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Video: The queen mother of wedding plans

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    >>> finally here tonight, the upcoming royal wedding of prince william and kate middleton , the biggest event in the uk since the last one. there are millions of details to be worked out. it will cost millions of dollars. there are seemingly just as many questions. our report tonight from nbc's jim meceda.

    >> reporter: prince william and his princess to be kate , or will it be catherine? the wedding, like the devil, is in the details. but a royal wedding ? even the most mundane details are the focus of worldwide speculation. where will it be, at st. paul's? or the more modest westminister abby , even of print sell elizabeth's nuptials 63 years ago.

    >> it's going to be somebody to do with westminister where royal weddings have happened. but maybe something more personal and private.

    >> reporter: some say church bells will ring in mey, others as late as august. and the dress. there's kate 's favorite designer, or perhaps someone british. much is at stake.

    >> i think it will have a huge impact on weddings to follow.

    >> reporter: even a scaled down wedding will be expensive. the cost shared by taxpayers. that's worrying many in these tough times.

    >> i'm happy for them as a couple. but i also don't like funding them, really. and their lifestyles.

    >> reporter: a spokesman says buckingham palace will contribute, too. but taxpayers are likely to foot the bill for security. in what could be one of the biggest british police operations ever, as many as 2 million spectators are expected to flood the capital of london for what could be a wedding bonanza. these plates, $50 each. there is seen a run on these knockoffs of kate 's engagement ring , the one once worn by diana. kit and williams' wedding could generate as much as a billion dollars and a ton of pride.

IMAGE: Prince William, Kate Middleton
Sang Tan  /  AP
Britain's Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton pose for the media at St. James's Palace in London after announcing their engagement on Tuesday.
TODAY staff and wire
updated 11/17/2010 9:16:37 AM ET 2010-11-17T14:16:37

Prince William and Kate Middleton were sitting down with advisers Wednesday to begin planning the royal wedding that some Britons have waited years to see — as the media settled in for months of juicy speculation.

The second in line to the throne and his long-term girlfriend will marry next spring or summer, but they haven't announced a date or a venue.

All bets in Britain are for a July wedding, and bookies have stopped taking bets on any date that month after hints from the palace that it was one of the strongest possibilities, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported.

The paper also reported that royal aides have made "discreet overtures" to senior staff at Westminster Abbey about several dates in August.

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Video: From ‘Waity Katie’ to future princess (on this page)

Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral, where William's parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana married in 1981, are considered the front-runners.

A spokesman said the couple would be closely involved in organizing all the details of the event.

"It's very much their day like any other couple, and they will make the decisions all the way through — they want the day to be enjoyable for everybody," he said, speaking anonymously in line with palace policy.

The spokesman for William's office said "the couple are mindful of the current economic situation." He stressed the wedding would not be a state occasion — unlike the wedding for Charles and Diana — because William is not the sovereign or the heir to the throne.

"However, given his seniority, you can expect formal or ceremonial elements," he said.

Video: The story of Princess Di’s sapphire ring (on this page) Palace officials said only that the wedding would be held in London. It was too early to estimate its cost.

Funds will likely come out of the Civil List — money provided by Parliament to meet official royal expenses, the queen's household allowance, or drawn from her personal wealth. That is, unless Parliament votes to give the royal couple extra money for the wedding.

Taxpayers will, at the least, have to pay for security, which will require large numbers of police.

It's all about the dress
The biggest fashion decision Middleton faces will be her wedding dress.

Deborah Joseph, editor of Brides Magazine, said Middleton will face substantial pressure to choose an English designer. Hilary Alexander, fashion director of The Telegraph newspaper, said she expects the princess-to-be to come up with a surprising choice for a wedding dress.

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"It's a British royal wedding, there's no need to look abroad," said Joseph. "Obviously there will be lots of speculation on the designer now, it depends which route Kate takes. She may give a nod to Princess Diana, and use one of her designers, like Bruce Oldfield or Amanda Wakeley, or she may make a statement of her own."

Joseph said Middleton's decision could define bridal wear for the next decade, much as Diana's choice in 1981 became the most-copied wedding dress in history.

One easy bet, however: Middleton is likely to use much softer fabric, like tulle or organza, than the stiff taffeta Diana used.

Tuesday's long-anticipated announcement by the couple was a gift for the British media and government, weary of economic uncertainty and austerity.

'The New Romantics'
As commentators dredged up memories of the dazzling nuptials of Charles and Diana, newspapers splashed pictures of Kate and William across their front pages. "The New Romantics," said The Times of London.

