William and Kate hold final rehearsals

A royal coach travels on the mall during a military dress rehearsal for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Last minute rehearsals for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton got under way before dawn in central London yesterday with the royal couple expected to put the final touches to their preparations.

Roads around Buckingham Palace and along the route the couple will take from Westminster Abbey after tomorrow’s service were closed as about 1,000 members of the armed forces took part in a full-scale practice for the couple’s big day.

Carriages that will carry members of the wedding party also took part alongside mounted cavalry, with a full dress-rehearsal involving the clergy and broadcasters scheduled for today.

The abbey itself has already been closed off to the public, and William and Middleton will be there for some final rehearsals yesterday, although royal officials declined to give details.

“As with anybody’s wedding, you can imagine rehearsals happening up until the eve of the wedding,” a spokesman for William said.

Diana’s presence will be felt at Westminster Abbey

Elton John was last at Westminster Abbey 14 years ago when he sang the haunting “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral of his friend Princess Diana.

Tomorrow, the British singer will be back as a guest at the wedding of her elder son Prince William, a happier occasion at which his mother’s absence will nonetheless be keenly felt.

More than 1 million people lined the route of Diana’s cortege in 1997 to pay their respects to a woman who was a royal outcast by the time of her death, aged 36, in a Paris car crash.

For many, the abiding memory of William is still as a 15-year-old boy, head bowed, following his mother’s coffin.



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