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France, Britain Angry over Trump NRA Remarks; Giuliani Doubles Down on Porn Star Hush Money; Lebanon Votes; Hawaii Volcano; Russia Protests; Indian Teen Raped and Burned to Death; Alex Ferguson Recovering after Emergency Surgery; NFL Cheerleaders; Countdown to Royal Wedding. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 6, 2018 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. president Donald Trump angers two of his closest allies in his speech to the biggest U.S. gun rights group and now Britain and France are hitting back and blasting the president for his remarks.

Also it is Election Day in Lebanon for the first time in nearly a decade, with a record number of female candidates.

Also still no relief in sight for the hundreds of people displaced by the continuing volcanic eruptions in Hawaii. We'll talk with an expert about what's going on.

Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We are coming to you live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump is angering not one but two of America's closest allies. France is upset over comments Mr. Trump made about the November 15 terror attacks in Paris. At least 130 people were killed, hundreds were wounded. Mr. Trump was speaking at a convention for the largest gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association, on Friday when he said this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paris, France, has the toughest gun laws in the world.

And we all remember more than 130 people...they died in a restaurant and various other close proximity places. They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns.

They took their time and gunned them down one by one -- boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom. If you were in those rooms, one of those people -- and the survivors said it just lasted forever. But, if one employee or just one patron had a gun or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled.


ALLEN: Francois Hollande, seen here with France's president at the time of the attack, he called Mr. Trump's comments, quote, "shameful."

The French foreign ministry issued a statement expressing its firm disapproval and called for the respect of the memory of the victims. In the same speech, Mr. Trump angered Britain, saying it had a knife problem. At one point he compared a London hospital to a war zone, saying the floors were covered in blood from knife attack victims.

Elsewhere, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani is speaking out yet again about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. He created a firestorm earlier in the week when he announced President Trump had paid Michael Cohen for the $130,000 payment made to keep Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.

In an interview Saturday night, Giuliani repeated his argument that the payment did not break the law.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NYC: The President of the United States did not in any way violate the campaign finance law. Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you that if it was for another purpose other than just campaigns and even if it was for campaign purposes, if it was to save his family, to save embarrassment, it's not a campaign donation.

Second, even if it was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it fully with a payment of $35,000 a month that paid for that and other expenses. No need to go beyond that. Case over.


ALLEN: Scott Lucas is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, England, and the founder and editor of "EA World View."

Scott, thank you for being with us. We'll talk about Giuliani in a moment. But let's begin with Mr. Trump's speech to the NRA. He has angered our closest allies, furious at comments he made regarding terror attacks on France and England.

This as he supported strong gun rights in the U.S. He made no mistake about how strong he now stands with the NRA.

What do you make of it?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, we know that Donald Trump was playing domestic politics and he was feeding red meat to the NRA supporters. But what he's done is by using the examples of France and Britain is intervened in frankly what many here consider an ignorant and crass way --


LUCAS: -- in affairs that concern us over here.

In France, there have been steps taken to prevent terror attacks. There is a great deal of concern over that. But the idea that if you just simply arm civilians with no checks and that stops terrorism, I don't think anybody will back the president up on that.


ALLEN: Let's look at Las Vegas. More than 50 people gunned down in this country; massacres happen on average every day in the United States.

LUCAS: Absolutely. And yet he calls the country where I now live a war zone. He dares to say, in fact, that we supposedly are in no-go areas because of violence, which, on a sunny day here in Birmingham, I can tell you is the furthest thing from the truth.

One statistic to eliminate this: Donald Trump is holding out against any gun control in the United States where almost 40,000 were killed by guns in 2016.

In the same year, the total number of people that were killed in homicides by guns in the United Kingdom: 26. That's the core issue. But don't expect Donald Trump to address that. Expect him to try to deflect from that by even risking insulting allies at a time when he needs them over issues like the Iran nuclear deal.

