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Countdown to the Royal Wedding

Aired April 9, 2011 - 14:30   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to London. I'm Richard Quest at Buckingham Palace, the home of British royalty. In three weeks, hundreds of guests will be here to help celebrate the royal nuptials, the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

There's so much to tell you about this royal wedding, which is why each weekend until then, I'll be bringing you royal stories leading up to the main event.

Among the 1,900 guests invited to the wedding is the former king of Greece, King Constantine II. He is family and close friend to Britain's royals, a cousin of Prince Charles, and godfather to Prince William himself. He can surely give us insight into what it will be like on the royal big day.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN ACHOR: You'll be there at the abbey?


QUEST: The reception?


QUEST: The evening?


QUEST: You're one of the lucky. You've got all three tickets.


What will your thoughts be? Where will you allow your mind to go?

KING CONSTANTINE II: My mind will go to one specific place, that this young couple remains a very happy couple and help each other for the rest of their lives and always keep in the back of your mind you are there for one purpose, service to the people, that's all you're there for.

QUEST: Are you surprised at the amount of interest that there is in this wedding?

KING CONSTANTINE II: I really am not surprised. There are many aspects why. First, they are both young, good looking, happy, in love, and of course, he will one day succeed his father to the throne. So that makes the mystique and makes everybody excited about it, and I think makes people happy.

QUEST: When you heard that they were going to get married, let's face it they were going out for a very long time, so it wasn't a huge surprise, what was your initial reaction?

KING CONSTANTINE II: I always hoped this would happen, that he would find somebody he really loved, and most importantly that she really loved him, that they'd live together for the rest of their lives, especially in this very difficult job he has to take up one day.

QUEST: You've known him all his life, haven't you, since he was born?

KING CONSTANTINE II: That's correct, absolutely. And I was touched and thrilled when his father rang me up and asked if I would be his godfather. What impresses me about the young man, he takes his life seriously, but he's got a fantastic sense of humor.

It's important today, because he's a young person, and his father's ahead of him, he can't waste his time. He has to do something constructive, and he's done that.

QUEST: It's not just he has to wait, god forbid for when her majesty passes on. He has to wait for the next generation to pass on.

KING CONSTANTINE II: That's the way the system works.

QUEST: Kate Middleton has to learn this, and she has to learn that her role may not come to be for another 20-odd years.


QUEST: Is that difficult?

KING CONSTANTINE II: As long as she is able to understand that she has to give all the support she can to her husband, to see him through the transition that's going to happen in his life, it's going to be vital for him. I don't believe for a moment that she will have any problems with that. She really is a very intelligent young lady.

QUEST: It's quite interesting. It's not often we've ever had an event like this you had ordinary commoners with royalty, a big wedding. It's very different in that sense.

KING CONSTANTINE II: It makes it more fun. It makes it more fun and it's more interesting. It's more humane, the whole thing.


QUEST: Wonderful insight from King Constantine.

With around three weeks to go to the big day, preparations are now really ramping up and we need to have a round-up of the main developments.

Kate has been waiting almost a decade to marry William, so asking their guests to arrive two and a half hours before the ceremony shouldn't be too much to ask. Palace officials said 8:30 a.m. is when most of the 1,900 guests have been asked to show up.

If you can't see any of it in person, the royal wedding will be broadcast live on gigantic screens at two central London locations. Londoners and visitors alike can picnic at Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. Free live screenings of the royal festivities will take place.

Days after the wedding, Prince Charles will travel to Washington to meet President Obama. Official state travel for royals must be officially sanctioned by the British government.

Finally, ladies, can your nail salon do this? has unveiled, look closely, royal nail decals. These dress-ons come complete with William and kate official engagement photo. You'd have to come to London to get one because they're all sold out online. There's plenty of good royal wedding news at our Web site

After the break our journey takes us to the Tower of London, where we'll hear about the food that will be served for William and Kate's wedding reception.


QUEST: Welcome back to our special royal wedding coverage.

This is the Tower of London, magnificent, isn't it? The relationship between the royal family and the tower goes back many centuries. It's been a palace, a fortress, a menagerie, and yes, of course a prison even for the king's wives -- not that Kate needs to worry.

