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Video: Royal wedding down to final details

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    >>> al, thank you. now to our countdown to the royal wedding . just three more days to go. as you can imagine, the planning is down to the final details, but things are changing by the minute. "today" national correspondent natalie morales is at westminster abbey with the latest. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, meredith. they are putting up the finishing touches on the scaffolding where the media will camp out friday. there are decorations throughout london . the city is looking beautiful. as you mentioned the one thing that's changing is the forecast. there is a threat of rain for friday. so everyone here is talking about will the first glimpse of kate's wedding dress be covered by an umbrella. after days of sunny skies in london , the weather could soon take a turn for the worse. cloudy skies are in the forecast with showers predicted for the day of the royal wedding . after they are married william and kate are supposed to take an open carriage from westminster abbey to buckingham palace but there is a backup plan. if it rains they will take a glass coach.

    >> rides lady diana .

    >> reporter: the same one used by princess diana when she was married. all over london , security sweeps have begun. on the day of the wedding, 5,000 police officers will take to the streets on foot and on horseback. they will also patrol along the thames and watch from above in helicopters, with live pictures fed to central command .

    >> we'll make sure the security is in place, providinging basically for the reassurance of those in charge of the event on the ground.

    >> reporter: new details are emerging about the ceremony. we learned prince william and kate middleton will enjoy one private moment with their families during this very public event. after their vows the newlyweds will pass through the chapel behind the altar out of the public's view to sign to marriage register in complete privacy. billions are expected to watch the royal wedding on television. and the wedding is getting the x factor , the hip british tv show is lending a top stage manager to oversee the coverage. one fan couldn't wait for the big day . john loffery of south london is already camping out at westminster abbey .

    >> diana will be proud of her son, prince william , and catherine's marriage. prince harry as best man. she'll be with them in spirit in westminster abbey on their special day and always.

    >> reporter: there are now others joining as well, camping out here. we have a lady here who brought her sleeping bag , tent and everything. she's been knitting. she'll need that sweater. the conditions have changed dramatically. officials in london want all to feel they are wedding guests for the day on friday. they are encouraging everyone here to dress for the occasion, hats and all, meredith. i hope you have your hat picked out by now.

    >> i do. they are making it. that lady better knit fast. it's getting colder by the moment.

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 4/26/2011 8:04:50 AM ET 2011-04-26T12:04:50

It's set to be a wedding for the ages — the pomp and pageantry, the hundreds of thousands of well-wishers lining the route to Westminster Abbey to catch a glimpse of Britain's royal couple of the moment.

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But would-be terrorists, stalkers and troublemakers be warned: Armed, plainclothes and special tactical police units will be out in full force. And the military guards decked out in their ceremonial best won't be there just for show.

"The military are not entirely ceremonial — even the guards along the route have been known to pull people out of the crowd," said Professor Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank.

Special forces will be on standby, Clarke said. But on the front lines, even the most adorned royal guards will be told: "If there is any sense of threat, you deal with it."

Story: Security teams gear up for UK royal wedding

Military guards traditionally contribute to the festive atmosphere of public events — marching along parade routes, or sitting atop jet-black steeds in spotless uniforms and plumed helmets. But those tasked with securing the royal family also "train in close protection," Clarke said.

If there were a threat to the monarchy and they didn't act, "everyone would wonder what they were doing standing around in their bright red uniforms with their weapons on their shoulders," he said.

"They are certainly told that if you are to protect the monarchy, use your bayonet if you have to," Clarke said.

Video: Dog sniffs out trouble at the royal wedding

But protecting Queen Elizabeth II and her family is only part of the job. Security officials also have been choreographing the steps required to keep the peace amid a sea of spectators celebrating the union of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

"There is no one group that really causes me concern," said Commander Bob Broadhurst, of London's Metropolitan Police. "What causes the concern is this is going to be a global event. The cameras of the world are on it; that means publicity, and there are people out there who need the oxygen of publicity for their cause. They'll do their best to spoil the party if we let them."

PhotoBlog: Look through photos of the royal wedding

Top security threats
Police and security sources have identified several key threats they'll potentially face as hundreds of millions of people watch Friday's events unfold on TV.

• Terrorism: "No one would rule out the possibility there could be a terrorist attack because there are a lot of people in a crowded place and that would be attractive to a terrorist who wants … mass casualty," said NBC News security analyst Andy Hayman, who as an assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police was the highest-ranking counterterrorism police officer in the U.K. The presence of celebrities, sports stars and foreign dignitaries will increase the appeal for terrorist groups. Broadhurst said that a terrorist attack is "highly unlikely," but acknowledged that square one for planning event security is terrorism prevention — and that the huge presence of security personnel should help deter plots.