ALLEN: It's almost preposterous, trying to make that kind of point when the numbers aren't even close to adding up. It just boggles the mind because just a couple of months ago, he seemed to have sympathy for the Parkland high school students and their issues over guns. And now he was full-on NRA, all about it.

LUCAS: Yes. And this isn't just Donald Trump. That speech remember, Trump obviously put his touches on it but that speech would have been written for him by advisers.


LUCAS: This is not just Trump. This is a group of people who now are all in. Forget the idea about any raising of the limits on owning semi-automatic weapons to 21. Forget about any system of significant checks. They're simply going to say all of this needs to go away after Parkland.

And we'll see what affect it has leading up to November. I don't think you're going to see Trump get away with these comments without some type of pushback not only abroad but also at home.

ALLEN: Let's talk about Rudy Giuliani, his latest lawyer, despite being admonished by the president for erroneous comments according to the president about that payment to a porn star, Mr. Trump paying it back, Mr. Giuliani is now oddly standing by what he said, even though those comments blindsided Mr. Trump apparently and his legal team.

It's very hard to keep up.

What is Mr. Giuliani's role here, is this PR, is this propaganda?


LUCAS: First of all, this didn't blindside Trump. Trump and Giuliani, who are friends from any, decided last week they were going to try to make the Stormy Daniels affair go away.

What was distinctive is they didn't consult anyone in the White House. They didn't talk to John Kelly, the chief of staff. They didn't talk to the White House lawyer, Don McGahn.

So when Rudy Giuliani came out on Wednesday and started the controversy rather than making it go away by saying Donald Trump knew about the payoff to Stormy Daniels, contradicting what the president has said for months.

And then the next day on Thursday, Rudy Giuliani tied the payment to the campaign when he said, imagine if this had come up during the last debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

What Rudy's done over the last two days and may well be doing today is issuing yet another clarification which is far from clear.

Significance: the president's alleged affair with Stormy Daniels is not just simply a personal matter now. It is becoming a political matter and in combination with things like the Russia investigation and all the other controversies, it's something that's eroding his position, at least with those who are not firmly committed to the president, whatever he does or says.

ALLEN: As someone likened to the whole Stormy Daniels saga to the White House twisting itself into a pretzel and it kind of feels like that, doesn't it.

But I want to talk about the president's lawyer, involved with Stormy Daniels, Mr. Cohen, the fixer at the center of this. According to "The New York Times," he has often operated in the backwaters of the financial and legal world and those worlds are connected to Ukraine and Russia.

Yet again, another road kind of connected to the president that runs through Russia.

LUCAS: I think it's important to say that the reason for the FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office, hotel, home on April 9th was not because of his legal work because that's protected by confidentiality. It is over his business affairs.

And I suspect the connection between the federal prosecutors in New York and the Mueller investigation is that some of those business dealings were for the terrorist organization. One example, key example, Michael Cohen dealing with known figures who are linked with Russian officials on projects such as the Trump Tower Hotel in Moscow, did those business dealings then continue into 2016 --


LUCAS: -- and in some way get bound up with the campaign (INAUDIBLE) exchange of favors?

We don't know yet. But I suspect that Robert Mueller and others are investigating this at the moment.

ALLEN: Scott Lucas, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

ALLEN: Another story we're following, polls open in Lebanon, where, for the first time in almost a decade, people are voting for their next parliament. Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to be able to form a new government but he faces pressure from Hezbollah.

A new election law is also paving the way for independent candidates.

Do they have a chance?

CNN's Ben Wedeman has been following the story for us. He joins us live from Beirut.

Ben, new laws and thousands of new voters.

What could that mean for this election?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The new law is important because it gets rid of the old winner-takes-all system and replaces it with a form of proportional representation.

But for Lebanese voters, the choices are mindboggling. You have almost 600 candidates running for 128 seats in parliament, divided very equally, 64 for Muslims, 64 for Christians.

