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LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth has given her formal consent to the marriage of grandson Prince William and Kate Middleton in the form of a historic hand written legal document made of vellum and elaborately illuminated.
Under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, the British monarch must formally approve the marriage of her children and of most direct descendants of King George II, who reigned in the 18th century, before their wedding.
The Instrument of Consent, images of which were made available by William's office on Thursday, bears the queen's signature "Elizabeth R" and is sealed with the Great Seal of the Realm.
It reads: "NOW KNOW YE that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G., and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton."
The Instrument of Consent is one of a very few instruments that pass under the Great Seal which bear the monarch's signature. It will be given to William and Middleton after their wedding on April 29.
The document was illuminated by one of a panel of scrivener/artists retained by the Crown Office.
According to William's office, vellum is used only for the most important state documents.
The queen turned 85 on Thursday and attended the traditional Maundy Service at Westminster Abbey in London, also the venue for the royal wedding.
During the service, which dates back to the Middle Ages, she handed out Maundy money to people in recognition of services to the church and community.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato