With less than a week to go before the royal wedding, I'm in London for The Huffington Post where I'll be bringing you coverage from the heart of all the festivities. On the day of the wedding, I'll also be joining the BBC as a special royal commentator.
If the estimated figure of 2 billion viewers is correct, this will be the most-watched televised wedding in history and one heading straight for the record books. But here's what I'll be watching for:
Now that I broke the news on April 16 that Sophie Cranston is believed to be the royal wedding dress designer, will Kate change the gown she'll be wearing on the big day? It's been reported that three dresses by three different designers had been commissioned in case the name of her choice is leaked.
So far, every designer that has been tipped as the royal wedding dressmaker has denied his or her involvement. As expected, Cranston also issued a denial to the rumors that she has been chosen -- partly due to the unprecedented media attention she has now received, which must be quite overwhelming for a small designer. So no surprises there. What is a bit surprising is that for the first few days after the news came out, Cranston had maintained a "no comment" stance when asked, rather than denying it outright, which is what Sarah Burton and other rumored designers had done.
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There are many who think that a denial doesn't necessarily mean that the designer is not making the dress. Both Sarah Burton and the CEO of Alexander McQueen have categorically denied that their fashion house has received the commission to make Catherine's wedding dress, yet that hasn't stopped the ongoing speculation that Burton is still a contender. Okay, so for some, Burton's denial doesn't rule her out, yet Cranston's denial indicates that she's no longer in the running?
In the meantime, it's interesting to see that Catherine has been photographed while out shopping earlier this week wearing a black Issa dress which features many of the same style details found in Sophie Cranston's dresses: flutter sleeves, a deep V-neckline, a figure-accentuating wrap dress. Coincidence or not, it's clear that the royal bride-to-be is a fan of both Issa and Libelula's style aesthetics.
Whatever happens, I can confirm that Catherine brought her own ideas, and definitely had input in collaborating with the designer on how her wedding dress will look. Like most 29-year-olds, Catherine has developed her own taste in fashion and knows what suits her. However, that's a far cry from saying she designed her entire gown herself, and then asked Cranston to make it -- as London's Daily Mail suggested in a follow-up story the day after my report. If Catherine really designed her own dress, then why would she even need to commission a designer? She could have just hired a good tailor.
As I've said before, I won't be the one to spoil the bride's big moment by revealing the exact design and specifics of her gown. Catherine has indicated that it's her biggest wish to keep that a secret and surprise Prince William. Since so many are interested in the dress, I will say that, in general, Catherine's embroidered gown with a train will be more classic and feminine than avant-garde -- so don't expect a "Lady Gaga" moment. As for those who sniff at the bride-to-be's conservative style saying she isn't a fashion risk-taker, I suppose they'll be happy if she arrives at Westminster Abbey in an egg, wearing a latex skirt and a feathered Mohawk headdress.
From what I was told, Catherine chose the tiara she will wear on her wedding day right after the engagement announcement, and before she decided on her dress. Usually, it's the other way around -- the dress is designed first and then the tiara is chosen, but not this time. There have been rumors that she now wants to wear flowers on her head instead. So unless she really has changed her mind regarding the tiara, I anticipate that we will see one of the more modest-sized tiaras from the royal vaults crowning her wedding outfit.
The Glass Coach?
Well, that depends on whether it rains. I'm not the only person who would like to see the glass coach instead of the car on the day of the wedding. Somehow, there's just such a "fairy tale" element to it. How often does a commoner becomes a princess? If it does rain on April 29, the newlyweds will leave the Abbey in the enclosed glass coach. We only get to see a major royal wedding like this in Britain maybe once every 30 years, so if you're going to put on a spectacular show with all the pomp and pageantry for which the British monarchy is renowned, you might as well go all out. It's like saving your best china and dishes for a "special occasion." Well, this is it! At the moment, they are predicting sunny skies on the wedding day so it looks like it'll be the grand State Landau carriage that will take the newlyweds to Buckingham Palace after the ceremony.
The Bridal Party
Aside from Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton, the bridal party consists entirely of young children. There's four-year old Eliza Lopes (Camilla's granddaughter), spirited eight-year-old Margarita Armstrong-Jones (the Queen's great-niece) and three-year-old Grace van Cutsem (William's god-daughter) to name a few. Sure to be adorable but also a possibility of some naughty antics to amuse us. Who can forget four-year-old Prince William at Prince Andrew's wedding where he pulled faces, stuck his tongue out at a flower girl, and used the string on his hat to cover his eyes? Diana kept shooting him warning looks but ultimately had difficulty keeping a straight face.
Prince William had apparently invited four of his exes to the wedding and Catherine two of hers so it might be interesting keeping an eye out for them -- wonder if there are any regrets in that group? Prince Harry's on-and-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy is expected to be at the wedding, and no doubt raise speculation if a permanent reconciliation is on the cards.
With only a sprinkling of celebrities, most notably Sir Elton John and the Beckhams, which includes a heavily-pregnant Victoria, there will be a lot more royals spotting instead. Some of the best-known and most stylish royal ladies expected at the Abbey include Queen Rania of Jordan, Letizia, the Princess of Asturias, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden who got married in spectacular fashion last June. Prince Albert of Monaco will also be attending along with his fiancée Charlene Wittstock, and they will have their own wedding in July. Prince Albert's mother Princess Grace attended Diana's wedding in 1981, and sadly, Diana represented the British royal family at Grace's funeral just a year later.
Betting topics at the bookies have ranged from the length of Catherine's train, to whether Prince Harry will forget the ring, to what color hat the Queen will wear to the wedding. Just for the heck of it, I'm going with a blue hat.
Of course, if we knew the answers to all these questions, what would the fun be? I agree with William and Catherine that some details should be kept a secret. There's just enough to whet the appetite, but not enough to spoil the crescendo of the big moment. Let the show begin!