But given that there are so many different, there are 17 recognized religious groups or concessions in this country. It's not quite so cut and dried. So you do have for the first time 800,000 people voting. In this case, there's 77 lists in 15 different districts. So a mindboggling array of choices. But it is believed that, at the end of the day, not much will change.

What's different this time is that there are more independent candidates, more people who are running on a non-sectarian program but these new faces in Lebanese politics may not really have much in terms of the actual outcome of the vote.

What we have seen is that you have a variety of candidates who, in some cases, some parties are allies in one district, enemies in another. But at the end of the day, as one woman who told me inside this voting station behind me, it's a bit of a theater. And the result won't be much of a surprise -- Natalie.

ALLEN: That's too bad for all of the people that are running. I heard you say earlier there are more progressive issues this time.

But what are the prevailing issues that are most important to people as far as polls, going to the polls?

WEDEMAN: People want basic, good services. You have had instances in Lebanon where you've had garbage piling up in the streets. They want somebody to clear it out of the street. Every day you have three hours of electricity cut. You have high unemployment. You have a 156 percent debt-to-GDP ratio.

People want this country to be fixed. Now on the progressive side, yes, this year, for instance, compared to 2009, when there were 12 women running for seats in parliament, now you have 86. Almost 100 candidates are calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality. Many candidates are calling for the legalization of cannabis.

But at the end of the day, these are progressive candidates who probably won't win too many seats. So what we're expecting after what you're seeing today is probably more of the same -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. Ben Wedeman covering it for us there in Beirut, thank you, Ben.

Part of Hawaii's island paradise is being split apart by volcanoes. Coming up, we'll find out if there's hope in sight for homeowners being chased from their homes by molten lava.

Also protesters in Russia chant, "He is not our czar," as Vladimir Putin is set to begin his fourth term as president. Chaos in the streets about that. We'll have a report.






ALLEN: Frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and toxic gas are threatening thousands of people and their homes on Hawaii's big island. The U.S. Geological Survey says cracks in residential areas are still spewing molten lava and toxic gas.

They say there's no evidence that the Kilauea volcano will slow down anytime soon. On top of that, they're expecting even more earthquakes, adding to the hundreds that have rocked the island this week. Officials say anyone choosing to stay in the eruption zone is making a grave mistake.

One resident describes how emotional it was to leave his home behind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tears, a lot of tears saying goodbye to my house. I have an acre of land. I have an acre lot. The beautiful plants and trees that I have planted. Tears. I can do that right now. It's just, you know, I'm a blue-collar man and I worked for my house and now my house might be gone. So that's just devastating.


ALLEN: Let's talk more about all of this with Ken Rubin. He's a professor at the University of Hawaii and the chair of the Department of Geology and Geophysics. He joins me now from Honolulu.

Ken, thanks for joining with us. We just heard from that one resident who is so worried about losing his home and that whole neighborhood is under duress of that.

What initially caused this eruption of Kilauea and caused the lava flow to an area that doesn't normally see this?

KEN RUBIN, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII: So the event that initiated this sequence --


RUBIN: -- started at the beginning of the week, the first at Pu'u 'O'o Crater. This is where Kilauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983.

And a large earthquake happened there, the volcanic cone collapsed. A significant amount of lava drained out of that crater. Right after that, a series of earthquakes started to migrate down what we call the East Rift Zone about 15 kilometers to the area of Leilani Estates.

And for a couple of days there was significant shaking, more than 300 earthquakes. And then ground cracks started to open up. And over the course of the last little bit more than two days, some of these cracks have become what we call eruptive fissures.

We're currently up to eight fissures that have opened and have been erupting for some period of time, although as far as I know, only two of them are currently active right now.

ALLEN: As far as the volcanic cone that collapsed, was that in any predicated and is the outcome here typical of what would happen because of that with the volcano?

