On a royal scale

2011-04-22 09:46

The pomp and ceremony of royal weddings is always accentuated by music.

When Kate Middleton hangs on to her father’s arm and takes the long five-minute walk through Westminster Abbey, she will be walking in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, whose nuptials at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981 set the bar for most of the 80s weddings and beyond.

Kate’s march and fanfare will set the tone for royal (and commoners’) weddings for at least the next 30 years when she becomes a mother-in-law herself.

From the first fanfare by State Trumpets at the entrance of Westminster Abbey greeting the bride and announcing to the groom that she’s arrived, the monarchy will ensure that its centuries-old practice is honoured.

It’s expected that on Friday morning as she strolls down the abbey with approximately two billion eyes globally examining her every step, she will be accompanied by a classical music piece.

In Diana’s case, they played the famous Trumpet Arlington Prince of Denmark March by baroque composer Jeremiah Clark.


Although Middleton is a commoner, there is little chance of Here Comes The Bride blaring through the walls of Westminster Abbey.

Then will come the moment of high drama and theatricality when the prince and his princess join hands, march further on into the abbey and are greeted by trumpets reverberating through the church.

According to William’s office at St James’s Palace the prince and his fiancée “have taken a great deal of interest and care in choosing the music for their service”, which will include well-known hymns and choral works as well as pieces commissioned especially for the occasion.

Clarence House, Prince William and Kate’s official residence, announced that two choirs – the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal Choir at St James Palace.

The London Chamber Orchestra, a septet fanfare team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry will provide the music at the wedding.

The choirs will be directed by James O’Donnell, the organist and master of choristers at Westminster Abbey, while the orchestra will be under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green, the musical director and principal conductor.

Choirmaster and organist Andrew Gant told a UK newspaper that there was no room for mistakes.

“There’s the musical preparation, we have to make sure that the music is extremely well-known, so that everybody is really confident about what they are doing,” he said. “There’s also the question of what it all looks like as well, that’s extremely important.”

Following the formalities at the abbey, Claire Jones, the official harpist of Prince Charles, will perform at a reception hosted by the Queen Elizabeth ll at Buckingham Palace.

With Kanye West on the guest list, could it be that his smash hip-hop hit Gold-digger will finally take its place next to Purcell, Clark and Handel’s classical compositions?

The times they have a’changed, anything is possible.

Royal Wedding playlists
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Musical highlights: I Vow to Thee, My Country, Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.

Händel’s Samson. And soloist Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sang Let the Bright Seraphim.

Wedding: Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey

Musical highlights: Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven, The Lord’s My Shepherd and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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