Royal wedding: Sun shines on Leith for royal party of a lifetime
SHE is the picture of happiness, mingling with guests in the summer sunshine on the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia on the eve of her wedding.
Last night Zara Phillips and her husband-to-be England rugby star Mike Tindall hosted a drinks reception for guests including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie as well as sporting stars including former racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart.
A live band played as Zara, the Queen's granddaughter and 13th in line to the throne, and Mike mingled with their guests on board the yacht which has been berthed in Leith since it was decommissioned in 1997.
The bride-to-be, wearing sunglasses and a white one-shoulder dress with a blue print design showed off her platinum and diamond bespoke engagement ring as she chatted to her guests.
Waiters walked around filling champagne glasses and serving up canaps.
Princess Anne, the bride's mother, greeted guests as they came up on to the deck.
The happy couple were separate for most of the event, as they appeared to try to speak to everybody.
• The Royals mix in Leith
The party lasted for about two hours before guests started to go back down the steps and into organised coaches and taxis.
Members of the Royal Family left first in waiting Jaguars.
Zara was staying at the Palace of Holyroodhouse last and Mike is believed to be staying at Hotel Du Vin in the city centre.
Earlier in the day the couple arrived at Canongate Kirk for a rehearsal for their big day.
• The happy couple at the church earlier in the day
Crowds of well-wishers gathered across the road to wave as Zara arrived in a dark blue Jaguar for the rehearsal which was held yesterday just after 4pm.
Miss Phillips, in a blue knitted dress, jeans and flip-flops, looked glowing and happy as she arrived arm-in-arm with her rugby-playing fiance.
The couple waved to the crowd and obliged photographers with a kiss outside the church.
Miss Phillips' mother in law to be, Linda Tindall, was among the first to arrive at Canongate Kirk.
Princess Anne, wearing jeans and sunglasses, was joined by her former husband Captain Mark Phillips, and his second wife, Sandy Pflueger. as well as her husband Captain Timothy Laurence, and Zara's brother, Peter Phillips.
A large group from the American dress designer Calvin Klein also appeared at the church just before the rehearsal.
Zara and Mike have said they wanted the wedding to be a private affair.
However, yesterday there were unconfirmed reports they had tried to sell the rights to pictures to their wedding – as Peter Phillips did when he married Autumn in 2008.
There has also been criticism of the 500,000 cost to the taxpayer of policing an event to which the public are not invited.
Yesterday, Buckingham Palace said: "It's a private family wedding, we're not giving out any details." Around the Royal Mile, the additional police presence was very much in evidence. Extra police officers were stationed around the Palace of Holyroodhouse and there were squads of uniformed officers checking and sealing drains and manholes in the area.
On the rooftops opposite the Canongate Kirk, armed police kept watch, while a surveillance vehicle with army drivers arrived at the kirk a couple of hours before the practice run.
Earlier, the final touches had been made to decorations in the church.
Mock Roman urns full of branches evoked an indoor forest effect.
There were also large containers full of lilies, while the portico at the front of the church was topped with florists oasis – suggesting that it will be transformed into a bower of leaves and flowers before today's ceremony.
There was no official announcement of yesterday's rehearsal but the large amount of police activity, combined with the spectacle of a phalanx of press photographers led to a crowd gathering across the road from the church.
Sandra Christie, from Aberdeen, said: "My daughter and I were down for a visit, just for a break. We noticed all this going on – the police and the cameras – so we stayed for a look. They are a lovely young couple, and I'm sure there will be a lot of interest in the wedding."
Victoria Bailes, on holiday from Derby with her daughter, Pat Bailes, said: "We decided to go down the Royal Mile and visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse then we saw all this and realised this was the church."
Helene Bock, on holiday from Germany, said the royal family are more popular than ever. "I was in St Andrews for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton – I watched it on television with my grand daughter – we made her a paper crown."
Carol Anderson, from Edinburgh, said: "It is nice to have something in Scotland and not London.
"The wedding in London lifted everybody's spirits, and I hope this does the same."
The bride-to-be was reported to have spent most of yesterday at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh with Peter's wife Autumn – who is likely to take a leading role in the ceremony.
Miss Phillips' half-sister Stephanie, Captain Mark Phillips' daughter, arrived at Canongate Kirk – leading to suggestions she will also be a bridesmaid.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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