"They are a normal couple, they are the kind of couple you would see in a restaurant," Middleton's friend Jessica Hay told NBC's TODAY. "They adore each other, respect each other beyond belief. They suit each other, and both mesh well together."

And while the comparisons to William's mother are unavoidable, the public is hopeful that this love story will have a happy ending.

"The Charles and Diana years were crazy and William has a clearer, better view of that than anyone else," Tom Bradby, the journalist who interviewed the newly engaged pair, told TODAY. "He doesn’t want to repeat that. I would eat my hand if they got divorced... He wants to be like his grandparents, to be there through thick and thin, and they know that divorce is not an option."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the wedding would be a "great moment for national celebration" that would unite Britain.

Interactive: A history of British royal weddings (on this page) Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, said they were "absolutely delighted for them both," Buckingham Palace said. Prince Charles said he was "thrilled."

Prince Harry said he was "delighted that my brother has popped the question!" — and added that Kate was the sister he had always wanted.

"We're massively excited," William said in a televised interview that marked the first time the couple has spoken publicly about the tribulations of their love affair, which dates eight years back to their days as university students. "We're looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together."

Slideshow: A royal couple’s long courtship (on this page) William said he had given Kate his mother's sapphire and diamond engagement ring as a way of making Diana part of his special day.

"I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all. This was my way of keeping her close to it all," William said.

William, wary of a media he holds partly responsible for his mother's death in a Paris car crash in 1997, said he had taken his time in proposing to give Kate a sense of what life in the royal family was like.

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"I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much," William said.

Middleton acknowledged that being in the royal family was "a daunting prospect."

The interview reminded many of a similar TV appearance by Charles and Diana shortly after they became engaged. At that time, Diana seemed frightened of the limelight and withdrawn; by contrast, Middleton seemed at ease in front of the cameras. She said she wished she had met Diana.

"I would love to have met her. She's an inspirational woman," Middleton said as William looked on.

The future of the royal family depends to no small degree on the success of their union.

The royal wedding represents a chance for the Windsors to start anew. Middleton brings youth and glamour to a monarchy tarnished by divorce and scandal. The marriage will link Middleton — a wealthy commoner whose parents, self-made millionaires, founded a successful mail-order party supply business after working in the airline industry — with William, scion of one of the richest families in the world.

A strong, stable marriage — one that lasts decades and produces heirs — could go a long way toward undoing the damage from the ugly squabbling and televised confessions of adultery that marred the final years of Charles and Diana's tortured marriage.

"This is their chance to rejuvenate the dynasty," said Patrick Jephson, former private secretary to Diana. "This is an opportunity for a welcome national celebration."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: A royal couple's long courtship

loading photos...
  1. William and Kate

    On April 29, 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married, eight years after they first met at university. The prince popped the question five months earlier to his longtime girlfriend during a vacation to Kenya. Take a look at their top moments.

    Official wedding photo The online version of the royal wedding's official program includes a never-before-seen portrait of the couple, shot by Mario Testino. Testino also shot their official engagement pics. (Mario Testino / Art Partner) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A pre-wedding outing

    Kate Middleton, or the Duchess of Cambridge as she is known after the wedding, waves as she walks with Prince William in Darwen, England, on April 11, less than three weeks until the royal wedding. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Royal couple mania!

    Excited fans line up to see Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in Darwen, England, on April 11. The prince was in the town to officially open the school. (Lindsey Parnaby / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Weather or not

    Heavy rain didn't prevent Kate Middleton and Prince William from thrilling the crowd that gathered to see them as they arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in northern England on April 11. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A perfect flip

    Prince William looks on as Kate Middleton tosses a pancake during a visit to City Hall on March 8, 2011, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Indigo / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wedding blooms

    Britain's Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, speak to wedding florist Rachel Gibson during a visit to the Greenmount Agriculture & Food College, in Antrim, Northern Ireland, on March 8, 2011. (Paul Faith / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Remembering Christchurch

    Prince William looks on as his fiancée Kate Middleton signs the book of condolence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch earthquake at the New Zealand High Commission in London. (David Parker / WPA Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Romantic homecoming

    Prince William and Kate Middleton returned to the university where they met and fell in love on Feb. 25 with an official visit to St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. (Danny Lawson / WPA Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pouring some bubbly

    Prince William and his blushing bride-to-be Kate Middleton performed a bit of royal duty, making a rare public appearance in Anglesey, Wales to christen Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station’s brand new lifeboat, the "Hereford Endeavour" on Feb. 24, 2011. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Official engagement portraits