This is a memorial to those who were beheaded here at the Tower of London, including three queen consorts, the most famous of which being Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife. She was beheaded with a sword. She still rests in the chapel.

The white tower is newly restored and gleaming. It's the oldest part of this palace complex started in 1078. The tower also has its souvenirs -- $60 for a plate, just $15 for a pin cushion.

After a couple of hours at the tower I'm ready for an ice cream. After several hours of the wedding, the guests will be ready for a banquet. Max Foster reports what Buckingham palace is likely to serve up.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the basement of Buckingham Palace a team of 21 chefs will make nearly 10,000 bite-sized canopies for the guests invited to the reception. MARK FLANAGAN, THE ROYAL CHEF: Any canopy is all about the last minute. There's a lot of preparation but lots that we would like to do earlier that we really can't do until we see the guests coming into the room.

FOSTER: The canopies will be carried upstairs on trays and plates to the spectacular state rooms.

This is home to arguably the finest private art collection in the world.

JENNIFER SCOTT, ASSISTANT CURATOR OF PAINTINGS: The 19 state rooms which are used during state functions, drip with opulence. They really are intended to make people think, wow, this is an incredible palace.

FOSTER: This is also a working palace, a staff of 60 upstairs will attend to the guests' every need and this is the level of detail, using an antique measuring stick to make sure every glass sits a certain distance from the table's edge, a perfect line, a perfectly polished glasses ready to be handed to the guests, including monarchs, prime ministers and diplomats.

During this most exclusive of wedding receptions, the public will get a chance to see the newlyweds. About half past 1:00 we expect them to come out on the balcony for what's bound to become an iconic moment in history when Prince William kisses his princess.

Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.


QUEST: Joining me to give us perspective on the day and the various parts of it, Sarah Haywood, the ultimate wedding planner extraordinaire. We look at this day, several bits, you've got the abbey, reception one and reception two. Who is in the abbey?

SARAH HAYWOOD, WEDDING PLANNER: People in the abbey are family, friends, foreign royals and dignitaries and charities, people who must be acknowledged in the setup.

QUEST: Who gets to go to reception number one, hosted by the queen of Buckingham Palace?

HAYWOOD: Close family, close friends and foreign royals.

QUEST: A lot of them, 600 of them.

HAYWOOD: Yes, there are a lot of foreign royals, a lot of royal families throughout Europe, and there's protocol as to who arrives when, who sits down before the other, so they've got a lot of headache organizing that.

QUEST: Different parties will have a very different feel to them. HAYWOOD: I think the second party, the evening party I think we'll see the couple change. I think there's all this talk about a dress, we might see a slinky evening dress on Kate, champagne flowing at the beginning, a fabulous meal, lots of fun going on, followed by dancing. And we know that the royal family loves a party.

QUEST: Thank you very much. The question of what Kate will wear, never-mind the slinky evening dress, more importantly what about the long, white dress that she'll walk down the abbey wearing. When we come back in just a moment, the British fashion experts believe they know what it will look like.

Here's our trivia question of the week. We are young members of the wedding party. We are not related, but we have a special relationship to Prince William. Who are we? Tweet your answer to @RichardQuest. Use the hash tag "royalwedding," or send me an e-mail to Memorabilia mugs for the first correct answer pulled from the pile.


QUEST: You can see these chaps all around the tower of London. They are the yeoman warders, better known as the beefeaters because they used to get a daily ration of beef and beer. Their uniform goes back to 1485. Kate Middleton's dress will be newer and only has to last one day. Rita now reports what the dress might look like.


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The dress Diana wore when she married Prince Charles was seen as the most guarded secret in fashion history. But now rumors surrounding Kate Middleton's dress are heading fever-pitch, especially since it was reported that Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen, will be designing the dress.

Burton became director of the dress when Alexander McQueen died last year. She had worked mostly behind the scenes. And while her appointment shown a spotlight on the career this commission if true is one that casts her into the fashion stratosphere.

HILARY ALEXANDER, "DAILY TELEGRAPH": This is a big, major royal wedding, quite ceremonial, quite religious, a lot of protocol, and the dress needs to suit the occasion.

