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Countdown to Royal Wedding

Aired April 23, 2011 - 14:30   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. Welcome to London. If everything goes according to plan in less than a week's time at exactly 1:25 on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Prince William will kiss his new bride Katherine in front of hundreds of thousands of people in front of the palace and many millions more watching on TV worldwide.

It will be the repeat of a tradition started 30 years ago when his parents, Charles and Diana, kissed on that same balcony after their wedding.

So come along for the ride as we now look forward to the big day, less than a week, the royal wedding.

So where will the couple spend their last night of singledom? For Prince William, it will be the London home of his father, Prince Charles, Clarence House and St. James's palace. Also here will be the best man, younger brother Prince Harry. One can only imagine what the late night tittle-tattle will be before the wedding.

And this is where Kate Middleton and her family will spend the night before the wedding, the very posh and expensive Goring hotel in London. The hotel has spent more than $200,000 refurbishing the suites the family will use. We assume the dirty dancing, taxi, and Edgar's cool water won't be here on the day. But the hotel will have erected an awning over the front door so we won't get a sneak preview of the dress.

Kate and William's courtship has been royal to be sure, but in a modern context. The couple currently live together, and just like any other couple, there were times when the relationship was on the rocks. As part of CNN's documentary "The Women who would be Queen," Soledad O'Brien now looks back at the time when Kate and William split up.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, as we look at the courtship of William and Kate, you can't help but take a look at the history of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, two couples heading down the same path, but for William, a dramatic move to make sure the same mistakes weren't made.

According to biographer Christopher Andersen, everything came to a head on Valentine's Day 2007.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, "WILLIAM AND KATE": She thought she would be getting that proposal. Instead, he gave her a Van Cleve and Arpels' enamel compact. They started to quarrel bitterly. She really demanded that he commit, as they say. And William wasn't ready for it. He went to his father, Prince Charles. Prince Charles said you can't keep stringing this girl along. If you're not ready to ask her to marry you, break it off. Unfortunately he listened to his father's advice.

O'BRIEN: A father perhaps trying to prevent history from repeating itself.

MARY ROBERTSON, FRIEND OF PRINCESS DIANA: Charles would have been perfectly happy staying a bachelor indefinitely.

O'BRIEN: Mary Robertson was Diana Spencer's boss and friend when she was dating Prince Charles in 1980.

ROBERTSON: I think there was a great deal of pressure from his mother and father to get married and produce some heirs for the throne. And I think Diana was just sort of the right girl at the right time and the right place.

O'BRIEN: Insiders say Charles did care deeply for Diana but was pressured to marry before he was ready. No surprise then that their son William would not be pressured to propose. One spring day, Kate was at work, and accessories buyer for this clothing company, when her cell phone rang. It was Williams

ANDERSEN: She gets the call on the cell phone, the other employees can hear what's going on in there. It's not pretty. She's hearing the news he's breaking up. She doesn't want this to happen. There's an emotional conversation going on. But it's the big breakup call.

O'BRIEN: "The Sun" newspaper broke the news, April 14, 2007. People were stunned. Kate looked grim. She packed up and headed home to her parents.

ANDERSEN: She's devastated. And Kate's mother Carol said, well, fight to give him back. Don't be defeated.

O'BRIEN: Friends say it didn't take her long to rebound.

O'BRIEN (on camera): How did Prince William react to the breakup?

ANDERSEN: He became unglued. He started drinking too much. He went with his buddies to various clubs. He was very obviously adrift emotionally, and it didn't help to have him see pictures of Kate having the time of her life.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Out on the Thames training for a cross Channel race or out on the town enjoying life as a single woman.

JULES KNIGHT, FRIEND OF WILLIAM AND KATE: She's a smart girl. She made sure she wasn't going to run back to him. She was calm and level-headed and strong about it. And I think he thought, oh, my god, what have I done.

O'BRIEN (on camera): She's going to hang out with other people --

KNIGHT: He probably thought actually I really want to be with this girl.

O'BRIEN: It's well known they broke up. Of course they got back together. But what's interesting here is how William broke the news and how they both behaved in the interim. Richard?