    The couple pose in their official engagement portraits, taken by photographer Mario Testino in the Cornwall Room at St James's Palace in London on Nov. 25, 2010. (Mario Testino / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Engaged at last

    William and Kate pose for the media at St. James's Palace in London on Nov. 16, after they announced their engagement. The couple are to wed April 29, 2011. (Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Diana's ring

    This close-up shows that the engagement ring Prince William gave Kate Middleton was the one that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. The ring is an oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds. (Paul Hackett / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Royal couple

    Months of speculation about William and Kate's engagement grew more intense when the couple attended Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford's wedding at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul on Oct. 23, 2010, in Northleach near Cheltenham, England. (Indigo via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Chic chapeau

    In an eye-catching hat, Kate Middleton attends the wedding of Nicholas van Cutsem and Alice at The Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks on Aug. 14, 2009, in London. Middleton had been named to Vanity Fair's international best-dressed list in July 2008. (Indigo via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Wedding guests

    Prince William and Kate Middleton attend the wedding of friend Chiara Hunt in Salzburg, Austria, on Sept. 6, 2008. Two years and two months later, it was announced that the prince and his longtime girlfriend had finally become engaged. (Ikon Pictures via Rex USA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A jolly good time

    Prince Harry, Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall laugh together as they watch the Order of the Garter procession at Windsor Castle on June 16, 2008. (Tim Graham / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Together again

    Prince William and Kate Middleton at a Royal Air Force graduation ceremony held at RAF Cranwell, England on April 11, 2008. Middleton's accompanying the prince as he was awarded his RAF wings was a clear indication that the couple had reconciled after a widely reported split a year earlier. (Michael Dunlea / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A day at the races

    Kate Middleton attends a horse race at the Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, western England, in this March 16, 2007, photograph. (Eddie Keogh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. On the slopes

    Prince William and Kate Middleton were spotted skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, on March 19, 2008, one of a number of public appearances together that showed that they had reconciled after a reported April 2007 breakup. (Rex USA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. They're off!

    Prince William and Kate Middleton on the first day of the Cheltenham Race Festival in Gloucestershire, on March 13, 2007. One month later, the media reported that Middleton and the prince had broken up. (Stephen Lock / Rex USA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Separate seats

    Prince Harry (front left) and Prince William (on Harry's left) are clearly enjoying a performance at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in London on July 1, 2007. So is Kate Middleton (upper right corner). At the time, rumor had it that William and Kate had reconciled after their split in April 2007, but they sat separately, insisting that they were "just good friends." (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Sports fans

    Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a rugby match in London in this Feb. 10, 2007, photo. (Richard Heathcote / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Paparazzi prey

    Photographers snap pictures of Kate Middleton as she leaves her Chelsea home on Jan. 9, 2007, her 25th birthday. The growing media attention that she attracted at this time prompted warnings to the press from Prince Charles, Prince William and Middleton's lawyers. As a result, two newspaper groups decided to cease publishing paparazzi photos of Middleton. (Solo via ZUMA Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Lady in red

    Kate Middleton arrives at the Sovereign's Parade at The Royal Military Academy in Camberley, west of London, on Dec. 15, 2006. (Ben Gurr / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Guest of honor

    Kate Middleton is seen at the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles and Harry Lopes at St Cyriac's Church, Lacock on May 6, 2006, in Wiltshire, England. (Tim Graham / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Model behavior

    Kate Middleton models on the catwalk at a student fashion show attended by Prince William on March 26, 2002, in St. Andrews, Scotland. The prince reportedly paid 200 pounds to sit in the first row and watch Middleton model a sheer dress over a black bandeau and bikini bottoms. (M Neilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Heads on a platter

    In November 2006, British retailer Woolworths showed a china plate representing Prince William and Kate Middleton as a commemorative gift for their wedding. Four years later the prediction finally came true when the royal family announced that the couple were engaged. (Woolworths via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Mario Testino / Art Partner
    Above: Slideshow (27) A royal couple’s long courtship
  2. Image:
    Jayne Fincher/Getty; Davidson/O'Neill/Rex via InStyle.com
    Slideshow (13) Kate Middleton’s princess style
  3. Image: Storms And Strong Winds Batter UK Coastal Areas
    Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    Slideshow (51) The lives of princes

Timeline: A history of British royal weddings

Take a look back at the gorgeous and famous British royal weddings in the last 80 years.

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