Add People magazine to the list of media outlets speculating that the next spectacular royal wedding could be right around the corner.
In its upcoming issue, the magazine reports that Prince William and his longtime girlfriend are acting more and more like a married couple. William even referred to Kate Middleton's father as "Dad" during a lunch at a ski resort in the French alps, according to another diner.
Former editor Tina Brown — a person who had been friends with Princess Diana and who wrote a biography about her — first reported early this month that William may make an announcement on either June 3 or 4 that he intends to marry Kate, his girlfriend of seven years, in November.
“A high-placed source in royal circles tells me that two days in June have been mysteriously blocked out on the palace diaries — June 3 and 4,” Brown wrote in a blog post on her Web site, The Daily Beast. “They suggest this is a likely date for the engagement announcement at last of the 27-year-old Prince William and his patient squeeze, 28-year-old Kate Middleton.
“If so, a wedding itself would probably follow in November, like the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who married at Westminster Abbey that cold, damp November day in 1947.”
Another sign that something big may be brewing: The queen recently ordered 300 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne.
"I think one of the reasons why so many people feel that Kate is 'the one' for Will is that in seven years of dating, she has never once put a a wrong foot forward," said Galina Espinosa, senior editor of People. "This is a girl who knows how to be a princess."
Brown speculated that the timing of the wedding announcement and the wedding itself may be carefully calculated based on political and personal priorities in Britain. A June announcement could provide a distraction after what is expected to be a contentious and closely fought national election on May 6. And the buildup to a November wedding could provide even more of a diversion.
“Whoever is the new prime minister by June should cross their fingers and pray for six months of wedding fever to distract the savage British press,” Brown wrote in her blog post.
In addition, scheduling the wedding on the verge of winter would help evade any comparisons to the lavish midsummer wedding of Charles and Diana back in 1981.
But personal reasons also likely run deep for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Brown noted.
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“Philip will be 90 in June 2011, and the Queen celebrates her diamond jubilee — 60 years on the throne — in February 2012,” Brown wrote. “Their closeness to their grandson, especially Philip, makes them eager, I am told, to see William settled in matrimony.”
Brown’s credibility as a source led to a flurry of nuptial-related coverage in the British press.
“Miss Brown’s suggestion seems as good as any, due to her impeccable connections with members of the British aristocracy,” the newspaper the Daily Mail reported.
The Daily Mail also quoted unnamed sources who indicated that Brown’s blog post should be taken “with a pinch of salt.”
Video: Will wedding bells chime? “Prince William has never given the merest hint about what is on his mind regarding his relationship with Kate Middleton and his office is under the clear impression that if he does decide to pop the question, they will only be told a matter of days or even hours before he wants the world to know,” one such source told the Daily Mail.
“The suggestion that staff at Clarence House, St. James’ Palace [the official name of William’s household] or even Buckingham Palace, for that matter, have been clearing their diaries, appears wide of the mark.”
Naysayers also point to a number of circumstances that they say make an imminent wedding announcement unlikely. For one thing, Prince William will still be training as a search-and-rescue pilot in June, making it difficult for him to get to London to pop the question. In addition, later that month, William and his brother, Prince Harry, are scheduled for a high-profile trip to Africa.
Besides all that, “There’s this sort of other rumor going around that he wants to wait until Charles has become king before he gets married,” said veteran royal-watcher Neil Sean.
Perhaps even more important, there is a recession on in Britain as there is in America, and the queen, who recently took the train in a gesture of frugality, may consider it an impolitic time for a lavish wedding.
On an official basis, a St. James’ Palace spokesman would not comment on the matter at all: “We never discuss Prince William’s private life or comment on what is merely speculation.”
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