RAJPAL: McQueen reps denied the appointment and the royal family's cleric's house refused to comment saying, quote, "It is Katherine's wish to keep the designer a secret until the wedding day."

While Middleton has been frequently compared to William's mother, Diana, many believe the wedding dress will be different. Bridal designer Ian Stuart says while the opulence of Diana's dress was a contrast to the tough economic times Britain was facing in 1981, he believes the future queen of England will go a different route.

IAN STUART, BRIDAL DESIGNER: I have a feeling that it won't be a big dress. I have a feeling it will be kind of like fishtail or mermaid style, quite figure hugging and flaring out from beneath the hips. I think she's fully aware of what she's marrying into and she knows that she has to come out there with a certain amount of strength and diva-ishness in her wedding dress.

RAJPAL: To ensure utmost secrecy, the dress is being made behind the secure walls of Buckingham Palace. All will be revealed when Kate steps out of her car at the steps of Westminster Abbey on April 29th.

Monita Rajpal, CNN, London.


QUEST: If you can't get enough information about Kate Middleton there's more coming your way. CNN's Soledad O'Brien brings you this special CNN documentary "The Woman who would be Queen" right here on CNN.


QUEST: Imagine you're the queen, about the same height, give or take, and of course I'm coming up to meet you, your majesty. A bit of etiquette is necessary here, isn't it?


QUEST: I walk up to you?

HAYWOOD: You're told to walk up toward me and a gentle nod of the head, not a full ornate bow.

QUEST: None of this sort of?

HAYWOOD: Not too subservient. You must not put your hand out to her majesty. You wait for her to extend her hand to you. The first time you greet her, you would greet her as "your majesty."

QUEST: Your majesty.

HAYWOOD: Thereafter "ma'am," as in jam.

QUEST: Ma'am, as in jam, not "marm" as in farm.

HAYWOOD: Correct.

QUEST: Would it be permissible to say "Lovely day, ma'am, lovely day."

HAYWOOD: I think she would appreciate it. It's going too far just hold it there while I get my phone out and take a picture. That would be the ultimate faux pas.

QUEST: They say it's every girl's ambition to become a princess like perhaps Kate Middleton. But what if you're not born royal? Can you learn how to behave properly? Well, we've been to an etiquette class held by the woman who wrote this book, "True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Why did you decide princess prep?

JERRAMY FINE, "PRINCESS PREP" FOUNDER: Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a princess, so I wanted to create a program for other little girls that had the same dream.

You smooth your dress, and you put one leg behind, one, two, three.

QUEST: So what are you telling these young ladies about being a princess?

FINE: We're teaching them to nourish the qualities of a princess that exist in every little girl, so manners, etiquette, kindness, service, duty, compassion.

QUEST: That's a lot.

FINE: That is a lot, but every little girl can do it.

Pretend you're a princess, and you're at a ball. You're going to be as regal and royal and lady-like as possible. You're making turns, going back and forth. It looks so easy. Look at that. Curtsy to William and Kate. Good job.

QUEST: What are the do's and don'ts do of being a princess?

FINE: Now everyone try to sit like a princess. I think you're not allowed to be selfish. You have to live your life for everyone else. It's a lot about sacrifice and thinking about others.

QUEST: Now, let's talk about the royal wedding. Who is getting married?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prince William and Kate.

QUEST: Prince William and Kate. And are you going to watch the royal wedding?


QUEST: Do you want to be a princess?


QUEST: You don't? Why not? You want to be a princess?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be one.

QUEST: Why do you want to be a princess, Sophia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you get rich.

QUEST: You get rich. (LAUGHTER)

And you were really good with a book on your head. Was it hard?


QUEST: Would you like to marry a prince?



QUEST: If the royal princesses to be learn nothing else on their special day, at least they'll learn one trick that who knows --

FINE: Wave like you're at Buckingham Palace --

QUEST: -- they may get to use in the future.


That's our royal wedding special for this beak. Do join Anderson Cooper, Piers Morgan, and me, Richard Quest, on April the 29th. We'll be live at Buckingham Palace in Westminster Abbey. There's always room for one more guest. I'll see you next week.