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Royal wedding to ease Madrid pain

From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

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Prince Felipe
Letiza Ortiz

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The heir to the Spanish throne takes a national media celebrity to be his bride Saturday as Madrid tries to put aside -- at least for the weekend -- the memory of the March 11 terrorist bombings.

The city is mounting what is described as its biggest security operation as royalty and heads of state arrive for the wedding of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and a commoner, former television news presenter Letizia Ortiz.

More that 23,000 police and security forces have been pressed into service for the event, which is being billed as Spain's "wedding of the century."

Airspace over the city will also be closed.

Despite the celebration, the March 11 train bombings -- which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,400 -- are expected to still be on people's minds, including the Royal Family's.

"When March 11 happened, they were very close to us so we like that a lot. We like that the Royal Family has been with us," says one Spanish woman.

The wedding will be in the same Almudena Cathedral where the Royal Family cried at the state funeral for the bombing victims just two months ago

Last week, the wedding couple went to the Atocha station, hard hit in the commuter train attacks, and then to a school to meet children whose parents died in the bombings.

The couple canceled the bachelor party and bridal shower out of respect for the bombing victims.

They've also asked Madrid to forget the planned street dance, and instead give the money for the event to a victims' charity.

But it will still be a royal wedding with a long red carpet and more than 1,000 guests.

One million flowers have been planted in town, and state television will be broadcasting the wedding live to the world.

Some say the wedding hoopla could actually help the Spanish capital to heal some of the wounds wrought by the terror attacks.

The signs are there, with about 300,000 people hitting the streets each night this week to take in the views of some of the capital's monuments that have been illuminated especially for the wedding.

"The only thing that can justify this is to give the people a moment to party, and a way to defy the fear of terrorism. In other words we'll have life in all its splendor," says Jose Garcia Abad, the director of El Siglo magazine.

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