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World - Europe

Another royal wedding: A commoner's FAQ list

royal wedding

Your questions answered about the nuptials for Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones

June 18, 1999
Web posted at: 3:04 p.m. EDT (1904 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- Britain is preparing for its last royal wedding of the millennium, to be held Saturday. For those not familiar with the ways of the aristocracy, the following list may answer some common questions.

1. Prince who?

Edward. He's the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. At 35, he is 15 years younger than his oldest brother, Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne.

The seventh in the British monarchy's line of succession, Edward has tried to carve out his own career -- a somewhat rocky endeavor. He quit the Royal Marines after just four months, worked as a production assistant to musical theater impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber and ventured into the theater and television production business with mixed results.

2. And who is the bride?

Sophie Rhys-Jones is a 34-year-old career woman from a middle-class family who runs her own public relations firm in London. She has dated Edward since 1993.

Rhys-Jones is described as "forward-thinking," but monarchy buffs say she gets along better with the Windsors than earlier royal brides, the late Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. She has turned down any official function with the House of Windsor and plans to continue working, as does her husband.

3. Are they nuts? This family doesn't have the best record with marriages, you know.

Both are well aware of the dismal records of Edward's siblings, Princes Charles and Andrew and Princess Anne -- all of whom are now divorced. "We manage to have a good laugh about things most of the time, and we happen to love each other, which is the most important thing of all," Edward told a television interviewer.

4. So, Ed and Sophie --

That's the Earl and Countess of Wessex to you, buddy. The queen is expected to bestow those titles upon them just before the wedding.

5. Whatever. Where's the ceremony?

The couple will take their vows in the 15th century St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, a royal residence west of London.

The wedding guests will include about 600 family and friends, including Lloyd Webber, Monty Python veteran John Cleese and singer Elton John. Most fellow royals are there as family -- cousins from the interrelated royal houses of Europe.

6. What's with the vows? They're not going to sing "Wind Beneath My Wings" or anything like that, are they?

Oh, no. The ceremony will come from the Anglican Church's Book of Common Prayer, with origins dating back to 1662. Much has been made of the couple's decision to include the traditional vow that the bride will obey her husband.

Men, by the way, are encouraged to wear morning dress, and women should wear evening dress -- but no hats or bare shoulders, please.

7. I assume they already have a toaster. What should I get them?

Items on the gift list range from $135 for a coffee cup to about $62,000 for an antique table and six chairs. London tabloid The Sun has reported that many guests are skipping the official gift list because the suggested items are too expensive.

8. Oh. Will it be on TV, then?

Yes. The British Broadcasting Corp., which will televise the ceremony, has avoided releasing any estimates of its audience. But previous royal weddings have drawn more than 20 million viewers.

9. What's for dinner?

The menu includes coubilac, a kind of smoked haddock with rice and mushrooms; beef stroganoff; and fresh raspberries for dessert -- and, of course, cake. Guests will be served champagne and canapés before dinner.

10. You weren't invited either, were you?

Um, no, actually.

Reuters contributed to this report.

y: How 'sensible' and 'royal wedding' add up to 'yawn'
June 17, 1999
Britain's Prince Edward to marry: Palace confirmation
January 6, 1999
Royal couple celebrates 50th anniversary
November 19, 1997

ITN - Edward and Sophie: Royal Wedding Special
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