RUBIN: It is the one thing we learn with almost every volcano is that it's very hard to say what is typical. Kilauea volcano is one of the best instrumented and best studied volcanoes in the world. It's nearly continuously active.

So we have lots of examples of activity there. Even in the week or so before the Pu'u 'O'o cone collapsed, the volcano was inflating and we can see those with various kinds of instruments, including satellites an instruments on the ground. We knew that a new pulse of magma was coming into the upper part of the volcanic structure. Now there was no way to predict, based on what we were observing, that Pu'u 'O'o was going to shut off as it did. We don't know if the eruption will go back to that site or not.

But the best evidence that we have for similar activity are two eruptions that happened in the immediate area of Leilani Estates, one in 1955 and one in 1960. In fact, the lava is from this current eruption are very, very close, less than 1 kilometer away from the edge of the 1955 lava.

That eruption lasted for 88 days. And its precursors weren't exactly like this one but similar enough. And over the ensuing few initial days of the eruption, the fissures erupted more intensely and larger and larger lava flows were produced.

And we don't know that's what's going to happen this time. But until the people at the observatory who are watching the volcano stop seeing ground shaking and deformation that indicates magma moving into the area, then we have to expect that the eruption will continue.

ALLEN: My goodness. Meantime, Ken, what's the environmental danger to people who've been exposed to these lava fountains, the toxins, the gas that's been released in the atmosphere?

How could that impact people's health?

RUBIN: So there's two primary gases that come out of the volcano itself. And the most noxious of those is sulfur dioxide. It's a respiratory irritant, very high concentrations that it can cause a series of different pulmonary problems, problems with your lungs and eyes.

It's an acrid smelling gas and it's blue. And most people are able to see it in the atmosphere and hopefully move away.

The other gas is hydrogen sulfide, which has a very strong smell and is also toxic in low concentrations.

And then in addition, because we have lava, molten lava interacting with manmade structures, for instance, streets and road asphalt, roofing materials, et cetera, those burn and the incineration of those materials also produces some rather nasty gases, including gases that are high in organic particulates called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

None of those are good for people who are in the immediate vicinity. The good news is that as long as the winds are blowing and people stay upwind of the sources of these gases, which right now are localized along these short fissure segments, then they should be OK.

But it definitely important to not be close to where these gas sources are.

ALLEN: Well, very good information. We so much appreciate you joining us and helping us understand. Ken Rubin from the University of Hawaii, thank you.

RUBIN: Aloha.

ALLEN: Aloha to you.



ALLEN: Coming up here, some cheerleaders with a professional U.S. football team say a trip to Costa Rica kind of ended up R rated. It blurred the line over their job repositories. We'll take a look at the controversy as we push on here on CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: U.S. President Trump spoke by phone with British prime minister Theresa May on Saturday. We don't know if they discussed Mr. Trump's NRA comments that angered many in Britain and France. But they did talk about North Korea, Iran, China, trade and Mr. Trump's upcoming trip to Britain.

The U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in the U.S. in the coming hours. He'll meet with Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been released after being detained during a protest in Moscow. He was one of hundreds of other protesters arrested across Russia. It happened just two days before President Vladimir Putin is to be inaugurated for his fourth term. Protesters are furious Mr. Putin has been in power for 18 years, either as president or prime minister. For more about it, here's Matthew Chance from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are in the dying stages of this anti-Putin protest here in Russia. Look over here; the police are moving in on individual protesters and they are grabbing their limbs and pulling them away simply because these people have come out to voice their opposition to Vladimir Putin, refusing to leave.

There were a couple of thousand at the height of this protest who came out on to the streets of the center of the Russian capital, calling for an end to corruption, calling for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to resign.

And the police have gone in very hard indeed to arrest hundreds of people here in the Russian capital and across the country where there are other protests. More than a thousand people have been taken into custody and detained.

Amongst them, Alexei Navalny, the main opposition leader in Russia, who called this protest and who was himself detained earlier today by these Russian riot police. The police are very careful now, very keen to get this area cleared of protesters.