Video: Threat is 'highly unlikely' at royal wedding

• Protests: Broadhurst pointed to recent demonstrations against austerity measures that turned violent and resulted in injuries and property damage. "There are some angry people, some annoyed people," he said. "They may just see a pageant like this with all the trappings of luxury and richness [and] they may just want to come out and make a statement, so I have to look at public disorder." Police are holding discussions with two groups that have applied to stage protests in London on Friday.

Story: UK police reject Islamist protest at royal wedding

• Anarchists and anti-royalists: "The last thing you would want is someone that is not supportive of the royal family and wants to embarrass everyone," Hayman said. To achieve that, instigators could "throw a bag of flour or a pot of paint at the precession." The unpredictability of those individuals "will pose a headache" for police, Hayman noted.

• Obsessed fans: "There are, unfortunately, people who have fixations on the royal family in particular. Some people think they should be married to the prince; they can cause us problems," Broadhurst said. Police officers working the crowd usually carry photos of the known obsessives and "most of them just need a nice gentle chat" to remind them of the police presence, he said.

Balancing security, celebration
Hayman said that security officials will be spending this week grappling with striking the right balance. "On the one hand, they want to create a safe and secure area. But on the other, not so safe and secure that the visibility of police starts to dampen the day of celebrations and the joyous behavior."

London's police force is also counting on help from the public.

"We'll have about 5,000 police officers deployed on the day so we are really asking the public to be our eyes and ears," said Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens. "If they see anything in the crowd that raises their suspicion about any sort of criminal activity, we would ask that they would highlight that immediately to a police officer. Please don't be afraid to deal with it, and that then gives us opportunity to act quickly and decisively."

Video: Inside London’s Kensington Palace

There also will be plenty of unseen security. Scotland Yard has emphasized a robust security policy, including plans to dispatch personnel to spot troublemakers before they have a chance to act — using tactics commonly used to root out the infamous hooligans at soccer games.

"For every smiling British 'bobby' walking along chatting to the crowd, there will be two or three if not more plainclothed people moving through the crowd, and they won't have any hesitance in just removing somebody in who they think is behaving strangely," Clarke said.

"They are on alert, and remember that London is a city that has more surveillance cameras than any other city in the world, so everything will be turned on; everything will be being monitored at the time," he added.

Video: Kate’s hometown prepares for royal wedding

There's also the issue of getting people around a city that regularly faces gridlock at the best of times.

"When we put in a whole lot of closures to make sure the event can take place, my responsibility is to keep London moving in a sense," said Chief Inspector Duncan Morley of the Metropolitan Police's traffic operational command unit. "It's a very time-critical event. It's fashionable for the bride to be late — but not in this occasion."

© 2013 msnbc.com  Reprints

Photos: Guest list

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  1. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip

    Following the royal wedding ceremony, Queen Elizabeth II – married to Prince Phillip – will host a reception for the couple at Buckingham Palace, with guests drawn from the wedding congregation. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

    Prince Charles – married to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – will host a dinner and dancing for Prince William and Kate Middleton and their close friends in the evening, royal officials confirmed. He will be expected to provide the food and the wine and to make a heartfelt toast.
    Of the bride, Camilla said, “Kate’s a lovely girl … We’re very lucky. I’m very much looking forward to the wedding.” (Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Princess Anne

    Princess Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip and is the only member of the British royal family to have competed in the Olympics, in equestrian events. Her daughter, Zara Phillips, will wed this summer. (Julian Herbert / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Prince Andrew, Duke of York

    Prince Andrew is the third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and the former husband of Sarah Ferguson, who was not invited to the royal wedding. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex

    Prince Edward is the fourth child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and is married to Sophie Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex, a former public relations manager. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Lady Louise Windsor

    Princess Louise of Wessex, commonly known as Lady Louise Windsor, 7, is the elder child of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

    Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne and her first husband, Mark Phillips, will wed the captain of England's rugby team, Mike Tindall, on July 30 in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Phillips was considered the rebel of the royal family as a teenager before following in her mother's footsteps to enjoy a successful horse riding career. (Carl De Souza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie

    Princess Beatrice and her sister Princess Eugenie are the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, the Duke and Duchess of York. (Shaun Curry / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy

    Prince Harry has conducted an on-again, off-again relationship with law student Chelsy Yvonne Davy since 2004. Davy made headlines in 2009 when it was reported that she announced a split with Prince Harry on Facebook. (Ben Stansall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Tom Parker Bowles

    Tom Parker Bowles is the son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and a well-known food writer and cookbook author. In 2005, he married Sara Buys, a fashion features editor, and their wedding was attended by Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Prince William. (Ian Gavan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Charles, Earl Spencer

