A tale of two weddings

The mementos might be similar – a Princess Catherine doll, a deck of playing cards featuring the happy couple and commemorative bone china – but the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton on Friday will be a wholly different affair to the last Royal Wedding 30 years ago.

This social media savvy couple is embracing their public, and making the event, which is expected to draw two billion viewers across the world, more accessible to the people.

The couple’s incorporation of social media came full circle this week with the announcement that the wedding will be streamed live on You Tube.

It started with a Tweet announcing their engagement, continued with regular updates on Facebook and Twitter, and also now includes the creation of a Royal Wedding application for mobile phones.

Director of the Foreign Press Office Christopher Wyld says the couple’s approach is indicative of their attitude toward the event: wanting to draw everyone in rather than make people feel that they are less superior, as may have been the case with royal weddings in the past.

“The media operation at Clarence House (Prince William’s official residence) is highly professional,” he says.

The atmosphere in London ahead of the big day is truly welcoming, with shops decked out in bunting and stocked full of souvenirs and items for those hosting and attending wedding parties.

Union Jack paper plates and cups, together with aprons and table cloths featuring the happy couple’s smiling portrait are just some of the items available.

But not everyone is excited.

There have been sinister threats from the fundamentalist group Muslims Against Crusades who were denied by Scotland Yard permission to stage a protest at Westminster Abbey on the day.

The group, which calls senior members of the Royal Family “enemies to Allah and his messenger”, has threatened to turn the Royal Wedding into a “nightmare”.

The Muslim Council of Britain has denounced them, saying their antics are at odds with Islam’s teachings.

While police are able to ban any major protests along the main procession route, they are unable to stop any “static” protests taking place at other nearby locations.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens has promised that criminal activity would be dealt with “quickly, robustly and decisively so that it’s a happy event for everybody else who intends to be there”.

Among the 1 900 guests from all over the world will be the South African High Commissioner Dr Zola Skweyiya.

Following the wedding service the High Commissioner will join his wife, Thuthukile Skweyiya, at the celebration reception at Lancaster House.

Skweyiya says he “wishes the Royal Couple a wonderful day and many years of joy and happiness together.

Mpilo Nde, Mipilo Nhle.” Skweyiya will be following the couple’s request that charitable donations should be made to their Royal Wedding Charity Fund. Skweyiya will be making a contribution to this in his personal capacity.

As for the all-important issue of what to wear, the High Commissioner will be in a suit, while Mrs Skweyiya will be dressed in traditional attire. 

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