Couple attend final rehearsal ceremony

BRITAIN’S Prince William and Kate Middleton made a rare pre-wedding appearance last night as they attended a rehearsal for their nuptials at Westminster Abbey.

Excitement around the wedding has grown over the last 24 hours, with hundreds of tourists flocking to the abbey where die-hard royalists have pitched about 30 tents in a bid to claim the best spot on the big day.

Miss Middleton’s parents, Michael and Carole, took part in the rehearsal after leaving their Berkshire property earlier in the day and driving to London to stay at the exclusive Goring hotel in Belgravia — their home for the next three nights.

They were joined by their daughter Pippa, who is Kate’s maid of honour, and son James.

Prince Harry, William’s best man, was also present, along with all the senior churchmen involved in the ceremony.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is marrying the couple, the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, who will give the address, and the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, who is conducting the service, were all part of the rehearsal.

The couple saw some of the abbey’s floral decorations in place, including the eight English field maples and two hornbeams designed to form an avenue of trees along the nave.

They have held rehearsals before but not inside the abbey and last night practised everything to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly despite possible nerves on the day.

Miss Middleton, 29, walked up the nave arm-in-arm with her father and gone through her vows with her 28-year-old fiance.

Mr Middleton and his daughter are unlikely to have rehearsed their walk along the whole length of the abbey before — with the trip down the aisle estimated to take around three and a half minutes.

Prince William was due to spend the evening having a private dinner with his family, St James’s Palace said.

The second-in-line to the British throne was to enjoy his last night as a free man in the company of his father, Charles, the Prince of Wales; Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; and best man Prince Harry.

The event is likely to be a quiet affair while less than a minute’s drive away Kate Middleton will be with her family at the exclusive Goring hotel in Belgravia.

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