It's been going on now for a couple of hours. They are saying people should move toward the metro and to move out of this main square. But as you can see, there are a still maybe a hundred people here in the Russian capital, who are refusing to leave and are having to be taken away by force.

It all comes just a few days before Vladimir Putin who was elected president --


CHANCE: -- for the fourth time in March is inaugurated into office. There are lots of people in towns and cities across Russia who are violently opposed or vigorously opposed to that prospect.

So the expectation is there may be more protests in the weeks ahead to protest against that continued rule of Vladimir Putin -- Matthew Chance, CNN, in Central Moscow.


ALLEN: We thank Matthew for that report.

Coming up after the break, new controversy over NFL cheerleaders. Some of the women on one squad say a photo shoot may have gone too far.

Also, in less than two weeks, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. We'll have some scoops on the big day coming up.




ALLEN: A barbaric crime in India is attracting international attention in part because of how the village council has handled or mishandled the case.

It happened in a rural village in northeastern India. A teenage girl there was allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped last Thursday. Then when her family went to the village council seeking justice, the girl's house was set on fire and she died.

CNN's Nikhil Kumar is in New Delhi.

Nikhil, it just seems like these issues happen again and again and we'll talk about that in a moment.

But in this case, explain how it got to this and whether this family will ever be able to see justice.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Natalie, the details of the case, as you outlined, start on Thursday, is when the attack on the girl, 16-year-old in the northeastern state of Jarkun (ph), as you said, a distant, rural part of the country, quite poor. The village itself where this is alleged to have taken place is quite far away from the nearest urban center.

That's where the attack --


KUMAR: -- the rape, the kidnapping has taken place on Thursday night. Friday morning the family approaches their local village council. Now these councils don't have any legal authority but they tend to wield a lot of influence sometimes, particularly in distant parts of the country.

They went to the village council. The council imposed a penalty of 50,000 rupees -- that's about $750 -- and asked the accused, all of the accused to do 100 sit-ups. The family was outraged by this.

But what -- everything really turned, the case took another awful turn is the accused themselves, in an act of retribution, an awful, chilling act of retribution, attacked the family and burned their house down.

The girl was inside and the allegation is that she died in that fire; she was burned to death. And so the family then went to the police and the case is now with the police. More than a dozen men have been arrested, including the head of the village council.

The body has been sent for an autopsy. The top elected official in the state has called for the culprits to be brought to justice. So the investigation is ongoing, the allegations are being probed and we are waiting for the details as they emerge -- Natalie.

ALLEN: You know, Nikhil, this is so terrible that this continues to happen. This isn't an isolated case. It has happened again and again. I can even remember a few years ago the case where two girls went out to use the restroom, as they have to do outside, were raped and their bodies were hung from trees.

People are going to the streets. There's an outcry across India. But yet again and again it happens.

KUMAR: There has been an outcry, Natalie. And in fact, just in recent weeks, last month, thousands of Indians came out onto the streets to protest and express their outrage after two stories caught the national attention.

One was a story involving an 8-year-old child in the northern state Jerboa (ph) in Kashmir. She was alleged in January to have been kidnapped, gang-raped and then brutally murdered.

The other was a story from in North India, the northern state of (INAUDIBLE), where a 16-year-old was alleged to have been raped last year. The person who was alleged to have committed the crime was only arrested following the outrage.

So as you say, renewed attention on these issues we have been talking about for years and years -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes. It is certainly a cultural problem for many areas of India. My goodness. All right. Nikhil, we thank you for giving us the latest on that.

Right now, one of the most decorated and successful managers in the history of football, Sir Alex Ferguson, is recovering after emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage.

Ferguson managed Manchester United for more than a quarter century before retiring in 2013. The club says his surgery went very well but that he will need a period of intensive care. Ferguson has won more than 30 trophies at the helm of one of the world's biggest football clubs.

