Double wedding in BritainLondon Log by CHOI TUCK WO
While one pair are royals of the real world, the other are royals of British soap.
After decades of one of the country’s most tumultuous and public love affairs, the two couples will finally tie the knot on Saturday.
Needless to say, both couples are looking forward to their big days after having overcome numerous trials and tribulations.
While the royal wedding has run into one snag after another, including questions about its legality and Camilla’s title, the fact that the on-off romance of one of television’s best-loved couples could survive 26 years continues to amaze many.
Just as the love lives of the Prince of Wales and his bride-to-be are followed closely by many, the same goes for the on-screen, off-screen courtship of Ken and Deirdre, played by Bill Roache and Anne Kirkbride respectively.
By a strange coincidence, there are uncanny similarities between the two marital match-ups, even before the culmination of the same wedding date.
Apart from both marrying the second time, the royal engagement was announced in the same week as that of the television soap veterans.
In 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married within 48 hours of Ken and Deirdre’s first wedding.
Interestingly, Ken and Camilla have what are probably the scariest mother-in-laws in the world.
Having said that, the royal wedding will be witnessed by just 30 guests, mostly close members of both families, compared with a worldwide television audience of 750 million during the fairytale wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981.
Now, however, the couple will wed in the intimate surroundings of the Ascot Room in the 300-year-old Windsor Guildhall, situated in the heart of Royal Windsor.
Despite the numerous controversies surrounding the marriage, thousands of well-wishers, including tourists, will travel by train, bus or car to Windsor to witness the royal wedding.
With attention focusing on the wedding, the programme will kick off with the royal couple leaving Windsor Castle shortly after 1pm, in a 1962 Rolls-Royce Phantom V previously used by the Queen Mother.
They will be driven to the Windsor Guildhall, about 80 steps away where thousands of people are expected to line the route to catch a glimpse of the couple.
Once inside, they will head for the Ascot Room where the 20-minute legal ceremony is to be conducted by Superintendent Registrar Clair Williams.
Princes William and Harry will be present, along with other members of both families, as the couple exchange wedding rings made with 22-carat gold from the Clogau St David’s mine in Bohtddu, North Wales.
The couple will be driven back to Windsor Castle where they will be joined by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for prayer and dedication at St George’s Chapel.
About 750 guests are expected to attend the 45-minute service, which will be presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
The blessing will be followed by a buffet reception in the castle’s State Apartments, normally used for state functions.
Interestingly, Prince Charles has ordered a special wedding cake from a commoner, in his endeavour to establish closer links with the people.
The £3.99 (RM27.93) market stall fruit cake was specially made by 74-year-old grandmother Etta Richardson, after it was sampled by the prince during his visit to West Wales last summer.
The couple will later leave the castle for honeymoon at Birkhall, the Queen Mother’s holiday home near Balmoral Estate.
Without a doubt, the world’s media have booked entire hotels, shops and offices opposite the Windsor Guildhall that offer vantage points to record the historic event.
As expected, most hotels are charging exorbitant rates, especially those situated opposite the castle’s main entrance, with some demanding anything from £1,000 (RM7,000) to £3,000 (RM21,000) per night for balcony rooms.
Initially meant to be a closed-door affair, the British media – BBC, ITV1 and Radio Four – were finally allowed live coverage of the religious service while Channel Four, Five and Sky One will carry run-ups and extended footage of the chapel service.
Many souvenir shops are cashing in on the occasion, selling a huge array of royal paraphernalia ranging from mugs to T-shirts to commemorate the big day.
Stephen Edwards, manager of Urbanblue Ltd, just a few doors away from the Windsor Guildhall, said he had sold more than 100 T-shirts depicting the prince flexing his muscles like a bodybuilder, with the Queen and Camilla in similar poses.
Inderjit Dhillon, owner of Dillons Crafts & Woollens Centre nearby, said his royal souvenirs, ranging from tea towels, bags, letter openers, plate mats and coasters, were selling very well.
“All my 172 fridge magnets have been sold out. The popular items are tea towels and mugs,” he said.
While the memory of the late Diana may still linger in many people’s minds, there will be those who will wish the royal couple a happy and everlasting love life.
After all, they have endured so many years of a clandestine relationship and deserve a chance to live together as a legally married couple.