QUEST: You can see more of Soledad's documentary "The Women who would be Queen." Check our website for times to see when it's shown on CNN and CNN international. That's CNN/royalwedding for the times.

In royal wedding news this week, Kate Middleton's parents have met the queen for the first time. The official introduction took place on Wednesday when Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, hosted a lunch for the Middletons at Windsor castle. No details have been released, but we're told by a royal source the atmosphere was warm.

You might think it's every girl's dream to become a princess. This time we learned not exactly. A new survey says that the majority of British women don't want to switch places with Kate Middleton. And 86 percent said they're not jealous of her at all, and the main reason, of course, because Kate won't be able to lead a normal life after she's married.

We've seen the Lego sculptures and the souvenirs. Look what else we've unveiled on our wedding blog, an etch-a-sketch tribute to Prince William and his bride. It was created by an artist in Ohio who spent 80 hours putting it together. He didn't break that single black line once., you can see it for yourself for the very latest royal wedding news.

The royal wedding is a national moment in the life of the United Kingdom. Many of the people who live here will choose to celebrate it in a pub. After the break, we'll show you how pub life is getting ready for the day.


QUEST: Now we know where the couple will spend the night before the wedding. Where will I be on the big morning? Up there, just where those men are keeping it nice and clean for me. And from there I'll have a perfect vantage point view of the great west door of the abbey where the dignitaries, the royals, and, of course, the couple themselves will be arriving.


QUEST: If you've not been fortunate enough to get your own invitation to the wedding in the abbey, you may well celebrate in one of London's pubs instead. Richard is the landlord here at the Clifton Hotel. How important is the wedding going to be?

RICHARD KAVANAGH, THE CLIFTON PUB: Very, very important day because it's great for business. One, it's a chance for us as a business to show our community spirit not only to the people in the area, but the people on the street.

QUEST: There's only one problem.

KAVANAGH: What's that?

QUEST: You seem to be decoratively challenged. So I've come to help you out. Come around and give me a hand.

It's always a challenge to get more people in the mood. You're not in the mood. You do need to be in the mood. There you are. Get in the mood.

I'm exhausted.


QUEST: Coming up, while pub goers may be singing songs to the new bride, a royal orchestra will accompany her walk down the aisle, in a moment.


QUEST: They are not the real royals, but they certainly have the moves. A viral video has been released showing look-alikes of the royal party. The catchy tune is "House of Love's" by East 17. It's been such a hit, who knows, maybe the song will turn up over the parties of the real William and Kate.

If the weather next Friday is as glorious as it is today, the well- wishers here will be in for a treat, able to follow the proceedings in the abbey through the loud speakers that are along the route. They will hear the ceremony and enjoy the music because, as Max Foster now explains, there are musicians galore.


MAS FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The service at Westminster Abbey will have music to match this most regal of settings. No state occasion can begin without a fanfare from the household cavalry. Their outfit is the oldest in the British army, and they take their place in British history once again for the royal wedding.

FOSTER (on camera): Once she's inside the church, Katherine will come through the choir screen here, where she'll meet William and be married.

FOSTER (voice-over): Bringing a sense of spirituality to the proceedings will be the boys of the chapel royal choir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really exciting, quite an honor actually. So I'm looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For years this will be major history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so lucky that I've been able to participate in such an event which only happens once in a long time.

FOSTER: And to add to the music of church and state, a personal friend of Prince Charles, Christopher Warren-Green, will conduct the London chamber orchestra playing here at a recent concert.

CHRISTOPHER WARREN-GREEN, LONDON CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: Both Prince William and Ms. Middleton are both actively involved in what they want for their wedding. And they have great taste in music and very strong ideas.

FOSTER: No pop singers are expected at the wedding, though we are assured that Katherine and William do have a wide range of musical tastes.

WARREN-GREEN: I also have an all-embracing taste in music. I don't drive home after conducting the symphony and listen to the symphony. I usually drive home and listen to jazz or the Beatles. I quite like heavy metal.

FOSTER: The heavy metal will have to wait until after the wedding.

Max Foster, CNN London.


QUEST: After the ceremony is over, thousands of people will crowd down the mall making their way to Buckingham Palace where they will hope to see that magic kiss. When we come back in just a moment, the corgis and their role in the proceedings.