Anyone who has watched professional football in the U.S. has probably noticed the cheerleaders in flashy outfits along the sidelines. They're hard to miss. The women are a very visible part of the National Football League and the demands of the job are high. But a photo shoot five years ago with one team's cheerleaders is getting new scrutiny. We get details from CNN's Dianne Gallagher.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several cheerleaders from Washington's NFL team say a 2013 trip to Costa Rica crossed the line.

In the interviews with "the New York Times," the women say that upon arrival, the team collected their passports before requiring them to take part in a racy photo shoot where some of them were topless for a team calendar. All of this while high-profile sponsors and FedEx field suite owners looked on.

JULIET MACUR, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Shooting the calendar in these little tiny outfits is really the issue. It's that it's giving access to sponsors who are men who are seemingly paying for this privilege to watch women pose with hardly any clothes on. The issue is giving access to sponsors and making the women feel uncomfortable.

GALLAGHER: The cheerleaders claim that some of them were picked to be quote "personal escorts" for the sponsors at a Costa Rican nightclub later that night. And while sex was not involved, the women told the "Times" they felt quote "worthless and unprotected." And were so devastated by the situation that they did not return to the squad the next season.

The cheer team's director says that the night at the club was not mandatory. And the Washington team issued a statement saying that it's looking into and taking the allegations seriously, but quote "based on the dialogue we have had with a number of current and former cheerleaders over the past 48 hours, we have heard very different firsthand accounts that directly contradict many of the details of the May 2nd article."

That's something two former Washington cheerleaders picked by the team to appear on NBC's today show Friday echoed.


CHARO BISHOP, FORMER REDSKINS CHEERLEADER: Some girls were excited to do those things. In terms of being an escort, that was never a perception that I had. I think that being friendly and receptive and welcoming to sponsors is completely different.

RACHEL GILL, FORMER REDSKINS CHEERLEADER: We always have the option to say no. We are never forced or told to do something we don't want to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just treated the --

GALLAGHER: A former Carolina Panthers cheerleader says that in her experience, it wasn't that simple.

BRITTNEY CASON, FORMER NFL CHEERLEADER: Manipulation is a strong word, but it's what happens.

GALLAGHER: Brittney Cason says that the NFL cheer leading environment can be toxic with low pay and high standards and that the women often feel powerless to say no.

CASON: So if you're put in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, they quickly remind you that there's hundreds of other girls that would kill to trade for your spot right then and there and so you just kind of go along with it, fearing that you could be kicked off the team.

GALLAGHER: Recent lawsuits from cheerleaders on other teams around the NFL have described discrimination, unfair wages and sexual harassment. The NFL released a statement Friday saying, our office will work with our clubs in sharing best practices in employment- related processes that will support club cheer leading squads within an appropriate and supportive workplace -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Something is just not right there.

Coming up here, royal fans, get your hats ready. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding less than two weeks away. I'll discuss the details with our royal watcher -- coming up. (MUSIC PLAYING)





ALLEN: Take a look at that. This is 2-week-old Prince Louis. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared two new photos of the baby. In the first one, Princess Charlotte is kissing her little brother. That one was taken on Wednesday while celebrating her third birthday.

This second photo shows Prince Louis when he was just 3 days old. These are the first images released since the duke and duchess posed with the baby outside the hospital April 23rd.

In less than two weeks, the British royal family will gain another member when Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle. Here are some details we're learning about the ceremony.

The bride's parents will have key roles. Meghan Markle's mother, seen there to her right, will ride with her to Windsor Castle for the ceremony. And her father will walk her down the chapel aisle.

Markle will not have a maid of honor. As for the groom, Prince Harry wants his late mother's side of the family involved in the ceremony. Diana's older sister is expected to give a reading.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams joins me now from London.

There's the adorable Louis. And we have to admit, over here we are all gaga over the adorable Harry and Meghan. They seem so in love. And she's an American.

