Zara Phillips Royal wedding heading for Edinburgh

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EDINBURGH is gearing up for a royal wedding after it emerged that the Queen's eldest grand-daughter is set to marry her rugby star fiancé in the heart of city's Old Town.

• Zara Phillips and her fianc Mike Tindall

Zara Phillips is expected to tie the knot with Mike Tindall at the historic Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile on 30 July, after it emerged another couple had agreed to move their own ceremony to another location.

Cherith Harrison and Gregg Walter, both 27, who booked the church for their big day about three months ago, agreed to move to the equally historic Greyfriars Kirk after being told the royal couple had picked the same venue and date for their wedding.

The bride's father, Robert Harrison, said the couple, who have been together for six years and currently live together in the city, had been "very happy" to relocate after an approach from Canongate Kirk's minister, the Rev Neil Gardner.

The kirk, which dates from 1688, is used to handling royal visits, as it is the parish church for the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the Queen and members of her family regularly attend services there. Insiders say the nearby palace is likely to host the wedding reception for Ms Phillips and Mr Tindall, who announced their engagement on 21 December.

The occasion is expected to deliver a second major royal wedding boost to Scotland in the space of just three months, with thousands expected to visit St Andrews around the time Prince William and Kate Middleton marry in April.

It will be the first royal wedding in Scotland since Ms Phillips' mother, the Princess Royal, married Commander Timothy Laurence at a private ceremony at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, in 1992. She is also the patron of the Scottish Rugby Union and is a regular at international matches at Murrayfield.

Ms Phillips was educated at Gordonstoun School in Elgin, Moray, as was her brother Peter, her uncle Prince Charles and grandfather Prince Philip.

VisitScotland said an Edinburgh royal wedding would be "great news" for the city and the whole country, because of the Royal Family's pulling power for visitors.

Buckingham Palace was remaining tight-lipped about Ms Phillips' wedding yesterday, insisting the couple were still looking at possible dates and venues.

• Tavish Scott: 'The kirk reeks of Scotland and its history; also it's light and airy - it's just magical'

However, Mr Harrison, managing director of a car dealership in Peebles, said the couple had booked the Canongate Kirk several months ago, but received a request to relocate from Mr Gardner and were offered an alternative booking at Greyfriars Kirk.

Ms Harrison, a graphic designer, and Mr Gregg, a lifeguard, will have their reception as planned in the Signet Library, off Parliament Square.

Mr Harrison said: "We were called by the minister at the Canongate Kirk last Thursday and asked if we would consider releasing the date.

"They were very happy to accommodate the palace's request and we are delighted with the new venue at Greyfriars, which has a lot of history behind it, and is just as close to the reception venue as the Canongate.

"We're all now looking forward to a warm, sunny day."

Mr Gardner said he was not able to comment of any speculation, added: "I'm sure there will be an announcement."

Although the occasion will present a major logistical challenge to the police and the city council amid a packed calendar of events this summer, both are used to hosting major occasions in and around the palace.

Although part of the Royal Mile would be closed for a royal wedding and a major security operation would be in place for several days around the ceremony, it would not be on the same scale as last year's papal visit or this year's events to mark Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh. The latter event will see a huge military parade down the Royal Mile at the end of June.

The royal wedding would also be held before the city is thronged with tens of thousands of visitors when the Edinburgh Festival Fringe gets under way just a few days later.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said: "This is all speculation at the moment. No dates or venues have been announced as they are still being looked at."

However Edinburgh's Lord Provost George Grubb said: "We would be delighted if Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall chose to celebrate their wedding here in Edinburgh this summer and I'm sure the event would generate great excitement.

"As yet, there's been no official confirmation, but given HRH the Princess Royal's long affinity with the city, it would seem very fitting for the couple to mark the occasion here."

VisitScotland's chief executive Malcolm Roughead added: "If this is confirmed it would be great news for Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland.

"The Royal Family is already a huge draw for visitors to Scotland, from St Andrews, where another royal romance started, to Balmoral, where the Royal Family enjoy their summer holiday. Scotland's stunning landscape, castles and hospitality mean we are already known as a romantic destination and having a royal wedding here would only add to that."

Mr Tindall and Ms Phillips, who have been together for seven years, live in a house on the Gloucestershire estate belonging to her mother.

The couple met through Ms Phillips' cousin, Prince Harry, in a Sydney bar during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, which England won in Australia.