LONDON (Reuters) - Here are some facts about London’s Westminster Abbey where the marriage ceremony of Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton will take place on April 29, 2011.
— The Abbey became a popular venue for royal weddings when Princess Patricia of Connaught chose it for her marriage to the Honorable Alexander Ramsay in 1919.
— It was the first time for 650 years that the Abbey had been used for a royal wedding.
— Westminster Abbey was chosen for the marriage of King George V’s daughter (Mary, Princess Royal) to Viscount Lascelles (later Earl of Harewood) in February 1922.
— Two of George V’s sons married at the Abbey - Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) in April 1923 and Prince George, Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece there in November 1934. In April 2002, the Queen Mother’s funeral service took place at Westminster Abbey. She died on March 30 at the age of 101.
— After World War Two, Westminster Abbey was the scene of the marriage of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip on November 20, 1947.
— Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon) were married there in May 1960. Three years later Princess Alexandra married Angus Ogilvy in April 1963.
— Princess Anne (now The Princess Royal) and Captain Mark Phillips were married there in November 1973. Prince Andrew (now The Duke of York) and Miss Sarah Ferguson were married there in July 1986.
— Although St. Paul’s Cathedral was the venue for the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, Westminster Abbey was the venue for the funeral service of Diana in September 1997 just days after she was killed in a car crash in Paris.
— Around 960 A.D Dunstan, Bishop of London, established a group of Benedictine monks on “Thorney Island,” an isolated marshy area of land on the banks of the River Thames.
— Edward the Confessor built a new church on the site, which was consecrated in 1065. Edward died a few days after the consecration, was buried in the Abbey and later made a saint.
— Henry III pulled down the whole church in 1245 (except the nave) and replaced it with the present Abbey in the pointed Gothic style of the period.
— Since William the Conquerer every English sovereign has been crowned in the Abbey with the exception of Edward V and every British sovereign since the union of the English and Scottish Crowns in 1603, with the exception of Edward VIII.
— Edward V was deposed and probably murdered by his uncle Richard III. Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Many kings and queens are buried near the shrine of Edward the Confessor or in Henry VII’s chapel. From
— The last sovereign to be buried in the Abbey was George II (died 1760); since then they have been buried at Windsor Castle.
— The Abbey is crowded with the tombs and memorials of famous British subjects, including Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, and Ernest Rutherford.
— Part of the south transept is known as Poets’ Corner and includes the tombs of Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson (who was buried upright), John Dryden, Robert Browning, and many others.
— The north transept has memorials to British statesmen. The grave of the “Unknown Warrior,” whose remains were brought from Flanders, Belgium in 1920, is in the center of the nave near the west door.
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit:)
Editing by Paul Casciato