So what do we know about the wedding?

And how much is Meghan and Harry doing it their way with their wedding?

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYALTY COMMENTATOR: Well, the intention was, when it was decided to have St. George's Chapel in Windsor as the venue, that they would do as much as possible their way, that this would be as personal as you could get with a royal wedding.

After all, they didn't have to have St. Paul's as a state occasion as Charles and Diana did nor (INAUDIBLE) state occasion in Westminster Abbey as William and Kate did. And what we have clearly understood is that, of the 600 who will be in St. George's Chapel, a historic venue where 10 kings are buried and dedicated to the Knights of the Garter, which was founded by Edward III, who Meghan has a descent from, which is rather exciting, they will be linked in some personal way with both bride and groom. There won't be prime ministers, there won't be other than perhaps John Major, who was Harry's guardian, there won't be dignitaries. This will be as personal as it can get.

There's no question, it's very interesting that Meghan's beloved mother, Doria, will be with her in the drive by car. This was begun by Kate, in fact, Catherine Middleton, arrived with her father at Westminster Abbey by car previously it had been in landaus or the glass coach was used.

So this is obviously a statement by Meghan about how important her mother has been to her all her life and also we're delighted that Thomas Markle, her father, a former top lightning director in Hollywood, will be walking her down the aisle in the ceremony, which will be watched by hundreds of millions. Excitement is building.

ALLEN: Yes. It really is amazing how much is being generated over this. He is a long way from the throne. Yet we have been watching Harry grow up. Here it is. He is getting married.

Is this union any kind of a significant turning point for the royals with whom he has picked?

FITZWILLIAMS: Oh, It is absolutely pivotal as a turning point for a royal family, which frankly has now come into the 20th century with, for example, you were mentioning the charming photographs of Prince Louis. He won't leapfrog Princess Charlotte in line to the throne, which before the recent act, the Succession to the Crown Act, which made the sexes equal, he would have.

And what we're seeing is Meghan will be our first American princess. She also is very proud of being biracial. And this is a tremendously important statement because it means that the royal family won't be so remote to persons of color and that will especially be meaningful around the commonwealth.

And also, of course, as a divorcee, there's now no barrier at all to their being married in a church. And in fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Wilby, will be marrying them.

And the dean of St. George's will be officiating at the ceremony.


FITZWILLIAMS: And this will be an amazing match. It's also one that I would quote Shakespeare to say, a marriage of true minds because watching that interview after their engagement, you could see how much in love they both are.

And also of course we've been fed details to fascinate us further with the wedding every so often. The flowers, the cake, the ceremony and so forth.

ALLEN: Finally I want to ask you that Meghan seems to be a little different out in public. I was reading she wears a purse with a strap. That's unusual. They hold hands when they walk. She has been seen hugging people. She is already looking a little bit like a people's princess here.

FITZWILLIAMS: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I think that Harry and Meghan will be a dynamic charitable duo, both nationally and internationally with Diana as, as it were, the inspiration behind their work as activists because, of course, as you know, Meghan has been a humanitarian activist for years, at the age of 11, in fact, she was an activist for female empowerment.

There's no question at all that it is, as Harry is second in line to the throne, as you pointed out, it is somewhat different because she has got more flexibility and more freedom. But also as someone who's a big television star of her own right now, of course, a former actress, that somebody also can manage the crowds and manage the avalanche of press interest.

She will, as she and Harry are holding hands and this sort of informality, we remember Princess Diana touching, hugging, how much that meant. This will indeed be a partnership that I think will benefit so many, for so many wonderful causes which they decide to help.

ALLEN: We hope so --


FITZWILLIAMS: -- and a fabulous wedding.

ALLEN: -- yes, we can't wait for the wedding. Richard Fitzwilliams, always so much fun to talk with you and we hope to talk with you again in the run-up to the wedding. Thanks a lot for joining us.


ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for watching this hour. I'm back right after this with our top stories.