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Abbey hopes not to blow fuse at royal wedding

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The Dean of Westminster Abbey John Hall is praying its third-time lucky for Prince William and Kate Middleton during their wedding after the power went down on two recent Fridays.
/ Source: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The Dean of Westminster Abbey John Hall is praying its third-time lucky for Prince William and Kate Middleton during their wedding after the power went down on two recent Fridays.

An estimated two billion people are set to tune into the royal wedding on Friday, April 29, potentially the largest television audience ever, with 2,000 attending the service.

Camera crews from around the world will be relaying images of William, the son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, marrying his long-term girlfriend.

But the dean revealed that the electricity supply had gone down twice at the abbey and surrounding area in the past month -- only for a short time, but both on a Friday.

"This is slightly alarming, if the electricity goes at some point on the morning of April 29th then we shall certainly be upset about that," he told Reuters.

"In fact, our clerk of works has been very closely in touch with our electricity suppliers and changed various fuses, so we hope all that is going to be fine."

The Gothic abbey, or to use its formal name the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, has a long connection with royals, dating back a 1,000 years.

It had been linked mainly with coronations and burials until the 20th century when a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Patricia, set the trend for marriages in 1919.

William's great grandparents, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and the future George VI, followed in her footsteps in 1923, as did his grandparents, the future Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece, in 1947.

The dean will welcome Kate and her father at the Great West Door on the morning of the wedding, and will begin the service and end it with a blessing.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican church, will marry the couple, while the Bishop of London Richard Chartres will give the address.

"I daresay we'll all feel slightly nervous, but very excited as well and delighted that it is happening here," Hall said.


The young couple have been to the abbey for rehearsals appearing relaxed, keen to get it right, and are expected to "quietly" attend again before the big day.

Their "genuine warmth" had "struck a chord" with people, and the event would have an "uplifting" effect, Hall said.

"It is lovely, it is wonderful, that there are people all around the world who are excited by this," he added.

"I would hate to think that it was just a sort of celebrity thing, and I think it is deeper than that really, perhaps partly related to the extraordinary faithful service the queen has given over such a long period, she must be the very best known person in the world, and so the people associated with her."

Details of the music is still under wraps, and there is likely to be "plenty there which is very familiar ... and some things which are new," Hall said. However, the couple had clear ideas about the hymns they wanted, he added.

Just like his grandparents and great grandparents, the wedding is taking place at a time of austerity.

Kate will travel to the service by car rather than an ornate coach and the royal family and the Middletons will jointly pay for the service, reception and honeymoon.


Also likely to be in the background will be memories of Diana's funeral at Westminster Abbey in 1997. "It is obviously something which is clearly in the mind, it would be absurd to suppose it couldn't, wouldn't be," Hall said.

But a family's relationship with their parish church covers all events and ceremonies including baptisms, weddings and funerals, he said.

"It is the church, as it were, reaching out at all the really important points in people's lives and enabling them to celebrate what is good and to come to terms with what is painful," he said.

He said what the couple would experience would be the same as any other getting married in a parish church.

"It is always a privilege marrying a couple," Hall said. "(This) is the same thing, but on a bigger scale."