing that the wedding is not a state affair that will be driven by protocol concerns. No information has yet been released about couple’s honeymoon plans.
Britons and visitors hoping to take part in the event can try to see the carriage during the parade, when it will travel through Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and the Mall, or they can gather near Buckingham Palace, where William and his bride are expected to emerge into public view briefly on the balcony.
This is the same balcony where William’s parents, Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales, kissed after their 1981 wedding, and where wartime leader Winston Churchill joined the Royal Family to wave to the public in triumph at the end of the Second World War.
It is possible a kiss may be in order at that point.