April 04, 2011 12:00 PM

Every aspiring princess deserves her fairy-tale ending and, departing Westminster Abbey as a newly-minted royal Apr. 29, Kate Middleton will get hers: riding with Prince William to Buckingham Palace in the gilded, open-topped carriage that carried Diana and Charles on their 1981 wedding day.

The 109-year-old State Landau coach will be drawn by four Windsor Grey horses, Palace coachmen told reporters at the March 21 unveiling. It will lead a procession of five carriages that will carry the wedding party, including Prince Harry, Charles and Camilla, Kate’s family and, of course, the Queen.

And if it rains? There’s always plan B: the enclosed Glass Coach Diana rode to the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Kate will arrive by car-in the same Rolls-Royce attacked by protesters, with Charles and Camilla inside, in December.

At the Royal Mews, which houses the horses and carriages, the excitement is building. “It’s been a lot of preparation,” says Martin Oates, senior carriage restorer. “It’s just nice to be part of the big day.”

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