UK

Speculation grows over royal wedding venue and date

Prince William and Kate Middleton at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, after William received his RAF wings from his father the Prince of Wales.
Image caption William will marry 30 years after his parents' wedding

Speculation over the venue and date of Prince William's wedding has increased, after fiancee Kate Middleton visited Westminster Abbey on Wednesday.

St James's Palace said the 28-year-old made a "short, private visit" to the Abbey to "consider it as an option".

Westminster Abbey hosted the weddings of the Queen and Queen Mother and was the venue of Princess Diana's funeral.

Prime Minister David Cameron said having a bank holiday to mark the occasion was "a very good idea".

The venue and date are expected to be announced in the next few days.

The royal wedding will take place in London next spring or summer, although the couple are thought to favour a March date.

A spokesman for St James's Palace said "all options were on the table" and the royal couple had given "clear direction in terms of dates and venues" but wanted "a little more time to be able to consult family members and make a decision for themselves."

He said: "Now our job is to consult with the relevant parties - the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, the Middletons and other parties - and report back.

"We will give them the results of that consultation so they are in a position to make a decision."

The couple were "still on cloud nine" after announcing their engagement, he added.

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Media captionDaniela Relph explains why Westminster Abbey is emerging as the clear favourite for the next royal wedding

Miss Middleton visited Westminster Abbey - which has been the coronation church since 1066 - on Wednesday evening with aides, after it was closed early for the private visit.

Prince William was unable to make the trip as he had returned to north Wales - where the couple plan to live after they are married - to continue his RAF work.

Speculation has also focused on St Paul's Cathedral and the smaller Guards Chapel, where the 10th anniversary memorial service for Princess Diana's death took place, as other possible venues.

The policing bill for the wedding - to provide security for the public and guests who could include world leaders and royalty from across the globe - could run into tens of millions of pounds.

The spokesman stressed the prince, who is second in line to the throne, and his bride-to-be were conscious of the country's economic situation.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said Buckingham Palace would want to "send a very definite signal that it is not on the lavish scale of the Charles and Diana wedding of 30 years ago, that it will be a royal wedding suitable and appropriate to the times."

Anti-monarchy group Republic said taxpayers should not have to pay any money towards the event as the wedding should be "private".

But the chief executive of VisitBritain, Sandy Dawe, said the wedding would be a great tourist attraction and was "bound to generate more visitors from overseas."

Mr Cameron made his comments about a possible bank holiday to mark the occasion while appearing before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, saying the idea was "a debate we ought to have".

He added: "If it's in the middle of the week it'd be a very good idea to have a bank holiday, and even if it's at the weekend."

In response, a spokesman for St James's Palace said: "Prince William and Miss Middleton are grateful for the prime minister's comments.

"They also support the idea of a bank holiday but they recognise that this is very much a matter for the government."

Meanwhile, Sir Tom Jones has offered to sing at the ceremony.

"I have always been a royalist and I always will be. If they invite me along to the wedding I'd happily come and sing a few songs," he said.

'Excitement and anticipation'

The news of the engagement triggered congratulations and widespread news coverage around the world.

And US President Barack Obama said he "sends best wishes" to the couple, according to a White House spokesman.

After the announcement was made on Tuesday, the Queen said she was "absolutely delighted" for the couple and Kate Middleton's parents Michael and Carole said they were "thrilled".

Prince Charles said he was "thrilled, obviously" about the engagement, joking: "They've been practising long enough."

Image caption Jewellers say they have already had orders for copies of Miss Middleton's engagement ring

Speaking in a joint television interview, the prince said he gave his fiance his mother Diana's engagement ring, having carried it in a rucksack for three weeks.

"It's my mother's engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all - this was my way of keeping her close to it all," he said.

His bride-to-be called the late princess "an inspirational woman" and said that joining the Royal Family was a "daunting prospect" but something she hoped to take in her stride.

The spokesman for St James's Palace said Miss Middleton will give up her job working for her parents' business Party Pieces once she joins the Royal Family.