QUEST: There are many dos and don'ts in the hunting, fishing, shooting royal life that Kate will have to get used to. High on the agenda will be learning to love corgis. Queen Elizabeth has kept corgis for decades. While these aren't the queen's dogs, they do bear a canny royal resemblance. Kate will have to learn to live and love her new short-legged friends.


QUEST: What is the love of the corgis? The queen loves them, doesn't she?

MARY DAVIES, RAISES CORGIS: Oh, yes. She always had. She's had them since she was a child.

QUEST: Come on. I'm sure there are lots of interesting smells. You could have any dog. You could have a big Labrador or a little Chihuahua. Why would you go for a corgi?

DAVIES: Because they're big dogs in small packages. They've got a big dog brain. They're loyal. They're fun. They love being with you.

QUEST: He's biting my nose. Do you think Kate is going to get on with the corgis?

DAVIES: I think so, yes. She's a country-loving girl, isn't she?

QUEST: I'm just wondering whether these corgis are feeling like they're heading the their spiritual home. The palace is just down the road. There are corgi smells all around here.


I'm sure they can smell the royal corgis. Look at them. Go. There's a corgi somewhere waiting for you.


QUEST: So we come to the end of the look at the royal wedding. We get ready for the big day itself. It's time to introduce you to some of the presenters who will be bring that big moment.

Joining me is Cat Deeley of "So You Think You Can Dance" and one of our CNN contributors for this big event. Which and what moment for you is going to be the moment?

CAT DEELEY, CNN SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR: For me, it's going to be to see what she's wearing. When she's being picked up in the car and drive all the way here. That moment -- you're going to have the first spot of what she's wearing. I want to know as soon as possible. I'm really hoping it could be Sarah Burton who was Alexander McQueen's right-hand woman.

QUEST: You've lost me already.


I know it will be white and flowing. Anderson Cooper joins me on the line. Anderson, for you what will be the moment, the moment that you're waiting for?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360" (via telephone): I think there will probably be two moments. One after the wedding whether at Buckingham Palace and they come out of the balcony.

DEELEY: The kiss.

COOPER: Yes, the kiss, and to see them all assemble. I assume -- Richard, will the entire family be on the balcony?

QUEST: No, no. They'll come out first. We're waiting -- we won't know till the moment, is it a kiss on the hand --

DEELEY: No, we want a big smooch.

QUEST: Or on the lips?

COOPER: There's no way they're going to kiss on the hand.

DEELEY: No. They're husband and wife. Forget about it. QUEST: They've been living together without benefit of clergy until now.

DEELEY: Exactly. I want to see a full smacker.

COOPER: I also want to see them leave the church and get into the carriage and are escorted. There will be lots of different military regiments going with them. And this will be the first time we see them together in a horse-drawn carriage. That will be a cool moment as well.

QUEST: Why do we as Brits perhaps feel this -- we're understated at one level but we feel this quite deeply?

DEELEY: I think it's one of those moments where it will always be "where were you when," engrained in our memory forever. There is this affinity towards the royal family. We love the tradition. We love the stories. We love the fairytale. Actually it's really nice for everybody to come together at this particular time instead of being kind of united in tragedy or the environment. It's lovely to come together and celebrate something that's positive.

QUEST: Anderson, do you think the Americans realize that this is not just a soap opera and that for Cat and myself, we'll be watching the wedding of our future head of state?

COOPER: I think so. It doesn't have the same resonance, perhaps, as it does for a subject of the crown, but I do think so many Americans have such connection to Diane, princess of Wales, they feel like they watched her kids grow up. And I think a lot of Americans are kind of rooting for this young couple.

And there's the feeling that William seems to have a sensible head on his shoulders and has been brought up in a different way I think than previous generations of royals. And I think there's a lot of optimism and hope that this couple is really -- that they're great together and have a very happy life together.

QUEST: Anderson Cooper who will be here on the big day, Cat Deeley who will also be with us. There will be an entire raft of us presenting on the big day, Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper, Cat Deeley, and myself. But remember, you are always most welcome because there's always room for one more. We'll see you on Friday.