LONDON (Reuters) - Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton said they were deeply touched by the outpouring of affection sparked by their wedding which will take place on Friday amid pomp and pageantry in Westminster Abbey.
Their message of thanks to well-wishers worldwide came as details were released on Thursday of the wedding service that will combine the ancient traditions of the monarchy with a sense of modernity to reflect the times.
In the service, Middleton will not promise to “obey” William as part of her wedding vows in front of a congregation gathering royals, politicians, celebrities and friends at which his mother the late Princess Diana will be conspicuous by her absence.
“We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives,” William, the second in line to the throne, and Kate wrote in a statement printed in an official souvenir program.
“The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone most sincerely for their kindness,” they said in the program released on Thursday.
The music for the service reflects much of the couple’s planning for the event which will include Welsh hymns illustrating their connection to Wales. William’s father Prince Charles, the future king, is the Prince of Wales.
“The music has a largely British theme. The Couple have put considerable thought into selecting the music, and their choices blend traditional music with some newly commissioned pieces,” William’s office said in a statement.
On Thursday morning, Middleton, 29, along with William’s younger brother and best man Prince Harry but not her future husband had a final wedding rehearsal at the abbey, accompanied by some of her family, bridesmaids and page boys.
William, now 28, was 15 when Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in Paris at the end of August 1997. William and his brother Prince Harry walked behind their mother’s cortege at her funeral.
The funeral service for Diana, where Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind,” took place in the abbey which has been the coronation church since William the Conqueror was crowned there in 1066 and is the final resting place for 17 monarchs.
“AMERICA REALLY EXCITED”
Across central London, preparations are well under way with flags and bunting in the red, white and blue of Britain’s “Union Jack” flag fluttering across buildings and shops. Similar scenes are being echoed across cities, towns and villages across the country where about 5,500 street parties will be held.
There has been huge global media interest, particularly in the United States, with a mass of cameras and journalists joining royal fans outside the abbey and Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace residence in central London.
The British government has said the royal wedding could attract a global TV audience of some two billion people.
“America and the world is really excited about a piece of great news,” said Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of U.S. entertainment news program Entertainment Tonight, who is heading up a team of 70 staff for the wedding.
VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, is predicting an extra 600,000 tourists in the capital on the day, meaning there would be a total of some 1.1 million visitors with 40 percent of those coming from abroad.
Those invited to the wedding also include colleagues as well as foreign dignitaries. The decision to invite Syria’s ambassador has led to some criticism in the media given the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in his country.
Britain has said it would work with other countries to push for sanctions against Syria’s leadership if it continued to use violence to quell protests.
“Those countries with which we have normal diplomatic relations and ambassadors in London are invited to the wedding, and while we have strong disagreements with many of them this remains the case,” a Foreign Office source said.
Additional reporting by Avril Ormsby, editing by Peter Millership