Queen and Prince Charles promise to dig deep -- but wedding could cost £50m
The Queen and Prince Charles have both promised to contribute to the cost of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding, which some believe could exceed £50m (€58.7m).
Prince Charles's wedding to Diana in 1981 cost an estimated £30m (€35.2m), with thousands of police and armed forces personnel lining the streets to maintain order as 600,000 people gathered in London.
Even without some of the more lavish touches of 30 years ago -- such as 10,000 pearls hand-sewn into Diana's gown, and 27 wedding cakes -- the bill for next year's event could easily eclipse the cost of the prince's parents' wedding.
Observers have suggested the total will run into tens of millions of pounds, with one estimate putting the figure at £80m (€94m) for security alone.
It also emerged yesterday that a spring date is favoured for the wedding. And the secret role played by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also came to light in bringing the couple back together.
Camilla and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were instrumental in Prince William's strategy for giving Ms Middleton time to "back out" of marrying him.
The prince and Ms Middleton started discussing the possibility of an engagement when they got back together after a brief split in 2007, but the prince decided he wanted to give his girlfriend plenty of time to get used to the realities of joining the royal family.
Sources close to Prince William said that while he had regular discussions with his father, Prince Charles, about the timing of a marriage proposal, he was also keen to hear the views of his stepmother and his grandfather.
"The duchess has been an important figure in the planning of the engagement," said one well-placed source.
"She was an outsider, just like Kate, before she married the Prince of Wales, so she was able to give a unique take on what Kate would go through once she became Prince William's fiancee.
"She gave the prince a lot of encouragement, and gave him the benefit of her experience when he asked for it."
Prince William is also known to be extremely close to Prince Philip, and is understood to have asked for his opinions on how to avoid a repetition of the loneliness and isolation felt by his mother, Princess Diana, after her marriage in 1981. During a television interview to mark the engagement, Prince William tackled head-on the problems his mother had experienced after marrying into the royal family, and said he would "learn lessons" from her experience and make sure history was not repeated with Ms Middleton.
He said he had delayed proposing to his girlfriend of seven years because "I just wanted to give her the chance to settle in and see what happens on the other side".
He added: "I wanted to give her a chance to back out before it all got too much."
A royal source said: "Prince William gets on very well with the Duchess of Cornwall and she is always keen to offer advice and support to both the princes if they ask for it.
Among the topics the prince is understood to have discussed with Prince Philip is the choice of venue.
Prince Philip is said to favour Westminster Abbey, where he married the Queen, because it would mark a return to tradition after Prince Charles chose St Paul's Cathedral for his own ill-fated first marriage.
Despite the discussions Prince William has had with his family over the past three years, he did not tell any of them of his plan to propose to Ms Middleton during a holiday in Kenya last month.
He even kept the engagement secret from the Queen until three hours before it was announced officially.
Only Ms Middleton's father, Michael, knew in advance of the announcement after the prince contacted him and asked for his daughter's hand in marriage. (© Daily Telegraph, London)