Under the circumstances, decidedly less pomp

Wedding: Timing, dress code a distinct departure from tradition.

June 15, 1999|By Janet Stobart | Janet Stobart,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LONDON -- It may be the wedding of the decade, but the forthcoming nuptials between Prince Edward, the queen's youngest son, and Sophie Rhys-Jones, his career-woman fiance, will be decidedly more modest and modern than those of his brothers.

In the 1980s, amid much pomp and splendor, Prince Charles and Diana Spencer were wed in London, in lofty St. Paul's Cathedral, and Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah Ferguson, now divorced, married in the traditional royal house of prayer, Westminster Abbey.

The timing and dress code for Saturday's wedding are a distinct departure from English tradition toward the new territory of continental European custom. While his bride's dress is a tightly held secret, Edward will wear the English morning dress of the traditional English bridegroom.

The official number of invited wedding guests is 600 for the 3: 30 p.m. wedding at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, the out-of-town royal residence a few miles west of London. About 8,000 members of the public will be allowed into the castle.

The men are invited to wear morning dress-tail coat, striped or gray trousers, white or pale shirts and usually a gray tie. Evening dress for the women means no hats and the invitation suggests three-quarter-length or long dresses but no ball gowns (a polite way of saying no bare shoulders).

In another departure from royal custom, the celebrant of the marriage service will not be the traditional figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury but the Right Rev. Peter Nott, Bishop of Norwich, a personal friend of Edward.

The form of the ceremony, however, will be the traditional one taken from the Anglican Church's Book of Common Prayer, its origins go back to the 1662 Anglican Prayer Book, and there will be traditional hymns and anthems.

The royal couple also are reverting to tradition in that Sophie will promise to "love, honor and obey" her husband prince. He, in turn, will promise to "worship" her. Most modern wedding vows have eliminated the word "obey." Of the bride's decision to "obey," the bishop is reported in the press as saying, "It's no big deal. It is a mistaken assumption that it means she is going to be subservient. Leadership in a good marriage always shifts."

The bride and groom will be driven around the town of Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage after the wedding before returning for the reception. There will be a buffet dinner and dancing in the apartments of the castle afterward.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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