Charles, Camilla Ready to Say 'I Do'
After 30 years and several last-minute changes, the couple will wed in a civil ceremony Saturday
After waiting more than 30 years, nothing – not losing their first choice of venue, Windsor Castle; nor the Queen announcing she’ll miss the civil ceremony; not even a change of date because of the Pope’s funeral Friday – is going to stand in the way of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’s marrying on Saturday … which just happens to be the third anniversary of the Queen Mother’s funeral.
So while the Royal Mint scrambled to redate its commemorative medals, Charles and Camilla prepared to say “I do.” So did Grace Beesley, 33, a marketing manager whose prescheduled wedding at the same hall on Saturday will go ahead an hour and a half after the royal vows. As Beesley tells PEOPLE: “I’m going to have to practice my royal wave.”
As for the site of the civil ceremony, Windsor’s 17th-century Guildhall isn’t your average town hall. It boasts stained glass windows and historic portraits; still, seating just 30, it’s hardly St. Paul’s Cathedral.
A blessing will follow at the more lavish St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle (which was not licensed for the civil ceremony because that would have opened it up to other couples) before 750 guests, who will then adjourn to the grand State Apartments for the reception.
That part of the celebration will attract royalty, past and present – including Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Dutch Prince Constantijn and his wife, Princess Laurentien, and the former king of Greece, Constantine, and his wife Anne-Marie.
Prime Minister Tony Blair heads the list of politicians, while from the entertainment world will be red-carpet maven Joan Rivers, said to be a friend of the wedding couple’s; Ab Fab costar Joanna Lumley; and actors Kenneth Branagh and Richard E. Grant. Former Squeeze musician Jools Holland is an invitee, as are Sting and wife Trudie Styler, though only she will attend (he reportedly is on tour).
After the gathering, the prince and newly titled Duchess of Cornwall plan to depart at 6 p.m. They’ll honeymoon at Birkhall in Scotland.