Britannia rules on day of celebration
PRINCE William and Kate Middleton have been "incredibly moved" by the affection shown to them since their engagement, the royal couple say in a message printed at the beginning of their official wedding programme, prepared for "one of the happiest days of our lives".
Today's traditional wedding service is laid out in the programme intended to ring with "Britishness". The music, planned to the last peal of the bells, includes the work of two leading Scottish composers, and is laden with classical favourites from Britain's past. It pays tribute to both William's parents and the Duchess of Cornwall, with music used in previous royal weddings.
William and Kate's message reads: "We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives.
"The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone most sincerely for their kindness."
About 150,000 copies of the keepsake official souvenir programme are being sold by Explorer Scouts and Cadets on London's streets today to raise money for The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.
It features a new black and white portrait of the couple by the celebrated fashion photographer Mario Testino. Following in the footsteps of Diana 30 years ago, Miss Middleton will not promise to "obey" her husband.
The music of classical favourites by Elgar, Britten and Vaughan Williams will all sound around Westminster Abbey, as well as a hymn used in Diana's funeral. The musical line-up ranges from the popular hymn Jerusalem to the quintessential English melody Greensleeves.
With Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, presiding, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, and sister Pippa will all act as witnesses and sign the historic marriage registers during the ceremony.
As the choir begins to sing, the bride will begin her three-and-a-half minute procession through the Nave and Quire to meet her prince on her father's arm. The newlyweds will leave the abbey to the sounds of the well-known rousing orchestral march Crown Imperial by William Walton, which was also played at Charles and Diana's wedding.
The three hymns Guide me, O thou great Redeemer; Love divine, all loves excelling and Jerusalem which begins "And did those feet in ancient time" - are all favourites of the couple, but the Prince of Wales helped with selections.
"Catherine is very familiar with classical music. She had a lot of input from the Prince of Wales. They spent a lot of time listening to the music together on iPods," a St James's Palace spokesman said."The theme of the wedding is Britishness, accentuating traditional forms and crafts," but pieces were also chosen for their theatrical effect.
The royal couple also selected a work by Welsh-born composer Paul Mealor, who teaches composition at the University of Aberdeen and has a studio on Anglesey, where they live.
Mr Mealor said: "The ceremony is going to be, without a doubt, the most emotionally intense and exhilarating hour of my life."
Two works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the composer and Master of the Queen's Music who lives in Orkney, feature, including his classic favourite Farewell to Stromness. Sir Peter had spoken in frustration at not being asked to write a new work for the ceremony but is "delighted" and will be watching enthusiastically, he has said.
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