    Charles Spencer, the ninth Earl Spencer, is the late Princess Diana's brother and an author and journalist. According to the U.K.’s Mirror, Prince William’s uncle will reportedly offer a royal wedding travel package for tourists at his Althorp estate, where Princess Diana is buried.
    In February, Charles announced his engagement to a Canadian charity worker. The wedding, Spencer's third marriage, will take place just a few weeks after the royal wedding. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Princess Diana's sister

    Lady Sarah McCorquodale is an older sister of the late Princess Diana and was her unofficial lady-in-waiting. According to the London Evening Standard, Sarah will attend Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding wearing the diamond earrings that were the "something borrowed" worn by Diana at her wedding nearly 30 years ago. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Lady Jane Fellows, Princess Diana's sister

    Lady Jane Fellows is an older sister of the late Princess Diana and is known as the quieter and more reserved member of her family. (Lewis Whyld / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Michael and Carole Middleton

    Michael and Carole Middleton are the parents of Prince William's fiancee, Kate. The Middletons live in the village of Bucklebury in Berkshire, England, and run a successful mail order business. (Stefan Rousseau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Pippa Middleton and James Middleton

    Philippa Charlotte “Pippa” Middleton and James Middleton are Kate’s younger siblings. (Danny Martindale / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Jecca Craig

    Jecca Craig is a close friend of Prince William’s. The two were rumored to have dated during William’s 2000-2001 gap year. (Indigo / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Syrian Ambassador Sami Khiyami

    Syrian Ambassador Sami Khiyami, seen here with Queen Elizabeth in 2005, was originally invited to the royal wedding, but one day before the nuptials the UK Foreign Office withdrew the invite. Human rights groups had criticized the invitation following violent attacks on protesters by Syrian security forces. (Afp / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Bogoda Seelawimala

    The Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala is head priest at London's Buddhist Vihara temple. Seelawimala has never met Prince William or Kate Middleton, and has been invited primarily to show the royal family and the British government's respect for Buddhist tradition. (Sang Tan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako

    Crown Prince Naruhito is the first son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. Princess Masako is his wife. (Toru Yamanaka / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Emirati Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan

    Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. (Marwan Naamani / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Laura Lopes, Duchess of Cornwall's daughter

    Laura Lopes is the daughter of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and manager of a London art gallery. In 2006, she married accountant Harry Marcus George Lopes and their wedding was attended by Kate Middleton. (Stuart Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Queen Sonja and King Harald V

    Queen Sonja and King Harald V of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg are the queen and king of Norway. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Prince Daniel and Crown Princess Victoria

    Prince Daniel is the Duke of Västergötland is married to Crown Princess Victoria, the heiress-apparent to the Swedish throne. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. King Abdullah II

    Abdullah II bin al-Hussein is the reigning King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

    Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is the King of Bahrain. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

    Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is the King of Saudi Arabia. (Hassan Ammar / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Bandar Seri Begawan

    Bandar Seri Begawan is the Sultan of Brunei. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Sultan Qaboos bin Said

    Sultan Qaboos bin Said is the Sultan of Oman. (Mohammed Mahjoub / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Jonathan Sacks

    Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. (David Levenson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Prime Minister David Cameron

    David Cameron is the current prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron assumed the office in 2010. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. David Beckham and Victoria Beckham

    Professional soccer player David Beckham and wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, became friends with Prince William and Kate Middleton in the wake of Prince William’s unsuccessful campaign to hold the 2018 World Cup in England. David Beckham was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying of the impending nuptials, “A royal wedding will be fantastic for the whole country.” (Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Sam Branson and Holly Branson

    The children of Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson, Sam and Holly Branson are longtime friends of Princes William and Harry. The Bransons’ private island, Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, is rumored to be a possible honeymoon destination for the royal newlyweds-to-be. (Ian Gavan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Claire Jones

    Claire Jones is the official harpist to the Prince of Wales. (Dominic Lipinski / Abaca) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Sir Elton John

    The beloved singer-songwriter and international pop star was a close friend of the late Princess Diana. Until recently, John was very coy about whether he was planning on attending the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Queen Elizabeth II Visits Canada - Day 3
    Chris Jackson / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (34) Who’s invited to the royal wedding? - Guest list
  2. Mario Testino / Art Partner
    Slideshow (27) Who’s invited to the royal wedding? - Royal courtship
  3. Image: The Dean of Westminster Abbey, John Hall, walks through Westminster Abbey, in central
    Toby Melville / Reuters
    Slideshow (15) Who’s invited to the royal wedding? - Westminster Abbey
  4. Image: Kate Middleton
    Joel Ryan / AP
    Slideshow (44) Who’s invited to the royal wedding? - Preparations


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