With just three months to go until the royal wedding, it seems that everyone from their grandmothers to ex-tabloid reporters have been weighing in and commenting on the wedding details. I've just returned last week from one of my regular trips to London, and I was astonished to hear some of the media stories that have been circulating -- many of which a Buckingham Palace spokesperson I spoke to declared to be "entertaining but untrue." In fact, there's so much misinformation out there that it's become a joke within royal circles.
The most relentless rumor is that Bruce Oldfield will be designing Kate's wedding dress. As early as mid-December, I've known, through my royal contacts, that it isn't Oldfield but rather a little-known British designer who has previously worked with the Middleton ladies. I've released this exclusive on Huffington Post, which was subsequently picked up by media outlets around the world. I can also reveal now that the designer is a young woman.
Insiders at the palace informed me that this designer was chosen not in the last few weeks but much earlier on in December, and I was also the first to report that the dress is being made inside Buckingham Palace under the tightest of security.
Of course, Oldfield became the focus again with renewed speculation that he is the designer when Kate's mother and sister were photographed visiting his Beauchamp Place shop a couple of weeks ago. Don't forget that the mother of the bride needs to find something to wear to the wedding herself. It should be noted that the Middletons visited the designer's dress boutique and not his bridal salon across the street. Even though Oldfield has remained discreetly tight-lipped about all the rumors, at this point, he has already received so much free publicity, it almost doesn't matter if he's not the wedding dress designer.
A few days ago, Julien MacDonald was mentioned as another possible designer, and he coyly said that he's been sworn to secrecy and can't talk about it. Well, if he's really the wedding dress designer, then he wouldn't even be able to say that he's sworn to secrecy. I'm told that the palace is irritated that some establishments have been suggesting their association with the wedding for publicity.
Then there's the story that Kate will be spending her last night of freedom with family and friends at the Goring hotel, which has been entirely booked by the Middletons on the week of the wedding. If that's the case, then how is Kate planning to get dressed and be ready on the morning of the big day? Will the wedding dress be sent to the hotel that morning or earlier in the week? What about the security considerations, not to mention the media who will be staking out the hotel (like they did at the Emmanuels' studio when they were designing Diana's dress) trying to find out what the gown looks like?
Considering that Kate, like all brides, is determined to keep what the dress looks like a secret, does she really want the world to get their first full glimpse of it when she's getting into the car/carriage at the hotel rather than when she arrives at Westminster Abbey? Unless the Goring is planning to put up something to block the media's cameras at their entrance, it'll rather spoil Kate's big surprise, won't it? After all, who can forget the huge roar of excitement from the crowds as Diana alighted from the glass coach at St. Paul's Cathedral and everyone saw that magnificent dress for the first time? It was one of the most magical moments of the wedding.
That's why royal brides such as Diana and Sarah Ferguson, who got married in London, stayed at Clarence House the night before the wedding, and also left from there to go to the church. There's usually a reception at Buckingham palace the night before the wedding, and afterwards, William will go back to his apartment in St. James's Palace and Kate will spend the night at Clarence House.
The high walls surrounding Clarence House prevents prying lenses and shields the bride from view on the wedding morning. In Diana's case, it also shielded her from the rather undignified process of getting inside the glass coach. Due to the size of Diana's voluminous dress and her record-setting 25 ft. train, it took half an hour for attendants to figure out how, and then get Diana and her father Earl Spencer into the coach. Friends of mine, who were there that day, witnessed Diana having to enter the coach backwards, and after sitting down, her long train was gently folded and placed onto her lap. Her father, who was not a small man, got in after her.
Then there's the coach vs. car controversy. My palace contacts told me that since Prince William's announcement that Kate will be arriving at the Abbey by car, millions of letters from around Britain and abroad have flooded into Buckingham Palace -- the majority of them not happy about the bride traveling in a car. The British monarchy is renowned for its pomp and pagentry, and that's what the public wants to see. For those who will be camped out for days along the wedding procession route, and for the anticipated billions of TV viewers worldwide, they want to have the whole royal extravaganza with the bride arriving in the fairytale glass coach. The Queen is said to feel that if you're going to put on a show, then go all the way and do it right. Behind palace walls, the wedding as it stands at the moment, has been nicknamed, the "half-a-wedding."
As I've reported earlier, the Queen is also not pleased about having both a proper, sit-down wedding reception - which is the tradition, and then having a big dinner and party at the palace a few hours later. In order to accomodate the evening reception hosted by Prince Charles, aides now have to find a different format altogether for the earlier function, and the details are still being ironed out. Fait Accompli, an outside caterer which organizes garden parties for the palace, might be brought in, which is reportedly ruffling the feathers of the Buckingham Palace chef who has always been in charge of the wedding breakfast reception.
There are rumors, largely unfounded, that William's stag (bachelor) party will be held first in London and then in Capetown. Wherever the top secret location is, it's not hard to guess that it will be a night full of fun and ample drinking, as is the norm with all bachelor parties -- royal or otherwise. Especially since it's being organized by Prince Harry, who is known for his naughty sense of good fun and hardy partying. There is also a story circulating that the royal princes' regular nightclub Mahiki is supplying the alcohol and sending them to Clarence House in preparation for the stag party. However, I've spoken with someone from William's inner circle of friends (and stag party attendee) while I was in London, and although he stayed largely mum about the event, he did tell me that the Mahiki connection is "highly unlikely."
Stayed tuned for more updates separating the facts from the fiction surrounding the royal wedding.