29 things you didn't know about the royal wedding
With a global TV audience of up to a billion predicted, 8,000 journalists on hand to capture it all and free smart phone apps to guide you through it, the April 29 wedding of Prince William and his bride to be Kate Middleton will also draw a huge Irish audience. Here's the ultimate guide to the big day at Westminster Abbey
1William and Kate are already related -- they are 15th cousins, both descended from Sir Thomas Fairfax in the 16th Century
2Thanks to a Leinster win at the weekend, Ireland's own power couple Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman almost certainly won't be taking up their invite to the nuptials of the year. With BOD's team lined up for a semi-final on April 30, Amy's more likely to find herself wrapped up warm in the stands of the Aviva Stadium than decked out in her finest in the Abbey.
3But there'll be plenty of well-known faces. The 1,900 guests include Victoria and David Beckham, rugby coach Clive Woodward, comedian Rowan Atkinson and director Guy Ritchie as well as some surprises -- two of Kate's exes, four of William's and Kate's wayward uncle all made the cut.
4Senior royals and dignitaries will be shuttled between Buckingham Palace and Westminister Abbey in budget friendly minibuses. But despite the recession, Prince Charles said he "wasn't prepared" to arrive at his son's wedding in a bus and will travel in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce.
5At 29, Kate Middleton will be the oldest royal bride but once she says 'I do' it's the end of 'Kate'. She wants to be known as Catherine -- which means if she goes the distance she'll be the sixth Queen Catherine of England.
6The Goring Hotel in Belgravia, where Kate will spend her last night as a single woman, has long-standing Royal connections -- the Queen Mother called it her favourite hotel (and loved the Eggs Drumbiko) and in 1952 most royal guests for the queen's coronation opted to stay there over Buckingham Palace because the Goring had en suites.
7It's the royal wedding of media firsts -- first to be announced on Twitter, have a soundtrack released online within hours of the service and the first royal wedding to have its own flood of smartphone apps. But no 3D . . . this time. Clarence House implied it's something they might consider in the future so watch out Harry. And guests have been warned to stay clear of social media during the day. All 1,900 have been warned to switch off mobiles during the service and NOT to update Twitter.
880,000 commoners will flock to London to cheer on the happy couple while up to a billion are expected to tune in at home. But the real hordes will be the media -- some 8,000 TV and radio journalists will descend on London to cover the event. CNN are drafting in an extra 50 US staffers to add to its London desk of 75, the BBC has plumped for a whopping 850 staff while Sky and ITV have 460 between them.
9Kate might get called a tart as a special wedding present. It's a tradition for royal brides to get a pudding named after them -- in 1947 we had the Bombe Glace Princess Elizabeth and 1923 Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth. Slice of Chocolate Kate anyone?
10St Andrew's University, where the pair met, sends plenty of graduates away with a future spouse as well as a degree -- one-in-10 students marries a fellow alumnus.
11To the dismay of photographers Kate has shunned riding to the Abbey in the glass carriage used by Princess Diana on her wedding in favour of taking a 'humble' car -- either a 1950s classic used by the queen or the Phantom IV used by Charles and Camilla during the infamous stick-poking incident at the student fees protests last year. But the newlyweds will take Charles and Di's carriage on the ride to Buckingham Palace -- despite Kate's allergy to horses.
12Gamblers can take a punt on all things royal wedding -- topping the polls at the moment are bets on whether Harry will lose the rings (38/1) or end up drunk (33/1), and what colour of hat will be worn by Her Majesty.
13When he becomes king, William, at 6ft 3ins, will be the tallest monarch ever.
14Forget the tea-towel and mugs, this is the royal wedding of truly memorable memorabilia. Fridges embossed with a giant photo of the royal couple, a Kate and Wills meat pie and a limited edition Princess Catherine engagement doll, with her own Facebook page, sold at Hamleys toy store, are just some of the options.
Japanese toy line Sylvanian Families has even designed rabbit replicas of the royal couple, to go on sale in the UK around the time of the wedding. The company has named the tiny felt rabbits William and Catherine Balmoral, while the Archbishop of Canterbury is to be represented as a beaver named Kelvin.
15Elton John (above) will be in the congregation, NOT at the piano during the service. The royal couple have opted for wedding music that includes Westminster Abbey Choir, Chapel Royal Choir and the London Chamber Orchestra over celebrity performers.
16The wedding flowers will be white gardenias, lily of the valley, delphinium and roses -- all grown in Britain -- and will stay in Westminster in the week after the service to be seen by the public. Kate's bouquet will include a sprig of myrtle, known as 'the herb of love', in keeping with a tradition started by Queen Victoria in 1840. But don't expect her to throw it over her shoulder -- the wedding bouquet will go on the tomb of unknown soldier, a tradition started in 1923 by the queen mother on her wedding day.
17Michelle Mone from Ultimo wanted to design the wedding day lingerie and even sent designs to Kate but the regal bride is more likely to be supported in undergarments by Rigby and Peller, the queen's corsetières best known for Bridget Jones' big pants.
18One of Ireland's own pop stars will feature on the DVD of the Royal Wedding. Carol Anthony (the Cork pop princess was nominated for a Meteor Award back in 2005) has recorded a duet of 'True' with Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley for the recording.
19William's no-bake chocolate crunch cake, a childhood favourite of the prince, will contain 1,700 McVitie's biscuits and more than 18kg of dark chocolate.
21The couple WILL re-enact a kissing photo-op on Buckingham Palace balcony. But could it be the kiss of death? Charles and Di and Fergie and Prince Andrew both kissed for the crowds and divorced -- the queen and Prince Philip, who didn't, are still together.
22Despite not making it on to the guest list, rapper Snoop Dogg, sent William a unique wedding gift in the form of a raunchy, sex-filled song called 'Wet', which he composed especially for the Prince's stag do.
23Four stylists -- James Pryce, Richard Ward and their two assistants -- have been drafted in to monitor Kate's hair throughout the day which will be sculpted into an elegant up-do.
24Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who will marry the couple, is hard of hearing in one ear, unable to drive and at school had a note permanently excusing him from PE.
25The bride has commissioned four pairs of shoes for the day with varying heel sizes but will walk down the aisle in a pair of silk slipper flats to minimise any danger of taking a tumble.
26Despite being a closely guarded secret, Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, is the name emerging from royal quarters as the designer of Kate's dress.
The bride-to-be was impressed with Burton's work after seeing the off-the-shoulder dress she created for Sara Buys' marriage to Camilla's son Tom Parker Bowles.
27Cake-maker Fiona Cairns, behind the multi-tiered wedding cake iced in 16 different blooms, first met Prince Charles 10 years ago at a Fortnum & Masons event in London when his opening chit-chat was "Do you do wedding cakes?"
28Senior officials from the Irish Guards (who have William as their new regimental colonel) have been hand-picked to form a guard of honour when the newlyweds leave Westminster Abbey.
29The reception won't be as lavish as you might expect. A recession-conscious queen has opted for 'two bite' buffet canapés for her 600 guests at Buckingham Palace rather than a sit-down meal. The lucky 300 guests invited to the less economically conscious Prince Charles do later in the day will experience the real opulence thanks to an organic three-course meal served up by award-winning Swiss chef Anton Mosimann.