Registrar jittery over royal wedding

LONDON, MARCH 24. Clair Williams does not usually suffer from pre-nuptial nerves. As a Registrar, she has conducted about 1,000 weddings in her 10-year career. But as she smiled for the cameras yesterday, she conceded that a royal marriage was a bit different.

"I might be nervous on the day,'' said Ms. Williams, who faced the media after being announced as the person who will conduct the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles on April 8.

Ms. Williams, who is the Superintendent Registrar of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, said she had helped a few "celebrities" to tie the knot but would not divulge their names. She said that the royal wedding — a 20-minute civil service in the Ascot room at Windsor Guildhall, attended by most senior members of the royal family with the exception of the Queen and Prince Philip — would be "absolutely unique."

She said: "When I became Superintendent Registrar in the Borough just over a year ago, I had no way of knowing I'd be involved in such a historic occasion. It came as something of a shock to me and my team, but thankfully a very pleasant, nice one. All weddings are special for the couple concerned, but this one's particularly important."

But this royal wedding will be considerably more low-key than the Prince's marriage to Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Then more than 600,000 people lined London's streets for the ceremony, officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and watched by an invited congregation of 3,500. The global television audience was estimated at 750 million. Only about 30 invited guests will witness the April 8 service at the Ascot room, a modest chamber on the first-floor of the Guildhall, which has stained-glass windows, an unsmiling portrait of Queen Victoria and a wooden desk in front of which Charles and Camilla will make their vows.

The media will not be permitted to cover the service, although the plans are for television coverage of the subsequent service of dedication at Windsor Castle. Prince Charles's London home, Clarence House, announced yesterday that Prince William and Ms Parker Bowles' son, Tom, will be witnesses to the marriage.

Camilla's father, Major Bruce Shand, and her daughter, Laura Parker Bowles, will also be present, as will the Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne's husband, Rear Admiral Tim Laurence.

The Prince of Wales and Ms. Parker Bowles will drive from Windsor Castle to the 17th century Guildhall in a 1962 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, a car previously used by the Queen Mother.

Ms. Williams said that she had met Ms. Parker Bowles, but said that it was up to the couple to decide if they wanted to meet her and discuss the ceremony. Asked if she had picked her own outfit for the big day, she laughed and said: "I'm going shopping on Saturday. It will probably be expensive."

She said she had encountered all sorts of glitches in her career, including the late arrival of the groom, bride and photographer. She expects a smooth operation on April 8. "I can't see us holding up this one if the photographer is late."

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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